Saturday, October 15, 2011

Port City candidates quizzed at NAACP, Black Caucus forum. Saffo, Sparks, are no shows.

Wilmington mayoral candidate Justin LaNasa speaks during the candidate forum for the Wilmington City Council and the Wilmington mayoral race at St. Phillip AME Church in Wilmington Friday, October 14, 2011. The New Hanover County NAACP and the New Hanover County Black Caucus sponsored the forum.
Photo By Matt Born
Modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.
Six of the 11 candidates in the running for the Wilmington City Council and mayoral elections showed up Friday night to field questions from the NAACP and New Hanover County Black Caucus.

Dozens of people filled long tables in the St. Phillip AME Church on Eighth Street. President of the Black Caucus, Helen Worthy, said she heard from city council candidate Ricky Meeks, who couldn't make it, and incumbent Ron Sparks and Neil Anderson sent proxies to speak for them. Council candidate Josh Fulton also did not attend.

The first half hour was reserved for mayoral candidate questions, and candidate Justin LaNasa fielded them alone. Mayor Bill Saffo did not attend.

"I feel that the majority of our citizens are going unheard," LaNasa said. 

This was the third annual candidate forum for the New Hanover County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the New Hanover County Black Caucus. Candidates fielded questions from a panel of members of the Alpha Psi Omega Chapter of AKA Sorority Inc. The subjects ranged from violent crime to city services and regulations. 

Brenda Fong, treasurer of the local NAACP group and downtown resident, said her biggest concerns were traffic in the Wilmington area and better explanations of the bus routes. Once again, candidates debated the prevalence of crime, but Fong thought transportation should be a more pressing issue for elected officials. 

City regulations have also taken center stage in the race for the Wilmington City Council, and Friday's forum was no exception. The panel asked candidates if they thought a proposed expansion of the city's rules aimed at preserving historic buildings was too invasive.