Debate The 2013 Emerald Isle NC Mayor Candidates

Debate The 2013 Emerald Isle NC Mayor CandidatesThe 2013 Emerald Isle, NC municipal elections for town Mayor are underway and the official candidates are Donald Wells, Brandon Staton, Ryan Ayre, and Wilson Eddie Barber. All four candidates in the next few months will be asking voters to vote for them after incumbent Mayor Art Schools decided not to seek re-election. The purpose of this article is to provide a platform for Emerald Isle NC voters to debate which candidate they feel will best be able to lead the town of Emerald Isle NC in the future. The municipal election for Emerald Isle Mayor is Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

2013 candidates are Donald Wells, Brandon Staton, Ryan Ayre, and Wilson Eddie Barber


Meet The 2013 Emerald Isle NC Mayor Candidates

  • Brandon Staton – Mr. Staton is the marketing and communications manager for Transportation Impact, LLC, a parcel spend management firm headquartered in Emerald Isle.
  • Ryan Ayre – Mr. Ayre is the owner of Portofino Restaurant in Emerald Isle NC.
  • Don Wells – Mr. Wells has 20 years experience in planning, building and sustaining cities while working with both US and foreign services, government and Non-Government Organizations (NGO).
  • Wilson Eddie Barber – Mr. Barber is a ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church, and the owner of Ben and Jerry’s in Emerald Isle.

What Emerald Isle NC Issues Do You Want The 2013 Mayoral Candidates To Most Focus On?

In the comment section below, readers of this article are encouraged to give their insights on the issues that they feel are most important for the 2013 Emerald Isle NC Mayoral candidates to know. All comments are moderated and we will not allow any insights that contain negative comments about any of the candidates. Our goal here is to hear from the candidates and their supporters on why they think their choice is the best and to hear about what issues are the most important ones for Emerald Isle residents and the town going forward.

NC Insights encourages Wilson Eddie Barber, Don Wells, Ryan Ayre, and Brandon Staton to provide statements on their candidacy, as well as any other information as it relates to governing the town of Emerald Isle NC

As a voter in Emerald Isle NC, what are your most important issues as it relates to government in your community? What do you think needs to be done to increase tourism in the area, to protect the valuable coastline, to provide for jobs and other economic advancements, or to build and sustain town resources?

One issue that most certainly at the forefront of voters in Emerald Isle NC, and one the future Mayor of Emerald Isle will face is the current debate on whether coastal regions in NC should be designated as critical habitats by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department. What do you want the 2013 Mayor Candidates to know about this issue?

What do you want the candidates to know about tourism in Emerald Isle and what the town can do to increase (or decrease) efforts to draw in more events and other activities in the town?

Other than the critical habitat issue, are there any other emerging issues that residents and voters of Emerald Isle NC will face in the near future that the new Mayor will have to deal with?

In 2013, candidate for Mayor Don Wells of Emerald Isle NC sent us the information below. Candidate Brandon Staton’s information information is below.

Date and place of birth:
December 10, 1967
Albany, NY

Spouse:, Fine Art Oil Portrait Artist

1984 – Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America
1986 – Salutatorian and National Honor Society, Greenville High School, Greenville NY
1990 – B.S. Interdisciplinary Science with Geology Minor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
1990 – Fire Fighting Essentials, State of New York
1998/9 – Economics and accounting concentration, Campbell University, Buies Creek, NC; 4.0 GPA
2002 – Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps
2003 – Command and Staff College, U.S. Marine Corps
2007 – Marine Corps Logistics Education Program, Penn State University, State College, PA
2008 – Logistics for the 21st Century, Institute for Defense and Business, UNC Chapel Hill, NC
2012 – Leadership Carteret, Carteret County Chamber of Commerce
2012 – Business concentration, Carteret Community College (4.0 GPA)

Occupation: Retired, US Marine Corps supply officer and logistics planner

Political Experience: 2012-present Emerald Isle Board of Adjustments

Civic activities:
Attended 2 years of Emerald Isle Board of Commissioner Meetings
Board of Directors, Seaside Arts Council
National Eagle Scout Association
Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Protection Program
NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
American Red Cross Volunteer
Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Volunteer
Emerald Isle St Patrick’s Day Festival Volunteer
Emerald Isle Business Association
Carteret County Chamber of Commerce
North Carolina Coastal Federation
Carteret County Communities in Schools 2012 fundraiser “Dancing with Our Stars”
Surfrider Foundation, Bogue Banks Chapter
Greenville Volunteer Fire Department, Greenville, NY (Served 5 active years)
Marine Corps League (Eagle Scout Coordinator)
American Legion
Veterans of Foreign Wars

Why are you the best candidate?
Leadership, experience, availability: Retired military officer with 20 years logistics experience in planning, building, and sustaining communities worldwide while working with US and foreign services, governments, and humanitarian organizations (such as the Red Cross.)

Civic interest: Because I want to be your full time mayor and am interested in everyone’s thoughts and opinions, I am walking and bicycling door to door to offer each and every Emerald Isle resident the opportunity to meet me personally and offer their input in my platform development. The majority of residents, second homeowners, tourists, and businesses interviewed wish to maintain the small town family beach atmosphere. This is in line with Emerald Isle’s approved vision as written in the 2004 Coastal Area Management Agency’s Land Use Plan and the current Carteret County Economic Development Council’s Municipality Initiative Project, which is still in progress.

Balance: I bring a balanced approach to decision making understanding that I will represent all parties with an interest in Emerald Isle which are broken down roughly as follows:
1/3 permanent residents
1/3 second home owners
1/3 vacation rentals

Top priority, if elected: Provide a safe and secure environment allowing all individuals the opportunity to pursue their interests and enjoy our pristine Crystal Coast.

Candidate Brandon Staton:

Address: 137 Doe Drive, Emerald Isle, NC 28594

Date of birth: December 28, 1983

City of birth: Portsmouth, Va.

County of birth: Portsmouth

How voters can contact you: | 919.619.3397 | |

Occupation: Marketing and Communications Manager at Transportation Impact and First Flight Solutions

Education: Associate in General Studies (cum laude) from Louisburg College; B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Leadership experience: Leadership Carteret c/o 2013; Louisburg College Ambassador; Sports Editor of The Daily Tar Heel, ranked No. 1 collegiate daily in the United States by the Princeton Review; Oversee marketing and communications efforts for Transportation Impact and First Flight Solutions, two of the fastest growing private companies in the United States and 17th/13th fastest growing private companies in North Carolina, respectively; Lead volunteer at 2013 Emerald Isle Day4Kids; planned and developed inaugural Transportation Impact Small Business Forum in May 2012 in conjunction with Small Business Week in Carteret County; stakeholder in Economic Development Committee’s Municipal Initiative

Why are you running for office?

I want to be Emerald Isle’s next mayor to continue my mission of enhancing the lives of those in and around Emerald Isle. During the past three years I have developed a reputation for strong public service and availability to the community. As such, I am acutely aware of the current issues as well as viable solutions that can exist between Emerald Isle residents and the local, state and federal governments. Since returning to the area after college, I have worked hard to set a positive example and to uphold the town’s reputation through community involvement and public service. I want to be the mayor of Emerald Isle to continue serving the community in the same manner that I have for years. I did not choose to get involved when I decided to run for mayor. I decided to run for mayor because I have long since made the choice to get involved.

What makes you a good candidate for the position?

I am the best candidate for the position because I made public service my priority long before Art Schools announced that he would not seek a subsequent term in the upcoming election. Those in and around my community know me as a person who is always available to lend a helping hand, and that my decision to do so is based solely on making our community a better place; not as a result of furthering my own personal or political agenda. I have worked hard to develop a reputation founded on dependability, availability and hard work. I believe that Emerald Isle is model community that other towns and municipalities in our state aspire to. My predecessors have worked hard to develop that reputation over the years and I am the candidate who has demonstrated his willingness to uphold it.

An important and challenging issue that Emerald Isle’s next mayor will need to address will be maintaining the town’s vehement opposition against the “critical habitat” distinction imposed by NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. As the only candidate to attend either of the public hearings on the subject, I can attest first-hand to overwhelming opposition from local and statewide leaders with regard to this burdening regulation and the irreparable damage it has inflicted on other coastal communities in our state. It has become apparent in recent months that this measure poses a tremendous economic threat to coastal communities along Bogue Banks, especially Emerald Isle, and throughout the state. The relative density of loggerhead sea turtle nests along our beaches, combined with the exhaustive measures the town and its residents already have in place to protect the species, make this distinction unreasonable and unacceptable for Emerald Isle. Any time you are dealing with federal government restrictions, it can be reasonably assumed that a difficult fight to overturn them lies ahead. But, with a coalition of like-minded citizens and the help of our state representatives, we owe it to ourselves, and to our neighbors, to work as hard as possible to ensure that our voices are heard and our rights are protected.

How would you define the role of mayor?

The mayor of Emerald Isle is a position founded on strong reputation and dedicated public service. Those who have held the position in the past have been well-known for shining a positive light on our community through their presence at local events and devotion to civic duty. I think most residents of Emerald Isle understand and appreciate the roles that previous mayors have played in living up to these qualifications and thus demand the same of a non-incumbent. Serving as mayor requires a unique personality and selflessness that many claim to have, but that few truly possess. Therefore the decision of whom to elect for the upcoming term is important to the well-being of both the town’s sterling reputation and its citizens’ quality of life.

As a new mayor, what new initiatives would you propose for the town?

As a new mayor, I would propose expansion of off-season events designed to help local businesses sustain the challenging times that occur during the fall and winter months. I believe that a unique balance exists in this regard, offering town residents and visitors alike the opportunity to benefit from what our great small businesses (the lifeblood of our local economy) have to offer, yet may have trouble providing during slower business periods.

I believe that business initiatives are important to maintaining quality of life in our community and that focus must be placed on obtaining additional revenue at every opportunity to help the town maintain achieve its initiatives at the lowest possible costs to its residents.
Therefore, I also intend to propose changes to our beach parking regulations that would allow town and county residents to park at reduced or no cost, provided they register for a permit. Additional considerations to my proposal will include the provision of a receipt from participating town businesses that offers reduced cost, or waiver of cost, in exchange for a minimum purchase at those locations.

Other initiatives include continuing to determine whether a dog park is feasible near Emerald Woods or at another location, whether affordable aesthetic renovations can be accomplished where they are needed and what, if any, solutions exist to aid the increasing deer and feral cat populations.

What do you see as the town’s biggest budget challenge?

Emerald Isle’s biggest budget challenge going forward will be the preservation of the second-lowest tax rate among North Carolina beach municipalities. The recent passing of the one cent tax increase, from $0.115 to $0.125, equates to a hike of 8.7 percent. While that increase will help the town fund its Community Enhancement Project, that increase could affect residents for up to a decade. During that period of time, it can certainly be surmised that other needs will arise which will also require funding. The town’s biggest budget challenge going forward will therefore be obtaining sufficient funding for those needs by methods alternative to passing the cost on to town residents and tax payers via similar increases, if possible. In order to achieve the goal of keeping tax rates as low as possible, it will be necessary for the mayor to work with local, state and federal government officials to determine whether grants exist for relative projects and whether implementing new, revenue-generating initiatives would provide sufficient funding without sacrificing quality of life for town residents.

What type of growth and development is best suited for Emerald Isle?

Growth is can be a tricky word in our community. The growth and development that are best suited for Emerald Isle involve ensuring that our resources are at capacity relative to the functions in which they serve. That is, the objective of the mayor should be to work with the state tourism authorities, Economic Development Committee, surrounding local government entities and others to ensure, not necessarily that our infrastructure is adjusted to handle increased tourism, commerce, etc., but primarily to ensure that our current infrastructure (rental properties, hotels, small businesses, parks, etc.) are at capacity in terms of usage. Each year, the town’s goal should be to ensure that its lodging is full, its restaurants and other businesses are thriving and that its parks and recreation resources are available to adequately provide for as many people, both residents and visitors, as its current infrastructure is designed to hold. Success in doing so will allow maximum revenue generation and thus minimize the town’s dependency on tax increases to fund future projects and initiatives.

What “quality of life” projects would you suggest for the town?

As mayor, I would suggest “quality of life” projects such as expansion of the town’s boating access (some of which is already underway), alternative parking options for town and area residents, the provision of a dog park (if plausible) in Emerald Isle, incentives for residents who frequent local businesses, and I would keep an eye on the town’s long term goal of building a new fishing pier.

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