ATLANTIC BEACH — Lenearl Evans and Kenneth McLaurin say they hope to win seats on the Atlantic Beach town council to bring stability to the town’s government in hopes it could lead to development.
The two are among the candidates seeking the expiring seats currently held by Carolyn Cole and Windy Price. Evans, McLaurin and former Mayor Retha Pierce will be on the ballot Tuesday. Cole and Price have declared their intent to run as write in candidates. Neither Cole, Price nor Pierce could not be reached for comments about their bids for office.
Evans said there’s “too much noise” in Atlantic Beach that’s keeping the town from operating.
He said he is running because he doesn’t want to see Cole or Price on council again.
“We want these people gone,” he said. “I can bring a lot of stability. That’s all the town needs.”
Evans, a retired mechanical engineer, did not elaborate on how he could make the town more stable.
McLaurin, who is retired, said his experience as a school principal, which included 30 years in North Carolina and 16 in Horry County, would help bring order to the town’s government.
“The first thing I would try to do is help bring stability to the council and try to bring some harmony between and among the members of council,” he said. “I certainly hope that my experience in administration will help me to forge that.”
McLaurin said putting aside personal interests is the first step the council needs to take.
Turning turmoil into success is possible for Atlantic Beach, according to Evans – a lifelong resident of the town.
“We’ve got strangers running things like Bikefest,” he said. “They need to leave this town so we can govern our own town.”
McLaurin has been living in Atlantic Beach for three years, but said he’s not new to the town.
“I grew up in Wilmington,” he said. “My family would vacation and come to Atlantic Beach. So, only three years as a resident, but many years as a vacationer.”
He said tackling the town’s debt, which is reportedly between $700,000 and $800,000 according to town officials, is a top priority.
“All towns or municipalities have debt,” McLaurin said. “Debt isn’t unusual or unique to Atlantic Beach, but our challenge will be to look at the finances and set a process. First you have to know what you have to pay then we’ll set a process to eradicate that debt. It’s going to take some years, but we must have a plan to address the debt.”
McLaurin also hopes that if the fighting among councilmember’s ends, outside entities will begin to respect the town.
“I understand that distrust,” he said. “That’s why one of the first things that we will have to do as a council is to create stability among us so that outside entities can see us as a viable municipality that they can come to and invest money in.”
McLaurin said the investment could lead to development along the oceanfront to include small hotels, condos or residential buildings.
“I think the people want that development,” he said. “They’re not interested in 15, 16, 20 stories, but certainly there is an interest in developing the waterfront. It’s not just about business, but maybe bath facilities for the residents who use the beaches.”
Polls bill be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Atlantic Beach Community Center at 1010 32nd Avenue South. Voters need a photo ID. For complete rules regarding photo ID, visit scvotes.org.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.