Incumbent Jim Stuart faces four other candidates in the race to fill two seats on the Havelock Board of Commissioners.
Stuart garnered the most votes of any commissioner candidate the last time he ran for the post in 2009. The other incumbent commissioner, Will Lewis, has filed to run for Havelock mayor.
Stuart is part of a mix of five candidates that includes George Corbin, Matthew “Sugar Bear” Jones, Peter Van Vliet and Brenda K. Wilson.
As the close of the filing period neared, Stuart said just two candidates had signed up for the two seats. He said he decided to enter the race to give residents more choices.
“I have no hard-fast personal agenda item that would prompt me to make demands for immediate change,” said Stuart, a retired Marine and former Cherry Point depot worker. “I do however have certain preconceived ideas how we can improve in some areas and will actively pursue those if elected.
“I feel Havelock now has spent enough on large capital items and following years need to be more conservative, focus on employee benefits, maintain status quo, fine-tune services for the citizens, and remain right size in respect to overextending ourselves with no foreseeable return. The voters are wiser than some give credit, and by and large will vote on candidate qualifications, past performance and gut instinct. I hope everyone exercises his or her right to vote regardless of the outcome.”
Corbin, who ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 2011, is a retired Marine and former Cherry Point civil service worker. He has been involved in city government for about 20 years, serving on the Board of Adjustment, stormwater committee, Brownfields committee and with the fire department.
“I believe that it’s time to step up and start helping make decisions,” he said. “I’ve got nothing against the other people who are running. There’s a good selection there, but just remember, I’m the pretty one,” he joked.
Jones has run unsuccessfully three times previously for commissioner and three times for mayor. Jones is a retired Marine who works at Fleet Readiness Center East.
“Just like before, the people are still incensed about how the city is being run, and we definitely need some new blood in there because it’s stagnating,” Jones said. “There’s no new things, no new ideas. People are not thinking outside of the box, and for a place to grow you need new ideas. We need to shake up the place and see what comes out.
“I think if you outlive your usefulness, you should come out and let somebody else try. I think eight years should be enough to get something accomplished. Unless you’ve got something in the works that needs your immediate attention and immediate support, you should come out after two terms.”
Van Vliet, a newcomer to city politics, is a former Marine who works at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point.
“I’ve ingrained myself in the community and I want to give back,” Van Vliet said. “I’ve been here since 2006. The more I give back now, the more my kids are going to benefit from that, the stronger Havelock becomes, the harder the choice is going to be for my kids to leave Havelock.
“I have four children. They are varying ages from 6 to 14. If they grow up in a strong community and they do decide to leave, they’ll go out and build a strong community just the same. So I want to make sure that I can afford not only for my children but all the children of Havelock, that they come from a strong community.”
Wilson, is another newcomer to politics, but is well known in the community as a real estate broker and volunteer, having served on the Havelock Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and currently with the Craven Community College Board of Trustees.
“I have been a resident of Havelock since 1978 and I just felt like it was the time in my life that I could give something to the community that is my home,” Wilson said. “I’ve had people say to me previously that I ought to run, that I ought to participate, and I just felt like this was the right time.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I had something to offer. I really do look forward to serving our community, its citizens and especially to assist in any way possible to maintain our base, because that, to me, should be the city’s biggest focus right now.”
The Havelock Chamber of Commerce and the Havelock News are teaming up to sponsor a candidates forum on Oct. 7 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center. It will feature the five commissioner candidates as well as the two candidates for mayor, Jimmy Sanders and Lewis.
The election is scheduled for Nov. 5. Voter registration closes on Oct. 11. Requests for absentee ballots must be made in writing and arrive at the Craven County Board of Elections Office by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29.
Early voting is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning on Oct. 17 and concludes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Board of Elections Office, located at the Craven County Administration Building, 406 Craven St., New Bern. Those not registered can register and vote on the same day during the early-voting period.
For more information on the election, call the Board of Elections at 636-6610 or go online to www.cravencounty.com/departments/elc.cfm.