Duck Council candidates on the issues: Part I

By on October 20, 2019

Council hopefuls answered audience questions at an Oct. 1 candidate forum. (CriShaun Eugene Hardy)

The five council incumbents seeking re-election are Don Kingston, Monica Thibodeau, Jon Britt, Chuck Burdick and Nancy Caviness.

The four candidates not currently on the council are Rob Mooney, Marc Murray, Ben Vorndran and Sandy Whitman.

The same questions were emailed to all of the candidates by the Voice and were based on audience questions from the Oct. 1 Town of Duck Candidates’ Forum. Because the candidate field is so large, we are dividing the answers into two articles.

This story contains the responses from the four challengers. The answers have been edited for length. The next story will contain the responses of the five incumbents.


Candidate Rob Mooney

If elected or reelected what will be your top three priorities?

My first priority would be keeping the interests of resident/non-business owners at the forefront of decisions made by the council. Second would be a further investigation aimed to resolve the traffic flow problems during the summer months. Third would be the protection of the beach and sound from the encroachment of rising water levels.

Public access to the Town of Duck’s beaches has become a controversial issue. What is your position on the issue?

Regarding beach access, of course I am willing to work with interested parties to resolve this issue. I think that any resolution to this issue may be a costly one for the town. In addition, it is my position that there are more important issues that affect a greater number of residents.

Beach nourishment requires periodic re-nourishment and ongoing funding. Will you commit to insuring funding for re-nourishment is available? Do you feel the current MSD (Municipal Service District) plan is fair? Are there improvements you feel could be made to the funding plan?

It is my opinion that it is a subject that requires regular monitoring and [I] would be committed to future funding. Regarding the determination of the MSD’s A&B, I’m not familiar with all of the criteria used by the council to determine these definitions. My position would be that the tax burden imposed by the requirements should be shared across the board [as] these projects touch every property in town.

Public sentiment seems to favor the bike and multi-use trails Duck has created. Do you feel additional improvements in the system can be made over what is currently planned?

I think that there may be some improvements to these existing entities that can be made. They may be directly related to the investigation into the effects of the traffic situation during the summer season. Things like determining feasible traffic control, both vehicular as well as pedestrian, should be examined. 

Although the state seems closer than ever to moving the Mid Currituck Bridge forward, completion of the bridge is at least four years in the future. In the meantime, are there steps Duck can take to alleviate peak season traffic on weekends?

I think that alleviating the traffic issues in the interim are connected to other issues that exist. Therefore, further investigation is needed.

Sea level rise affects the soundside as much as the beach. What proactive steps do you favor to protect property and businesses? What level of funding do you see the town taking in this process?

Rising sea levels are a real issue that cannot be ignored. Beach re-nourishment on the ocean side seems to be the best answer. To combat this problem on the sound side, I would favor a living shoreline approach as it seems to be the most cost effective while helping to maintain the natural beauty.

Sea level rise also has a very real potential to threaten wastewater treatment, especially in areas that rely on septic systems. How do you see the town responding to this issue that has the potential for significant impacts on water quality?

The solutions to encroaching sea levels will hopefully be effective in protecting the septic systems that exist throughout the town.


Candidate Marc Murray

If elected, what will be your top three priorities.

Growth and redevelopment in the town is inevitable.  I’d like to help focus and facilitate that growth so that residential and commercial stakeholders benefit.  I hope to continue working to make the town more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.  I’d like to work to create a consistent, broad approach to soundside habitat restoration and water quality.  

Public access to the Town of Duck’s beaches has become a controversial issue. What is your position on the issue?

I would be willing to work with stakeholders for greater public beach access in Duck

Beach nourishment requires periodic re-nourishment and ongoing funding. Will you commit to insuring funding for re-nourishment is available? Do you feel the current MSD (Municipal Service District) plan is fair? Are there improvements you feel could be made to the funding plan?

I believe we are invested in beach nourishment, and I’d not like to see any new leadership squander that investment in the near term.  However, I believe nourishment is a short-term fix, and I’d like to see the town develop a comprehensive plan to deal with sea level rise in a holistic manner.  The sound and ocean sides need to be considered as well as wetland restoration and improvements to water quality in general.

Public sentiment seems to favor the bike and multi-use trails Duck has created. Do you feel additional improvements in the system can be made over what is currently planned?

Continuing to work to make Duck a pedestrian first community is critical to our success.  Our scale, and we aren’t getting any bigger, lends itself to pedestrian access. we need to continue these developments and work to maintain the facilities that have been installed.  We also need to continue to develop our public awareness campaign to make sure our guests and residence know how to use these amenities courteously and safely.  

Although the state seems closer than ever to moving the Mid Currituck Bridge forward, completion of the bridge is at least four years in the future. In the meantime, are there steps Duck can take to alleviate peak season traffic on weekends?

I support staggered check-in days. As the rental industry continues to evolve, that will help to alleviate some of the issues.  In the end though, I do feel that the mid-Currituck Bridge is the only long-term solution to the weekend traffic.  

Sea level rise affects the soundside as much as the beach. What proactive steps do you favor to protect property and businesses? What level of funding do you see the town taking in this process?

I see wetland rebuilding and water quality initiatives as critical in preparation for sea level rise. I think the town should take every opportunity we can afford to deal with this issue head on.  I also would like to see a trust fund set aside now. I would like to see Duck lead the way in long- term planning and preparation.   

Sea level rise also has a very real potential to threaten wastewater treatment, especially in areas that rely on septic systems. How do you see the town responding to this issue that has the potential for significant impacts on water quality?

In many ways, septic systems will be the canary in the coal mine of sea level rise on the Outer Banks. As I said above, we need to develop a comprehensive long-term approach to dealing with this.  Innovative wastewater treatment will probably be a part of this moving forward. We are dependent completely on being a place that people want to visit, because of our natural environment. Preventative maintenance is always less expensive than rebuilding after a disaster.   


Candidate Ben Vorndran

If elected or reelected what will be your top three priorities.

Pedestrian plan and vehicle flow. Proper use of Special Village code. Beach nourishment

Public access to the Town of Duck’s beaches has become a controversial issue. What is your position on the issue?

I’m against general public beach access. It has been over 50 years of realtors selling the concept of “private” beach access, less crowded beaches, family friendly. I would talk and listen with non-deeded Duck residential property owners toward possible solutions. One example is they could possibly join HOAs that have deeded beach access. I believe there are better ways to use our towns funds.

Beach nourishment requires periodic re-nourishment and ongoing funding. Will you commit to insuring funding for re-nourishment is available? Do you feel the current MSD (Municipal Service District) plan is fair? Are there improvements you feel could be made to the funding plan?

I would support beach nourishment. The current MSD model appears to be working, yet suggestions or solutions are always welcome.

Public sentiment seems to favor the bike and multi-use trails Duck has created. Do you feel additional improvements in the system can be made over what is currently planned?

Our bike and multi-use trails need improvement. We need improvements outside the current pedestrian plan. Why only improve flow for approximately three-quarters of a mile when larger populations are outside “downtown Duck.”  This town is about 5 miles long.  We can do better making it safer and easier for residents and visitors to get around.

Although the state seems closer than ever to moving the Mid Currituck Bridge forward, completion of the bridge is at least four years in the future. In the meantime, are there steps Duck can take to alleviate peak season traffic on weekends?

I believe it’s going to take better understanding the predicament and patience on everyone’s part.  I do think there can be better ways to allow better flow into and through our town.  These steps…need more thought and studying before I would introduce them.  

Sea level rise affects the soundside as much as the beach. What proactive steps do you favor to protect property and businesses? What level of funding do you see the town taking in this process?

I don’t want to see this as a Town-involved project (other than the town parks and boardwalks). I would let the experts like the Army Corps of Engineers guide us and residents to help individuals protect their property. The town could get involved in funding studies and research to help educate everyone.

Sea level rise also has a very real potential to threaten wastewater treatment, especially in areas that rely on septic systems. How do you see the town responding to this issue that has the potential for significant impacts on water quality?

Septic systems and rising sea levels are a concern. The current town’s response has yet to be seen. It’s an issue that other beach towns are also going to address.  We could learn and help as a community with research studies and practice areas.  


Candidate Sandy Whitman

If elected, what will be your top three priorities.

Help the Town move forward in a positive direction to service residents and visitors alike. Strengthen the rules by which elected officials take part in local government and enforce standards in our community. Improve our Public Safety Division and see a new structure to house said division become a reality.

Public access to the Town of Duck’s beaches has become a controversial issue. What is your position on the issue?

I am not in favor of public access to our beaches. Based on what I have heard, the majority of residents of Duck are against it.

Beach nourishment requires periodic re-nourishment and ongoing funding. Have you or will you commit to insuring funding for re-nourishment is available? Do you feel the current MSD (Municipal Service District) plan is fair? Are there improvements you feel could be made to the funding plan?

 I think that there needs to be ongoing funding for re-nourishment. To what extent, I do not know at the present time

Public sentiment seems to favor the bike and multi-use trails Duck has created. Do you feel additional improvements in the system can be made over what is currently planned?

The multi-use paths are a real plus for our community.  Based on what is projected when all phases of the plan are completed, I don’t think any more improvements will be needed.

Although the state seems closer than ever to moving the Mid Currituck Bridge forward, completion of the bridge is at least four years in the future. In the meantime, are there steps Duck can take to alleviate peak season traffic on weekends?

I think one thing the rental companies can do is more staggering of check-ins…for our visitors. The northern beaches in Currituck should do the same. 

Sea level rise affects the soundside as much as the beach. What proactive steps do you favor to protect property and businesses? What level of funding do you see the town taking in this process?

I think one suggestion to help protect property and businesses along the sound is a living shoreline. This is has proven ecologically viable in other communities and I believe that it would work for Duck as well.

Sea level rise also has a very real potential to threaten wastewater treatment, especially in areas that rely on septic systems. How do you see the town responding to this issue that has the potential for significant impacts on water quality?

We are developing a CAMA Land Use Plan here in Duck. I would like to see what the options the Committee presents to address this issue.

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Comments

  • CCJJ

    Town run by and for the entitled.

    Tuesday, Oct 22 @ 7:08 am
  • Sand Flea

    Couldn’t agree more CCJJ.

    Thursday, Oct 24 @ 8:48 am
  • hightider

    The residents are entitled because they paid large amounts of money to live in privacy. There are plenty of public access beaches in Dare County for the rest.

    Saturday, Oct 26 @ 6:28 am