Scott faces a ferocious battle in defending her appointed OS City Council seat, with four challengers (Doering, Schroll, Hardin, Dougherty) lined up for the Position 5 primary; the top two vote winners of the five move on to the general election. In February, Scott was selected from a field of nine candidates and appointed to the position vacated by Steve Ensley. Scott’s answers to NBN questions in bold:
What, if any, do you assess to be major areas of concern in OS — and what if any are your plans to fix them?
Public Safety is a major concern for our city. We have a south end fire station that is not manned. This increases the fire rates for those citizens living in the south end. This is not acceptable; we need to protect our citizens equally.
Having a manned station will also provide extra staffing so that we can ensure that tragic events, that happened recently do not happen again.
Our Police Department desperately needs a new headquarters building. The current one they are in is falling apart. It was built with residential specs and not commercial.
We have roadways that need to be maintain, we need sidewalks, crosswalks, and more bike paths.
Our Freshwater ways need to be maintained our golf course needs maintenance.
Code Enforcement needs help to keep up with all the development.
The city has a long list of items that need to be addressed. It is going to take all of us to make this happen. Setting priorities and budgeting responsibly as a Council is imperative. We need to be able to work together as a team to accomplish this.
We are not going to be able to do everything at once. Having our citizens participate in setting the priorities is paramount.
-OS looks to be on pace for record revenues — what should the money be spent on?
As I mentioned above, the city has a long list of items that need to be done.
We need to work with our citizens to set the priorities and budget accordingly. One project at a time. The added development revenue will help make this possible.
The city survey shows that public safety is the number one priority of our residences. This tells me this is where we should start.
-What are your thoughts on the firing and subsequent lawsuit of former OS Fire Chief David Bathke?
I came onto City Council after this has already gone to trial, so I am not as familiar with the case as others.
Cities deal with employment lawsuits frequently. I am not saying this happened in this case, but when employees are fired, a city can spend more time and money defending a case in court than to settle. It is frustrating.
At this point all we can do is move on and learn from this case. Yes, it is costly, but we will survive.
-What “fresh” ideas do you have to tackle the weed/algae problem on the city’s fresh water system?
In Ocean Shores we have 23 miles of fresh waterways. These are a city asset that need to be maintained. We are slowly losing our depth in these waterways due to sediment and non-native species that are invading our shorelines.
The city needs to form a tighter partnership with the Fresh Waterway Committee and come up with solutions that work and that can be maintained.
There are several folks that are working on solutions to this very complex and challenging topic. This is one area I support very much, but have little knowledge in. This is where working as a team becomes very important. I rely on our Fresh Waterway Committee, our citizens, staff, and my council colleagues who have more knowledge in this subject who can help guide me to make a more informed decision.
-What is your track record as far as listening to and responding to complaints from citizens (and/or customers)?
My background is in municipal government. Everyday my day is spent listening to and responding to concerns from citizens.
City Council is no different, it is our job. Sometimes it may mean only listening to someone who is looking to vent, other times it is an emergent need, but whatever the case may be, it is our job to listen and to provide feedback.
My goal is to provide feedback within 24 hours after receiving a request. Since I do work during the day, it is not always easy for me to respond right away, but I will respond, it may not be until the evening, but I will return the email/phone call, etc.
-What are your thoughts on the golf course?
The golf course is a city asset and one that needs to be maintained. It provides recreational space for our residents and our visitors and green space for our local wildlife. It is one of our largest green spaces and we, the city, have an obligation to maintain our asset.
I see the save the golf course signs and to me this means protect our asset.
In down times, the first thing cities do is cut the maintenance budgets. This is normally the easiest thing to cut, not the smartest, but the easiest. Cities do not want to lay-off employees, it is one of the hardest things to do. But when maintenance gets cut things start falling apart. The golf course is no exception.
Buildings need to be repaired or replaced; golf paths need to be maintained. These duties fall to the city since it is our asset.
I would like to see the city find ways to invest in the golf course so that we can continue to provide an awesome recreational activity. The gold course brings visitors into the community who spend money, which in turn helps to providing funding for other municipal needs.
-With a strong field of candidates — why should someone vote for you?
I would like to think that I bring a different dynamic than the other candidates. I have been in public service for almost 30 years; 21 of them in municipal government where I still work today.
My background is in building, planning, code compliance and property maintenance. I have a good depth of knowledge about maneuvering through permits and working with State and Federal agencies. I can hit the ground running without having to spend a great deal of time learning about the intricacies of municipal government, which will and does have a learning curve to it.
I am a doer. If I did not feel that I could get things done and continue to move this City forward, then I would not be running.
My job is listening to the community and bringing forward their concerns in a manageable way so that we can implement them. I know how to work with others to accomplish goals and objectives, which I have been doing since I was appointed to Council approximately 5 months ago. As a team we have been able to review and recommend 4 chapters of the Comprehensive Plan for approval. By working as a team, we were able to get a stagnate plan forward. The Planning Commission worked hard to get this plan drafted and the Council has a responsibility to review the work. Now that we are almost done, its time to move on to the next set of goals. Working together we can accomplish anything.
I am a big fan of town hall meetings where citizens can come and get the latest news and have their questions answered. This not only helps the citizens feel like they are being heard, but it also helps staff to know what some of the issues are. This is an area that I have experience in and would like to see the city do quarterly town hall meetings.
-How would you communicate with residents especially in times of crisis like the pandemic?
I would like to see the city implement a phone tree in times of emergency. This would allow everyone to receive a call and see how they are, what they need, etc. This will help us make informed decisions.
Everyone receives their information differently. Not everyone reads the paper, not everyone is on social media, not everyone has email, not everyone listens to the radio, so what is the best communication tool? Maybe a quick survey to find out what are some of the best communication tools are will also help guide the city on the best method of communication.
Individuals also need to take responsibility for how they receive information as well.
-What is your vision for the town? Another Seabrook? Add marina like Westport? What do you picture the future to be?
I see Ocean Shores continue to be both a Tourist and Residential town. We have a lot of retired individuals that chose Ocean Shores for many reasons. We get a lot of tourists because it is an affordable beach escape. Covid has also changed the dynamic again. We are now seeing families moving into the area. This is amazing to see. Ocean Shores is a wonderful community, and I am happy to see the diversity grow within our boundaries.
We all need to work together because we all need each other. We need the dollars that the visitors bring into the community so that we can provide essential services to our permanent residences. We need to provide amenities and things for our visiting guests to do, so that they continue to come back to Ocean Shores and spend their hard-earned dollars as well.
We need our local residences to support our businesses, because without local support we will not have year-round business, only seasonal. Small businesses are the backbone to our survival.
In terms of vision that is something that should be set as a community; However, I do not think we need to be a Seabrook. Oyhut has done an amazing job creating that type of development within the gates of Ocean Shores and we need to support that, but throughout the city, no.
I would like to see the Marina come back in some capacity. Not necessarily like Westport, but something that would fit with our community. We need some place for citizens (and visitors) to launch their boats and moor their boats. I would support bringing back the ferry. It should be an area that we explore. It will take a lot of work and funding to make it usable again.
-How do you feel about dumpsters on the beach and affordable housing?
Before I made a commitment about the dumpsters, I would want to see a bit more information on the problems. I would support dumpsters at the more popular beach entrances. I believe this would encourage visitor’s and residences to use them after exiting from our beaches.
Affordable Housing is a very complex issue. Never in my lifetime of growing up on the Harbor did I ever see this one coming. There seemed to always have been an availability of housing for everyone. Times have changed.
Government’s role in housing is very tricky. We are not an entitled City and have to compete for Community Development Block Grant funds (which can support low-income housing), while entitled cities do not. Are there things the city could do to encourage private investment? Maybe a reduction in fees? The city could look at requiring any new commercial development coming in to have staff accommodations built into the development. Other areas have done this. I am not sure what the answer is, but I think it is one the city should look at and find out what can be done.
What do you think about more crosswalks in the business area?
There seems to be some controversy over the crosswalk debate. There is much more to crosswalks than paint. Research needs to be completed looking at the safety aspects as well. Where are pedestrians entering the crosswalk from and where are they exiting at? These are just some of the considerations the city must look at or run the risk of lawsuits from accidents with cars vs. pedestrians.
I support crosswalks in our business areas.
-How do you feel about off-leash dog parks?
I think the city should have an off-leash dog park. We will be at just over 7,000 residences in town, and it is a good time to have an off-leash dog park. The beach already has an off-leash area for dogs; but it is not always easy for people to access, and they do not always feel comfortable letting their dogs run in the sand. Broken shells, dead birds, etc. can cause harm to pets.
The Parks Board is vetting this very issue and I look forward to hearing back from them once their report is complete.