Derek Bickel is one of six candidates running for three Wilmington City Council seats in the Nov. 5 elections. A Wilmington resident of nine years, the first-time candidate works as a director of operations at Infranet Technologies Group, Inc.
Why are you running for city council?
“It’s something that I’ve been passionate about for a long time. … I’d either come back from a [council] meeting or watch a meeting and my wife would be like, ‘Well, if you have so many questions about it, then why don’t you do something about it?’ So that’s essentially where I came to the conclusion that, ‘Hey you know what, it’s time to run.’ It’s time to do something.”
What are the biggest issues facing Wilmington?
“I think the biggest issue right now is crime. … We need to have some education programs for youth, especially at-risk youth and fund those more so than we’re doing now. … [The DREAMS program] is a great program, and I think that we need to do more to foster that program and even other programs like that into our communities, … [and] a lot of those children don’t have the transportation to get to a center like DREAMS.”
List three policy initiatives you would champion if elected.
“I think we really, really need an economic development person back on staff. … I’m going to be there every meeting asking the city manager where we stand on hiring this person. … We have to increase our tax base. We have to have that money coming in to hire more police officers … to fund more programs [and] to have a better marketing initiative.”
“I think that the city’s marketing starts with their website, especially for outside entities. And that’s one area that I like to see be easier to navigate, more attractive and not have dead links.”
Is transparency currently an issue with council?
“They could be doing a better job. I think I alluded to it in the last forum, I would like to see a town hall type of meeting once a quarter that a city council candidate attends on a rotating schedule.”
How would you have handled the baseball stadium?
“I understand what council was trying to achieve. I also understand that I did not want my taxes raised by it. … I think the voters thought the way that it was portrayed to them as the city taking this on all by themselves was not a good idea. The voters spoke, and that’s what’s great.”
How will you continue to serve Wilmington if you are not elected?
“I would continue to try to be as active as I can for my children and this community. … I wouldn’t be running for city council if I wasn’t passionate and optimistic about its future and trying to make this the best place possible for not just my generation but for my children’s generation.”
How can the city and county better work together?
“A big rift between the city and the county is the amount of money that the city generates for the county, but gets very little back in return for that. I think there needs to be some consolidation of services if agreeable.”
“It’s continuing the communicating. It’s not having a meeting once every three or four months or when an issue resolves. … It’s continuing that dialogue and mak[ing] sure that we sit down regularly and talk about issues.”
What don’t people know about you?
“I am a diehard sports fan. My sons and I are big Carolina Panthers fans. … I also love to fish. I love to go crabbing, clamming.”