Felix Cooper is one of six candidates running for three Wilmington City Council seats in the Nov. 5 elections. A former finance officer and manager for New Hanover County, he has worked in the public sector for decades, including a stint as the city manager for Key West, Fla.
Why are you running for city council?
The only thing I know is local government. Itís the only thing Iíve done in the last 25 years. Iíve enjoyed it and just wanted to see what itís all about. Ö I was the previous county manager here and was the previous city manager in Key West, Fla. You learn a lot just by sitting back and listening. There have been a lot of different issues that I have dealt with as manager, and I think it would be a great deal of help.
What are the biggest issues facing Wilmington?
Crime has become an issue. Traffic is one of the major issues, and with the influx of people coming in from Pender County and Brunswick County I think itís going to get worse. I think something needs to be done about it.
List three policy initiatives you would champion if elected.
I donít have any specific things in mind right now. Ö On crime, I think itís got to come from the family. Itís got to be implemented in a person when theyíre growing up and theyíve got to grow up knowing what the results of their actions are going to be. Ö More officers and more presence is one thing, but itís expensive. I think utilizing the countyís sheriffís department in the city would be a big help, and they do that to a certain extent. The city residents pay for the sheriffís department, itís one of their biggest expenses, but they donít get the benefit of the results from the sheriffís department like they should.
Is transparency currently an issue with council?
From time to time it is. They tend to cover up the things that they donít want the public to know about. I think thereís a lot of transparency concerns in the baseball thing. The people of Wilmington arenít against baseball; theyíre just against paying for it.
How would you have handled the baseball stadium?
I think they should have come right out to start with and let everybody know what itís going to cost and the fact that the city was going to have to pay for it. I donít think they should ever have let it get as far as it did Ö There was never any good faith put up by the baseball people.
How can the city and county better work together?
I think I could be a catalyst in the cooperation between the city and the county. I know both boards and I know how they operate and what they think about. Ö The city has always been jealous of what the county can do that they donít have any control over. And if the county will just, before they make any of these major decisions, go to the city and say Ďweíre going to do this,í or Ďweíre going to do that,í then ask them what they would rather [the county] do.
How will you continue to serve Wilmington if not elected?
I have applied for several of the committees on the city. I feel like there are certain jobs, committees that come open that I could serve on and be a big help to. I could help with the water and sewer authority, if I were allowed to.
What donít people know about you?
I have a bachelorís degree in business administration. I had three years at Georgia Tech in engineering until I was drafted in the Army and served a couple years in the military. Not a lot of people know that; I havenít pushed that. Itís something Iím proud of, but itís not something to brag about. Especially for those who got shot at, which I never did.