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A Public Voice, An Open Government, A Shared Vision

CONGRATULATIONS to Gary McDonald, Fred Newberry, and Chris Nason on their victories on Election Day. I thank everyone who voted for me and wish the town council newcomers the best. Please give them your support and stay informed with town goings-on. It was a pleasure for me to get to know so many more of my neighbors during my campaign. Thank you!

Dear Southern Shores neighbors:

I am running for a seat on our town council. I would appreciate your vote and invite you to meet me and learn about my candidacy through this website. If you have any questions or concerns, you may call and leave a message at (252) 261-9030, and I will get back to you.

My Southern Shores History

My history with this beautiful place that we call home dates back nearly 50 years to when my father, whom you may know as Dr. Al, scouted property here in the late 1960s. In 1971, my parents built the first house on pilings on the Southern Shores oceanfront, amid Frank Stick’s ground-level flat tops. The once-nontraditional, burnt-red cottage at 174 Ocean Blvd. still stands, now quite inconspicuous among so many other “raised” tops.

For 30 years I viewed Southern Shores as my home away from home, as well as my vacation retreat. Then, in 1991, I became a Southern Shores beach rental-cottage owner myself and a part-time resident. In 1994, I graduated to full-time resident; and in 1998, I embraced homeownership on Hickory Trail in the woods. (Please click on “Biography” and “Southern Shores Past” to learn more about my background and local roots and to read Outer Banks commentaries that I wrote as a columnist with The Virginian-Pilot.)

A Vision to Protect and Preserve

There is no place in the world like our town. We have the majestic ocean; wide, pristine beaches; lofty, tree-sheltered dunes; a lush maritime forest; and the serene, but sometimes threatening Currituck Sound all within the expanse of one mile.

I would like to protect and preserve this special place and town and safeguard and improve the quality of our lives in it. According to the vision statement in the current Land-Use Plan for our town, Southern Shores is a “quiet seaside residential community . . . served by picturesque local roads (rather than wide through streets) along the beach, in the dunes, [and] in the soundside maritime forest.” The consensus among the hundreds of property owners who expressed viewpoints in preparation of this plan is that they would like “to maintain the existing community appearance and form.” Adopted in July 2012, the Land-Use Plan defines our collective objectives and priorities. It would guide me in my opinion- and decision-making on the town council.

As your representative, I would endeavor to learn what you think about important issues. I have a platform, but I do not have an inflexible agenda. I believe in public forums, community discussions, and other exchanges of ideas that are well-publicized and open to all residents and property owners to attend. Actual notice and an opportunity to be heard: These are precious fundamental guarantees of the U.S. form of government.

I’m a well-trained and experienced journalist, former practicing attorney, and mediator. In problem-solving, I listen, I do research, and I apply reason, logic, empathy, and understanding. I have been “on the record” since I started writing for newspapers in college. You won’t have to guess about where I’m coming from, and I promise I’ll be open-minded and fair.

Pressing Issues

Since last September, I have advocated in town council meetings and in meetings with the mayor, the mayor pro tem, the town manager, and other Southern Shores officials in support of the vision statement and the public voice. Here, in brief, are my views on the pressing issues facing our town. I elaborate on them in the link, “Southern Shores Future,” above.

Traffic: We need a can-do town council that will work determinedly with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation, Currituck County, and the towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk to take rational and tough measures to improve the flow of traffic on Hwy. 12 during summertime weekends and to restrict cut-through traffic in the woods and the dunes. Residentials streets should not be used as thoroughfares by vacationing motorists heading to northern beaches, nor should speed, stop-sign, and no-thru violations be ignored.

Roads: Infrastructure must be maintained; curtailing the traffic will go a long way toward protecting existing infrastructure. If a road needs repair or rebuilding, the construction should reflect a town policy of low-impact development. The Land-Use Plan is very clear that the town “will ensure an adequate system of roads, bridges, and pathways to meet the transportation and safety needs of the Town in a way that protects, preserves, and where possible, improves the environment and water quality.”

Clear-cutting: All of us are stewards of our protective forest, wetlands, and dunes. We should disturb existing trees and other vegetation as little as possible, so as to maintain the natural barriers, storm-water drainage, wind buffers, and other protections they afford us. The forest guards our homes.

Fiscal responsibility and accountability: I’m all for both! The town’s FY 2015-16 budget is $6.7 million, with more than $2 million going into salaries and exceptionally generous benefits for employees. I’ve examined the town budgets dating back to the FY 2009-10 budget, which was just $3.4 million. It is time for a strict accounting, with item-by-item details, of what the town is funding and why.

Taxes: I see no reason to increase town property taxes. We should be looking to tighten the town’s budgetary belt, not expand it.

Elders: I care deeply about the elders in our town. My parents retired to Southern Shores in 1996, and my mother still lives in the N. Dogwood Trail home that she shared with my father. In my role as their primary caregiver and healthcare advocate, I learned that Southern Shores residents cannot receive “Meals on Wheels” from the area Agency on Aging. With the help of community volunteers, we can change that, as well as explore other ways to enrich elders’ lives and help them to live independently in their own homes.

We need an open-door government. We need responsible, reasonable, honest, creative, and kind people—people with character and integrity—guiding the present and future of Southern Shores. Together, through a shared vision, we can preserve, protect, and enhance our town and the quality of life we enjoy. I respectfully ask for your support.

Thank you very much.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma

September 2015