Duck candidates discuss issues from beach access to snarled traffic

By on October 24, 2023

Duck Council candidates (L to R): Bren Chasen, Don KIngston, Kevin Lingard, Rob Mooney, Monica Thibodeau, Sandy Whitman.

In Duck, where all five town council seats are up for grabs this fall, four incumbents are seeking re-election, two challengers are making a bid for the council and one incumbent is not seeking another term.

The council incumbents running again are Mayor Don Kingston, Monica Thibodeau, Sandy Whitman and Rob Mooney. The challengers are Kevin Lingard and Bren Chasen. (In Duck, the mayor is chosen by the town council.) The one incumbent who did not file for re-election is Anthony Schiano.

The candidates gathered on Thursday, Oct. 12 to participate in forum sponsored by the Dare County League of Women Voters.

Of the incumbents, Kingston, who is serving his 12th year as mayor of Duck, spent more than four decades in the business world. Thibodeau, who has lived in Duck for 35 years, is the managing owner of Carolina Designs Realty and vice-chair of the Dare County Tourism Board. Whitman, a retired electrical contractor, has served two terms on the Duck Town Council. Before moving to Duck and being elected to the council, Mooney spent 28 years as a member of the New York City Police Department.

Of the challengers, Lingard, a retired realtor with a background in engineering, is a former UK resident who moved to Duck in 2020. And Chasen, who bought a house in Duck in 2018, is an independent consultant who sits on the Duck Planning Board.

During a discussion of the candidates’ vision for the town, Kingston cited the use of golf carts, motorized scooters and e-bikes as an issue that needs to be address as Duck copes with increased traffic and visitation and has “become an international destination.”

“As far as the bikes and the golf carts are concerned, we have enough problems at the moment with ordinary peddle bikes and conflict with people,” said Lingard. “Something needs to be done.” Mooney asserted that when it comes to e-bikes and golf carts, “My opinion is we shouldn’t have them, period. I think they’re dangerous.”

The candidates were asked about the longstanding issue of snarled summer traffic moving through Duck and whether there could be some form of collaboration with Southern Shores to mitigate the problem.

“We do live in a resort community,” noted Thibodeau, adding that a major portion of traffic that comes into Duck moves through the town. She, like some of her colleges, stated that building the proposed and long-awaited Mid-Currituck Bridge “will help alleviate some of that.” And she also stated that the live traffic webcams on the town’s website, will help by alerting people to times when vehicular travel in the town may not be advised.

Chasen offered a few suggestions including digital signs alerting motorists to travel conditions, the building of the Mid-Currituck Bridge and turn prohibitions onto certain streets. She added that she favored “getting a task force together with our adjacent municipalities.” Lingard suggested the idea of using police or volunteers could be deployed to halt pedestrians from crossing Duck Rd. for a certain interval to allow traffic to flow more smoothly.

Kingston said that while the Mid-Currituck Bridge represents a longer-term solution, “I don’t think there’s an easy short-term solution.”  Asserting that weekend summer traffic is “terrible,” Whitman said the “Mid-Currituck Bridge would be ideal for the weekends, but during the weekdays, we’re going to have to come up with some better ideas.” For his part, Mooney said the “biggest problem here [with traffic] is that we are victims of our own success,” adding that issue has “been looked at every which way that it can be, and the problem is volume.”

Another issue to emerge at the forum was the question of beach access in Duck, one that was litigated when local business owner Bob Hovey sued a homeowner’s association over its contention that its beach access was private. In 2020, a North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that the access was private.

Each of the candidates, in more or less the same words, agreed with Chasen’s response that the beach accesses in the town are “private property…It’s not something that the town can control.” While noting that “it would be nice to have public access,” Kinston agreed. Thibodeau added that “the beach itself is open the public,” but acknowledged that the thorny issue is the private access.

During the forum, a number of candidates also spoke about the value of Duck’s small- town feel and the idea that there wasn’t much room for additional development.

Lingard stated that, “I love the feel of Duck. I love that we don’t have a McDonald’s and a Chick-fil-A.”

Noted Mooney, “I think the town is built out about as much as it can be. I don’t think we need to be squeezing any more things into small spaces in Duck.”

Echoed Chasen: “I believe we are pretty well built out at this point. Any development would [have to] be redevelopment.”

Visit League of Women Voters of Dare County website to watch Dare County Candidate Forums.

SEE ALSO: Housing issues are front and center at Manteo candidates’ forum

Candidates make their case at Kitty Hawk forum

Southern Shores Council hopefuls vie for votes at LWV candidate forum

Affordable housing takes center stage at KDH candidate forum

Nags Head candidates discuss subjects from stormwater to the Soundside Event Site


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  • Original Recipe

    Never knew the Colonel was on the board!

    Tuesday, Oct 24 @ 8:19 pm
  • M

    It is really rich that Duck wants to work with SS when they have done nothing to help with the traffic issue!

    Putting in the divider between the walking path and the bike path created a hazard, a painted line would have worked fine. Now, you have landscaping to deal with and washout which creates a drop-off, and no break if a bike needs to move over; the design created a safety hazard.

    As for the golf carts, they should be all be licensed with proper safety features, I see kids driving them, small children being held in the parents laps, etc.

    Crossing at the crosswalks should be strictly enforced with signage to inform people of the penalty of not following the law.

    The Community as a whole needs to make a greater effort to inform tourist of the rules and enforce them until people get it. I get ten text a day about rip currents and no swimming, why not send info out on other safety issues. Have all rentals/hotels post the laws on crosswalks, golf carts, e-bikes, etc.

    Wednesday, Oct 25 @ 9:06 am
  • lippy

    Let’s have some term limits for these elected officials. Maybe if the mayor wasn’t there for more than a decade some fresh ideas about traffic would be forthcoming.

    Thursday, Oct 26 @ 6:52 am
  • Chris

    One lane, North 1 lane, South. That’s what makes traffic Jams. There’s really nothing else to talk about. Unless you’re gonna Fix the roads. So don’t waste your breath.

    Thursday, Oct 26 @ 7:26 pm
  • John Boy

    OMG..how much time is wasted talking about the traffic in DUCK….What the duck is wrong with these officials. Do they have no common sense. The problem is there are 13 unmonitored crosswalks that basically stops traffic every time some one decides to cross at any of them. It’s like having 13 stop lights that only stay green for 3 seconds. Cut down on the crosswalks…and make the pedestrians stand and wait between crossings!!!! It’s just ducking ridiculous .

    Thursday, Oct 26 @ 9:47 pm
  • Duckie

    As someone who has been coming to Duck for now 27 years annually, the traffic in Duck is not per say the problem, the problem is the lack of bypasses and ease ways, as anyone North has to go through Duck. Corolla is not slowing down on development and continues to build build build. Duck either needs to recognize that a bypass is needed or needs to be a little more action oriented on getting the bridge completed. The laziness is killing me, as you all continue to naval gaze a problem, and provide no real solutions. Why would you not even consider a ferry system in the meantime instead of the bridge?

    A second recommendation is this. Work with local businesses that are highly popular and move them from jammed locations, to provide proper parking, etc. I love Duck Donuts, but the access and parking to the location is absolute trash. I am sure there is a nostalgic connection as the original location, but move it to the far side of Scarborough Fair, where parking can be adequately facilitated. One of your MAJOR slow downs during peak times, is the obscene stupidity of the parking lot in the currently outgrown location.

    There are also plenty of opportunities to increase public access points to the beach. The town simply needs to actually impose an initiative to generate public parking on its primary streets at the end of the streets. Yeah, sure, property owners won’t like it, but having stayed on Duck Landing many times, it flat annoying to see no one use the supposed clubhouse at the end of the lane, and parking consistently empty because of “club only signs”. The club isn’t needed…maybe 10 people use it a day in peak season, and I am probably one of them as a consistent visitor. I won’t even mention the Four Seasons…what a pretentious location…. a gate? Really? I did not know the Duck crime rate was that intense.

    I would also think Mr. Thibodeu would take some responsibility as a member who owns one of the major realty management companies. Since COVID, the schedules and efficiency of house turnover has been a major issue. Check in times have been severely delayed, and to be plain, people are paying ever increasing prices for less service. Of course, they are not going to sit in a car for 12 hours, and just not want to check in when they get to the beach. How about some actual politicking be done, to coordinate the efforts of the management properties to emphasize efficient turnovers? I leave my house the morning of check in same as I always have 0600. We get there by 1100. Check out in houses has not changed….so why don’t you just ask people when they are coming and prioritize house turnover by arrival times. People are paying for the day…we know no discounts are provided on check-in day. Instead, quess what I and 100’s if not thousands of people have to do? Jam up traffic and parking lots during peak times, just to wait for our house.

    Friday, Oct 27 @ 10:14 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    FYI, Commissioner Thibodeau is a woman.

    Friday, Oct 27 @ 1:35 pm
  • Sean Mulligan

    Stop lights on poles next to crosswalks operating during heavy traffic times would alleviate traffic jams.It’s not Rocket science.

    Saturday, Oct 28 @ 9:02 am
  • Lisa

    It becomes so clear that Duck takes zero accountability for any of the traffice issues we experience mostly on Saturdays during the Summer. They also couldn’t manage beach nourishment without the help of Southern Shores. Until they understand that they are the problem in resolving this issue, we will get nowhere. As long as you want a bridge to go around them, anything else is fine as long as they are not involved. So very, very sad.

    Saturday, Oct 28 @ 10:32 am
  • Steven

    Duck should file suit against all towns north for doing this to them, Duck is punished and suffers due to their direct actions.

    Sunday, Oct 29 @ 8:37 am