Political forum introduces candidates and issues

Infrastructure, beautification, sewer spills, unemployment
Sep. 20, 2013 @ 10:06 AM

Moments after finding their seats at Piedmont Crossing Retirement Community, those in attendance at Tuesday’s “Meet the Candidates” forum found a list of recommended questions to ask the 14 candidates running for Thomasville’s mayor and city council seats.

Some strayed from the script, but conversation continued to make its way back to several items that quickly emerged as topics for local November elections. City infrastructure, beautification, sewer spills and unemployment were front and center throughout the night as hopefuls answered questions from about 30 concerned citizens.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve you over the last two years,” Councilman Joel Pierce said in his opening remarks. “I’ve had a chance to get out and meet people from all over town. Just when you think you know everybody, you get out and find a constituent with a new issue. I feel like I’m a problem solver. It’s a challenge to me to try to solve that issue.”

Pierce was joined by fellow incumbents Neal Grimes, Joel Pierce, Pat Harris Shelton, Scott Styers and Raleigh York Jr. Ronald Bratton was unable to attend. Their challengers include Jay Browning, Rhonda Florence, Joe Leonard, Carl Shatley, Jason Varner and Johnny West. All seven seats are up for election.

Also attending were Mayor Joe Bennett, who is seeking his fifth term, and challengers Earl Harrison and J.W. Mathis.

Candidates rotated among five tables and were given 10 minutes at each table for questions.

“The two most important things you can invest in right now are our infrastructure and our children,” said Varner, who is contending for a second time to gain a council seat.

Browning, like Varner, is again attempting to secure what would be his first term as city councilman. He introduced himself to voters as a candidate interested in maintaining an open agenda.

“I just want to see a lot of transparency in government,” Browning said. “I want to make sure everybody is accountable for what they do.”

The room was mixed between incumbents, who have many years of experience between them, and their counterparts, who hope to add fresh perspective to old problems. The civil discourse appeared to leave citizens with a sense of satisfaction as they departed with an increased knowledge of the candidates.

Voter registration deadline is Oct. 11. Early voting run  Oct. 21 through Nov. 1  at the Thomasville Public Library. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.  For more details, visit www.votedavidsoncountync.com.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.