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Only six of 14 aldermanic candidates attended the Manchester Times – Thunder Radio Manchester Municipal Forum Thursday night at Central High School.
But for Manchester’s highest office – Mayor – all four candidates made an appearance. A big crowd made it, too.
Approximately 150 people attended the forum in the CHS theater and each candidate used that platform to share unique theories about growth, retail and budgets – big talking points brought up by moderators Josh Peterson and Lucky Knott.
Of the 14 aldermanic candidates on the ticket, only Brent Bates, Michele Simmons, Gary Trail, Joshua Jackson Moore, Ryan French and Mark Messick made appearances. French was the only incumbent.
In the mayor’s race, all four candidates participated, including incumbent Betty Superstein, Lonnie Norman, Claude Morse and Stella McWhorter.
Following are a few answers provided by the mayoral candidates on key issues Thursday:
Mayoral candidate Lonnie Norman on raising taxes to 2.85 in his term as mayor in the 1990s –
“I couldn’t even tell you what kind of car I was driving in 1992 and 1993. I don’t know what kind of project came up to make us raise taxes. But I guarantee you whatever it was we looked at and their was no other choice.”
Mayoral candidate Betty Superstein about Kohl’s Department Store -
“I truly think the city did everything they possibly could. The first time that Kohl’s came back to the board and said ‘our sales are down,’ we developed a tax increment-financing package and offered them $300,000 as part of it. We had an eight-inch water line already in place. They needed a 12-inch water line for fire protection and all. We, the city, offered to take care of that for them, and that was a little over $52,000 just to replace that line.”
Mayoral candidate Claude Morse on needing four new aldermen for city government -
“We need a fresh start in city government. A little over a year ago I was approached by business and city leaders and asked if I would consider running. Shortly after that the board voted to extend their terms. I think voters need to take a good look at that. I think we need to have a more functional board of mayor and alderman. I think we need some fresh people with solid business experience. I would hope the voters would elect several
new aldermen and a new mayor.”
Mayoral candidate Stella McWhorter on her “Common Sense Government” slogan –
“Not spending more money than you’ve got. You can’t do it. We don’t have any common-sense government. Sorry Mrs. Superstein that’s the way it is. And they can’t agree on nothing. They buy something and they don’t ask us what we think about it. … There is no common
sense in this government.
Following are a few answers provided by the aldermanic candidates on key issues Thursday:
Ryan French on why he has been absent for 26 percent of city meetings during his first term as alderman -
“First of all, out of that 26 percent I would garner that about 90 percent are special-called meetings. Our government isn’t supposed to run on special-called meetings. I have a full time job. I work 45 hours a week. If you tell me on Tuesday we have a meeting next Monday at noon, guess what, I probably won’t be able to go to that one. I attend my committee meetings. I attend important votes. I make sure my vote is cast. I’m a working man. I work 40 hours a week. If I’m not gonna’ be at a meeting, I’ve made them aware of it. Special called meetings are tough. Can’t always be there for those.”
Brent Bates addressing his candidate eligibility -
“That’s not correct, I am a resident of Manchester. I own several commercial properties inside the city limits I have an enormous amount of city property taxes plus businesses and everything else. The biggest stipulation was that saying that me basically saying that that the city address where I live is a city street in front of where I live, but technically my house is listed in the county.”
Mark Messick on business background –
I can’t speak three minutes on that. I worked last 15 years, if I didn’t work and bring it home I couldn’t live … I guess what I’m trying to say is I know how to live through the good times. I’ve lived through the boom times in real estate and bust time in real estate. I’ve been able to drive a new car and I’ve been lucky to drive a beat up pickup. You learn to budget. In the good times you save a little money to get you through bad times. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if we learned that [in] city government.
Michelle Simmons on business –
First of all, I am continuing my education in business. I have had several different jobs in my lifetime. I’ve done restaurant, I’ve done marketing, sales, grocery. It’s a lot different looking at a small business owner from a higher perspective than actually being in the business. Unless you’ve walked in shoes… had a taste of having a bad week and not getting a paycheck, it makes a difference.
Gary Trail on his main goal upon taking office –
I’d like to see a balanced budget because I can’t operate without keeping balanced. You can’t borrow yourself out of debt. I strongly oppose increasing taxes. Decreasing taxes would be great, if that could be done. I oppose expanding government. I support, for sure, education. That is a strong thing that’s needed. We have a good system but it can be improved upon. Expanding our infrastructure – roads highways and everything else that goes with that. There needs to be industrial board, chamber of commerce, board of mayor and alderman and concerned citizens to actively pursue all of these.
Joshua Jackson Moore on business in Manchester –
When I think of what the chief export of the City of Manchester is and will be, unless we make some wholesale changes, is our kids. When your child graduates from Coffee County High School, what are their choices? They can go to work in industrials, they can hope to get a job with the city, or [the base] or Batesville. If you run through three or four options that’s about it. That’s not acceptable in 2012, that’s not acceptable in a town that has wonderful potential for transient dollars. The fact that we are a small town of 10,000 people is not an excuse not to create industry. We have five exits and not very much on them.”