Snippets from the City Council candidate’s forum

I won’t have a lot of time tonight to post about the at-large Candidate Forum but I must say, it was one of the best forums I have ever witnessed.  Utilizing a whole host of questioning formats, local webloggers (namely Roch, Michael and Hardy) squeezed some real substance out of what many times can come off as a staid, tedious and predictable question and answer session.

But I do have time to post about a few exchanges I thought were quite interesting.

One of “The Big Two” questions that every candidate was asked to answer concerned Brush Creek.  This creek, which runs through the area near the airport’s expansion project, was labeled many years ago by the state as being “impaired”, and it is getting worse.  This label was assigned because even though it is one of the headwaters of our drinking supply, it contains ”12 times the legal limit of turbitity”.  Meaning the pollution in the creek is pretty awful.  From their answers, none of the candidates exhibited any knowledge that Greensboro even has a Brush Creek, much less any knowledge of how polluted it is. (And no, I did not provide the question.  But there was a big discussion of this problem in the local blogosphere several months ago.)

When asked, during the “Jump In” round, if the candidates would support the City offering ‘partner benefits’ to gay and lesbian employees, George Subasavage provided an honest, non-PC, but probably unelectable answer to the question which started off with this comment “That’s going to be a hard one for meI have some difficulties dealing with gay and lesbian activities.”  Florence Gatten jumped in with some news on that front and informed us that the city’s staff is presently studying the issue.  (She said she would support the policy, BTW.)  Candidate Diane Davis wisely wondered how such a policy will affect how the city regards live-in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.

Later, in the “Lightening round” which only allowed for one word, or short phrase answers, another question was posed concerning gay/lesbian/bi issues.  (After all, local bloggers are ALL bleeding heart liberals, you know)  The question was in regard to current city policy regarding antidiscrimination: (edited per Roch’s comment below) “Do the city ordinances prohibit businesses in the city from discriminating for employment based on sexual orientation?”  The surprising answer is that it does not.  All candidates got that one wrong except for Florence Gatten, who was unsure.

When asked a lengthy question about each candidate’s knowledge of Greensboro’s disaster preparedness plans, Mayor pro-tempore Yvonne Johnson provided a disturbing answer which, in part, went something like this, “If we had a catastrophe, I don’t think we would know what to do.“  Well, City Council, lets get on that one tomorrow, shall we?

I could go on, but I’ve got to be in Charlotte early tomorrow morning – but I’ll leave you with this last one for now…

During the one-word-response ‘lightening round’, one of the questions posed to all eight candidates was:  “Do you have any plans to run for Mayor of Greensboro?”  All five of the unelected challengers responded with a plain spoken “no”, or similar answer.  But when the current Council members weighed in, their answers went like this:  Yvonne Johnson – “yes” (no secret there).  Don Vaughan brought the house down when he went over the one word answer rule and responded with a resounding – “HELL no”.  But Florence Gatten provided me with the shock of the night when confronted with providing a simple answer as to whether or not she had designs on the mayor’s office. She smiled and said – “Yes”.


OK, two more…

One of the most intersting segments of the forum was when each candidate was given the opportunity to ask one other candidate any question they pleased.  Two of the opportunities were notable.

Impressive challenger Sandra Anderson asked her main competitor Florence Gatten why the recent Council vote to oppose the Truth & Reconcilliation process followed racial lines.  (The six white members voted to oppose the process, the three black members voted against the motion to oppose).  Gatten said some things about how there were some misunderstandings among members of the Council on how that whole thing went down, but she never actually answered Anderson’s question.

Later, when it was Yvonne Johnson’s turn to ask a question of the other candidates, I just knew she was going to press Gatten further on the issue, or engage Don Vaughan (one of the other white ‘yes’ votes) in a similar conversation – she declined to ask anyone anything.

When it was Diane Davis’ turn, she chose to ask Don Vaughan a question about public funding for the new, and privately owned, Center City Park.  Davis simply wanted to know how much of the public’s money has been committed to the park to date.

During his one minute answer, Don reiterated how great he believes the park will be for downtown’s ongoing resurgence and some other things.  But, when Diane was asked by the moderator if she wanted to ask a follow-up question of Don, she said, “No, I want him to answer my first one.”  After she restated her question, Don finally responded that he wasn’t exactly sure how much taxpayer money has thus far been committed to bringing the privately owned park to fruition.

None of us do, Don…  none of us do.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 9, 2007 at 5:57 am | Permalink


    What do you think about Tokio Hotel? >:)