Candidates field questions at public forum in Troy

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Troy municipal candidates focused on common themes during a public forum Tuesday night – safety and economic development.

The Pike County Chamber of Commerce hosted the first of two candidate forums at the Pike County Courthouse. Tuesday’s meeting brought together candidates from Troy and next Tuesday’s event will focus on Brundidge candidates.

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Present at the first event were District 4 Councilman Johnny Witherington, District 1 Councilman Charlie Dunn, District 1 candidate Shelby Tuck, District 3 candidates Marcus Paramore and Todd Kreis, and District 5 candidate Dejerilyn King Henderson.

Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce themselves to the near 50 people in the audience. Next, questions were drawn at random and each candidate had two minutes to answer their respective questions. After another round of questions, the candidates closed with a two-minute opportunity to sway the crowd.

Tuck was selected for the first question and was asked what he would do to help keep Troy’s crime rate low.

“I think it starts with us as individuals,” Tuck said, encouraging people to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

Tuck also said he recommends quarterly meetings between council members and their districts to hear safety concerns and said he’d act as a liaison between his district’s residents and the police to promote a safer community.

Dunn was up next. He was asked what actions by the city need to be taken to ensure Troy University continues to grow and students are well served.

Dunn said that community safety and a continuation of the already-forged relationship between the city and the university was key.

Paramore was asked how he would better the city’s recreation and leisure activities. The candidate from District 3 noted that he believes Troy’s Parks and Recreations Department already has good leadership, but he’d like to see other sports highlighted to give even more children the opportunity to shine.

Witherington will remain the council member of District 4 after another candidate pulled out of the race, but said he attended because he didn’t want to back out of an event he agreed to participate in just because he had no competition for his seat.

Witherington was asked about how the city should maintain roads and infrastructure. The councilman shared how, just that evening, the council approved a $1.4 million road-resurfacing project.

Henderson’s question dealt with how she would handle the city’s aging buildings and infrastructure.

She said she believed the system the city had in place was “working quite well,” but there are still dilapidated buildings and homes in the area and that forward progress meant continuing to work on the problem.

Kreis was thrown a question asking him what measures he would like to see added when it comes to emergency preparedness.

“Day-to-day disasters are the main concern in my mind,” Kreis said, noting that he feels the city and county have adequate natural disaster plans in place.

Kreis said he’d like to see a program initiated to better familiarize ambulance drivers with county and city roads so they can respond faster.

Tuck’s name was randomly drawn to field the first question in the second round. He was asked how he would continue to recruit industry to the city.

Tuck said he’d like to see the city focus on recruiting car-manufacturing companies. He said that future industry was a must to keep opportunity growing for the children in the community so they can stay in the area and raise their own families.

Kreis was next and given a more controversial topic. He was asked what he would do to change or better the hospital.

Kreis recognized the question as a “touchy subject” and said he believes the city should figure out how to return the hospital to a private company.

“Some how, we’ve got to turn the hospital around,” Kreis said, “to get the people of this town to go to that hospital and feel safe.”

He suggested recruiting more specialists and surgeons to the area.

Dunn was given a query about economic development next. He was asked what needs to happen to continue all sorts of development, not just industry.

Dunn responded, “We need to continue to make Troy a safe place…Make Troy a place where people want to live.”

He said quality of life was key in attracting business.

Witherington took the microphone once again as he was asked how to ensure that specific needs are met for seniors, college students and minorities in Troy.

“We need to involve as many people as we possibly can in the government process,” he said, noting that the current set up of the council to represent each district helps that need along.

Paramore was asked how he’d try to keep unemployment numbers down.

The candidate cited economic growth as being paramount in the community. He said the city should work hard to keep providing good economic development incentives to companies in order to continue bringing stable jobs to Troy.

Last for the second round of questions was Henderson. She was asked about public transportation.

“I am a fan of needs assessments,” Henderson said, adding that while she believes one day Troy might need a more robust system, there isn’t a need for more buses in the area now.

However, Henderson did say she was an advocate for providing public transportation for students to get to school.

Wanda Moultry, incumbent councilwoman for District 5, could not attend the public forum.

The forum is scheduled to air multiple times on TV 52 today. Troy’s municipal election is Aug. 28.