Mount Vernon — The Fleetwood Citizen’s Society hosted the only scheduled City Council Candidate debate of the 2015 Mount Vernon primary on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at The Riverside Memorial Chapel, located at 21 Broad Street. The six candidates included André Wallace, Lisa Copeland, Delia Farquharson, Diane Munro and Janice Duarte (who is a Democrat running on the Independence Party line.) One week later on Wednesday, August 19th the FCS hosted the Mayoral Candidate debate (stay tuned for full video coverage of Mayoral debate in the next few days).
I polled the members of the FCS to see who they felt won the debate, the feedback, I got back from members and other people who attended the Forum is as follows:.
André Wallace, as an outsider and a contractor was very favorable. He was best received. Even those who were concerned about his only wanting to get the city construction contracts were impressed with his command of the city problems and his straight forward solutions. An exceptional listener.
Janice Duarte, another outsider, impressed most people as to her intelligence, creative, articulate & caring about M.V. citizens.
Delia Farquharson, an obvious people person, who sounds like she cares & can handle the job. An exceptional listener. Some people are concerned about the fact she was on the school board and voted for the 24% tax increase.
John Boykin,some people feel he had a good idea of what are the problems in this city. With his background he should be able to handle the position. But they feel he may have dodged some questions and may not change anything. It appeared that he did not listen to the other candidates when they were speaking, very discerning.
Diane Munro came across knowledgeable, but her voting for 24% school board tax increase worried some people. Some members say they heard double talk.
Lisa Copeland, members say she appeared to have a disconnect with the audience on the Broad Street Municipal garage. Others said she is a Mayor Davis puppet.
Each candidate had received two minutes to introduce themselves, received two minutes each to answer the questions and then had a two-minute time period to give closing remarks. One criticism was the amount of questions, the FCS hosting their first ever debate had members suggest questions and the top eight were asked, but with six candidate it didn’t leave time for questions from the audience which some in attendance were looking forward to that.
The questions each candidate we asked were, 1 – Mount Vernon taxes have risen 24% in the last 4 years. What is your economic plan to decrease taxes and bring jobs back to the city? 2 – Violent crime including murder in our city are increasing at an alarming rate. What solutions do you propose to protect us and reverse this dangerous trend? 3- Currently, we have an undermanned fire department and insufficient equipment to keep our citizens safe. Compound this with the addition of several new residential buildings and likelihood of several more during your tenure, how would you improve our safety without increasing our taxes? 4-2 Part: What is your position on the city wanting to “give away” the Broad Street Municipal Garage? And… Should a building be proposed anywhere in the city without providing its own parking? 5- We need an overall, comprehensive plan for responsible development in all of Mount Vernon, driven by the city itself not the developers. Discuss your ideas for this plan. 6- The current city plans to increase living space in Mount Vernon by building more hi-rise apartment buildings. How would you adapt the city for a larger population with regard to municipal services? 7- How do you plan to improve communications between Mount Vernon citizens and City Hall? 8- Since the county plan for Memorial Field was rejected and the field is in a total disgrace for our city, how would you rebuild this historic landmark and restore Mt. Vernon’s tarnished reputation?
While neither FCS debate was well publicized like the upcoming mayoral debate at the Waltburg, again we say, if it wasn’t for the Fleetwood Citizen’s Society they would not have been a city council debate in Mount Vernon. The FCS was created for residents of Fleetwood to fight the privatization of the Broad Street Municipal Garage that is part of the unwanted 16 Floor 249 unit, luxury Apartment building slated to be built at 42 W. Gramatan Avenue.
“I felt that André ‘won’ for want of a better word this forum,” Robert Eik shares with BW. “He appeared to have a lot of knowledge of the workings of city hall, having dealt with the bidding of the Memorial Field debacle. Lisa did poorly once she started answering the question of the municipal garage. She indicated that the allegations that the city gave away our garage was not true. John also showed promise but now I need to hear his response to the allegations of him taking money for repair work after Sandy without doing any of the promised labor. Diane also was a strong contender, having had a background as a council member. But overall, in my opinion, Andre did best.”
Editor’s Note: BW spoke with Council Candidate John Boykin after the mayoral debate to see if he wanted to reschedule his appearance on PBP Radio. He had schedule to appear but felt he didn’t want to be on the defensive after everyone had a chance to watch the Glen Herious interview and that BW didn’t give him a chance to tell his side of the story when we ran it. HE said it’s still in litigation and he couldn’t speak to the situation in entirety, but did say they were some inaccuracies in Herious’ interview, he would like to address. We extended another invitation for Boykin to appear on the show by himself or with Herious at a time when he can speak without restrictions and after the primary. Stay Tuned we will bring that to you if he chooses to take us up on our invitation.