Wilmington, NC – The line of municipal candidates stretched elbow to elbow across the stage at Wilmington's Level Five Monday night, but their views were often much further apart than their folding chairs.
Darting from topic to topic, forum questions covered everything from the safety of downtown parking decks to tax incentives for relocating businesses and how to increase the supply of affordable housing.
Few common themes emerged from the dozen candidates, although several attacked the city's reliance on outside consultants, and others urged greater adoption of green technologies, such as biofuels and green roofs. The Convention Center and the sewer system also took their perennial places in the conversation.
Jack Watkins, a past candidate himself, was in the audience, and says experience matters to him.
I guess I'm wondering how many of the people who are simply running, if they know how to get down to City Hall, if they've ever been there, have they ever been involved in it before. Sometimes that confuses the issue, by having so many people run, unfortunately.
After the forum, new resident Cathy Lewis says she still hasn't decided whom she'll vote for, but is concerned about the city's environmental issues.
Just how the community presents itself and that needs to come from community members, not just the people that are setting the policies and things like that. So I liked hearing that a lot of people wanted to listen to what the people had to say.
A dozen men and women are vying for three seats on city council. Another three are chasing the mayor's office. Two Council candidates missed Monday night's forum - representatives for Pat Delair and Kevin Delahunty said both had personal emergencies that kept them from attending.
There are at least five more forums planned for Wilmington's mayoral and city council candidates to give their views before the election on October 9th.
WHQR, the Star News, and WECT are hosting a Wilmington mayoral forum on September 19th.
We'll be putting listener questions to the candidates. Email yours to us at firstname.lastname@example.org