First City Council Candidate Forum
The League of Women Voters sponsored a forum Monday featuring five of the eleven remaining city council candidates. Monday’s forum included candidates Jane Adams, Jessica Bradshaw, Lee Fronabarger, Tom Grant, and John Holt. The six remaining candidates are scheduled to participate in a separate forum on Wednesday. I watched from home on channel 16, but I missed the first twenty minutes. I’m hoping for a rebroadcast.
All five candidates agreed that Carbondale should not consider privatizing city services like water, sewer, and trash removal. All six also agreed that Carbondale’s liquor ordinance should be amended to allow beer and wine sales at grocery stores. Several candidates proposed police foot patrols in some parts of town.
The candidates were asked to name their two priorities if they are elected. Adams named three: renew, revitalized, and reinvest in Carbondale. Bradshaw would prioritize revitalizing the downtown and increasing sustainability. Fronabarger would prioritize economic development and balancing the budget while maintaining the quality of city services. Grant wants to prioritize financial stability and public safety. Holt would prioritize building unity in a diverse community and making Carbondale competitive with neighboring towns.
The candidates were also asked about their priorities for implementing the comprehensive plan. Adams emphasized learning from similar communities in finding solutions to blighted neighborhoods and substandard housing. Bradshaw would prioritize a dog park – though not on the old High School football field – and improvements to the city’s housing. Fronabarger named economic development as his top priority. Grant would prioritize economic development and is willing to be flexible in the implementation of the plan. Holt acknowledged some disagreement with the plan but said he would feel honor bound to implement it. Holt stressed that the plan is a guide, not settled law.
The most interesting portion of the forum asked each candidate to write down a question. The questions were shuffled, and each candidate answered one. All of the candidates asked great questions. If I have time, I may write a separate post later this week dedicated to that section of the forum.
As I mentioned previously, I voted for Adams, Fronabarger, and Holt in February’s primary. I didn’t see anything tonight that would make me change my preference. I liked Adams’ answers best, followed by Fronabarger, then Holt, then Grant, then Bradshaw.
I think the council election is shaping up as a race for third. Obviously it’s tough to predict these things, but we do have one poll: last month’s primary. It’s an imperfect sample; historically turnout in council and mayoral primaries is much lower than turnout in general elections. Still, it is the only public poll available.
In the primary, first place finisher Don Monty (18.9%) and second place finisher Jane Adams (15.6%) were the only candidates to earn a double digit share of the vote. Since the primary, they have run two of the most active campaigns. If the primary is any guide, Monty and Adams seem likely to win in April.
That leaves one seat left to fill. In the primary, one vote separated third place finisher Tom Grant and fourth place finisher Lance Jack. Sixty-nine votes separated Jack from fifth place. Using the primary as a guide, it’s easy to look at the council election as a two person race for the third council seat.
I should point out that nothing should be taken for granted. Primaries are not a perfect guide to the general election. Sheila Simon beat Brad Cole in the 2007 mayoral primary before Cole defeated Simon
by a two-to-one margin by almost 13 points in the general election. The primary electorate is different than the electorate in the general election. The number of candidates makes this election particularly unpredictable.
Incidentally, I thought Fronabarger had the best line of the evening. He called Carbondale an “oasis in the desert of Little Egypt.”
Comments are welcome.
***CORRECTED: I received a comment (see below) alerting me that I had overstated Brad Cole’s victory in the 2007 mayoral election. The mistake has been corrected. I apologize for the error.***