Friday, October 23, 2009

Oak Grove hosts last candidate forum Goodman/Elswick Turner – videos

Oak Grove Neighborhood Watch

Oak Grove Neighborhood Watch

 Board of Supervisor candidates Ed Elswick (R) and Sarah Goodman (D) made their last case to the voters at Oak Grove Elementary School Thursday night. The forum was hosted by Sarah Cann teacher and member of the Oak Grove Neighborhood Watch.

Elswick did an about-face on his support of greenways saying the perception that he did not favor them stemmed from frustration at an interview with business leaders. He expected questions on bringing jobs and economic opportunities for business but instead got questions on greenways.  He said, “he does support greenways” and lamented the destruction of trees by gypsy moths on Bent Mountain and the indiscriminate clear cutting by developers who find it easier for construction. “There needs to be more controls on developers,” said Elswick.

His 31-years of finance experinece working for GE makes him well-suited for the Windsor district seat says Elswick. He claims with his experience he could save the County money and assist other board members when reviewing contracts that leave the County open to cost overruns.

Goodman reiterated her three key platform issues – education, active promotion of economic development and promoting quality of life issues. As examples she gave parks and greenways.

Goodman was perplexed by her opponents about-face on the greenways but said, “she hoped that he had a change of heart.”

She said that the National Homeowners Associated rated walking trails and greenways as top amenities desired by homeowners.

She took Elswick to task over his debate comment that citizens should not fund projects only used by a few. Goodman compared projects that many citizens may not all use like libraries and saying “not everyone has children in public schools.”

“I didn’t always tell the groups that endorsed me what they wanted to hear,” said Goodman. Roanoke Realtors are “resistant to support mandating fire sprinklers in residential construction.” Goodman however, told them she supports installation of sprinklers on the premise that it will save the lives of citizens and firefighters. “They didn’t like my answer,” said Goodman “but they endorsed me anyway.”

Carter Turner (D) debated himself Thursday evening. Incumbent Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R) had a retirement dinner that was long planned and was unable to attend.

Both races have heated up in recent weeks after two previous highly attended and vigorous debates. Speaking of Griffith’s lack of opposition in past elections, Turner said, “I think it’s critical for the voters to see they have choices. When incumbents never have to face challenges to their leadership style and decisions, we lose the foundation for representative democracy.”

Turner was at ease talking to perspective constituents and seemed to get his public speaking stride. The relaxed forum was best for them all and they made themselves available informally after they spoke.

There is something about this type of communication that gives voters a better chance to get to know the candidate – no “odd” questions. The format still gives some leeway for questioning the opponent’s stance on issues but there is an interactive connection with the voters. Attendees seem to come away complaining from formal Q&A debates getting little out of them.

Back to Turner’s remarks – he expanded on his idea of increasing the cigarette tax by 30 cents. He said that Griffith opposes the increase because it creates an undue burden on the poor. Turner said the 30 cent increase equates to only two cigarettes a day. He cited not only health issues but that Virginia had the second lowest cigarette tax in the nation. The increase would only make Virginia tenth.

Turner discounts Griffith’s stance that it will cost jobs in Virginia and cited a study that proved otherwise. The study he cited claims that it would actually create jobs by making people more productive at work. “It would actually encourage people to give up smoking,” said Turner.

Turner said if Griffith is so concerned about the poor, “he finds it curious that his opponent voted to reject $125 million of stimlus money for the unemployed … if we don’t get it then it goes to some other state.”

The “undue burdon” Griffith claims is $4.5 per employee a year – “Only $45 a year for 10 employees,” said Turner.

Turner calles himself a “moderate Democrat … a Blue-dog Democrat.” He described his opponent’s views as “ideological.” 

His reason for running is “because he is sick of the partisanship that creates gridlock in Richmond.”

Later I asked Turner if he supported automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons after serving time and other stipulations. Turner said yes and that it was a matter of “taking ownership in society … they should absolutely have their rights restored.”

Turner felt confident that the district was ready for a change.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Election 2009, Politics, Roanoke County Politics, Video

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