by Reeves Bridges | Staff Writer
On Monday February 25, 2019, PC’s Political Science Department held a “Meet the Candidates” forum. Candidates from the Mayoral, Ward 2, and Ward 6 elections came to answer questions on their thoughts and plans about issues facing the Clinton Community. The event was free and open to all students, faculty, staff, and citizens of the Clinton Area. The forum was moderated by Mr. Randy Stevens of the “Good Morning UpCountry” radio show and the questions he asked the candidates were given to them ahead of time.
The first group of candidates came from the City Council Ward 2 election. In order to appearance, the candidates were Sherri Amick, Rosa Booker, Shirley Jenkins (the incumbent for the election), and Reginald Vance.
Sherri Amick believes that Clinton’s biggest challenge is the disconnect between the people and the police force. She also has goals to hold city wide cleaning days, in order to combat litter, and to help answer the community by being more transparent with city meetings. However, when asked about how to help small business in the local area, Amick had no answer.
Rosa Booker is the community outreach manager for Clinton and passionately spoke about her plans to contact DOT about the roads surrounding PC, bring in job workshops and a homeless shelter, and a policy to help Lydia Mill tear down abandoned mills in the area. Booker’s slogan “Yes we can make our city beautiful again” certainly struck with the audience as she had the second highest votes for who won the Ward debate.
Incumbent Shirley Jenkins has spent 24 years on city council. She feels the biggest challenge for Clinton is the drainage of storm water into the sewer system, while the biggest opportunity is development and housing. However, Jenkins did blame the lack of new affordable housing on the citizens and the planning committee. Jenkins did provide insight into the utility rates in town, saying it is due to a 1985 contract. She would also like to introduce a Hospitality Tax for the start of the recreational facility coming to town.
Lastly, Reginald Vance spoke at length on the need for a plan that brings industrialization and embraces diversity in Clinton. He also wants a 10% break for elderly, retired, and disabled on taxes and to increase student housing in downtown.
Following Vance, the Ward 6 candidates. The two who were present were Megan Walsh and Jimmy Young, the incumbent for the Ward. Megan Walsh has a huge goal for the city: communication. While it sounds easy, it is understandably not. Walsh wants to help make younger adults feel more involved by reaching out to them, provide more student housing while removing the stigma of affordable housing, and increase communication between police and citizens.
Jimmy Young has served for 4 years in office and said if he is reelected this will be the end of his time. Young took a majority of his amount of time to debunk some of the other candidates’ comments, such as talking about the costs of leaving the utility contract, citizens not wanting new affordable housing, the roads around PC being DOT and not their fault, and that city council meetings do have a time for comments from citizens. There were very few moments where he took responsibility or told his plan for improvement.
Finally, the final two speakers came from the Mayoral Election. Ricky Martin Sr. and incumbent Bob McLean both were present. Martin said during his introduction that he was upset about the lack of care and respect he had been shown from the Mayor and City Manager during an event he held. He wants to make a resource center to be used by the youth and elderly for leisure and health. He wants to use the empty buildings downtown for lofts, service businesses, and possibly a bar.
Incumbent Bob McLean decided not to wait for Mr. Randy Stevens who took a quick break and used the time to say to look at his accomplishments vs the promises of other candidates. McLean said there has been no raise in utility prices because Clinton is its own economic force thanks to the financial stability. McLean said there is nothing to do for the abandoned buildings due to the amount of ecommerce sales instead of retail. McLean also said the best opportunity for Clinton is the development in Industrial Park.
Following the forum, members of the Blue Stocking Staff conducted an exit poll of volunteer members of the audience to collect their thoughts on what they saw. The results weighed in favor of Shirley Jenkins, Megan Walsh and Ricky Martin Sr. Dr. Erin McAdams of the PC Political Science Department played a major role in the event. “We were all able to learn more about the candidates, their priorities for the city, and their positions on important issues that our community faces. Our hope is that this type of town-and-gown event can help to develop an even closer relationship between the College and members of the local community,” McAdams said.
The elections for the city of Clinton will take place on Tuesday, March 5. Complete answers to the poll are below.