Friday night, Lenoir-Rhyne University hosted a mayoral candidate forum at P.E. Monroe Auditorium. All six candidates were present. Jeff Brittain, Candice Harold, Dr. Jody Inglefield, Ernie Masche, Terry Revels, and Rudy Wright answered three questions posed by the Lenoir-Rhyne Professor Cade Hamilton and his debate team.
Videos (2 parts) are at the bottom of this article. Video quality isn't so great because of the stage lighting effect and the natural darkness of P.E. Monroe. The contrasts lead to a white-out effect. This is the best debate that I have ever watched live - very professionally facilitated. This is as level a playing field as you will ever see in a local election.The only suggestion I would make is to have the time manager on the center-front row with large time cue cards.
Cade Hamilton, Director of Speech and Debate, School of Journalism and Mass Communications Lenoir-Rhyne University
- What is your most significant achievement for the greater good of the City of Hickory and why does that make you most prepared to be the mayor?
- What would you do as mayor to help attract cultural events and diverse populations to Hickory?
- What are the two most significant issues facing the city of Hickory in the next two years and what would you do to address those issues?
Additional Topic Areas:
- Transparency and Accountability
- Jobs and the Local Economy
- Variances between Candidates
In witnessing this forum, once again we see five candidates who see many issues in the community that need to be addressed and an incumbent Mayor who comes across in a My Way or The Highway fashion. At least on this night he didn't talk about turning the corner or say the other candidates wanted his job after he had done all of the hard work.
In this round, we once again saw a defiant Mayor inferring that he was going to keep on doing it the same way he had been for the past twelve years and pontificating about a lack of understanding as to why the other candidates weren't addressing the issues he wanted to address. He seems to be confused about this not being the typical Hickory City Council Beauty Pageant setting. Of course, I don't mind pointing this out since I will never be awarded the Mr. Congeniality trophy.
The voters will have to make the call as to whether they agree with the five candidates who would like to see the city alter course on some issues/objectives or the three term Incumbent who seems to be wondering why he is being challenged and especially in this manner. To my knowledge, we have never seen a political race such as this in Hickory. And it really isn't hard to understand why it has come to this. The Status Quo wants to blame the Hickory Hound and the CEG, but maybe it is time that they do one of my favorite exercises of the past six-plus years -- REFLECTION!!! It is a healthy exercise.
There was an excellent opening message by Dr. Inglefield about his wife Rebecca and her arrest last year and being shocked about what he has learned over the last few years. "What does it take to shock the people of Hickory." He related all of this to a lack of communication and transparency. There was another excellent message by Jeff Brittain about finding Shark Teeth on a beach. He has hundreds. Most people never find one. He has a plan. He related that to bringing jobs to our area. No plan, no jobs. Ernie Masche took a cue from Mayor Wright and walked out towards the audience and sat on the front of the stage and spoke about it being time for a change and about transparency and needing youth in the community. He says that we need to look out for the whole city and not just certain sections. Candice Harold spoke about going to the Taco Bell on Hwy 70 on the weekend and meeting the young people who cruise late at night and how they expressed that there is nothing to do around here. They wouldn't be out cruising if they had a place to hang out. Terry Revels comes across as a man who truly loves and reveres the United States of America.
The Mayor has changed the dialogue from "Inspiring Spaces" to "Innovate Catawba" and "Innovate Hickory". He said that Inspiring spaces is a part of all of that. Pigs and Billy Goats... lipstick still ain't gonna change the situation.
The Mayor is now saying what he said at the Democrat Dinner forum was a S.W.A.G. (Silly Wild @$$ Guess) remark. You can go to the link at the bottom of this paragraph where the Mayor point blank says that the number being discussed is $80 million ($20 million State, $20 million Federal, $20 million Hickory, and $20 million hopefully from private interests - $2 million each over 10 years). I have also heard that from other sources. He knows that people don't want to hear this.
Link to the $80 million Comment.
He and the city are also trying to ride the coattails of a man's devotion towards his wife in the creation of a conservancy on the lake and swerve the meaning of that devotion towards their own message and objective - Ain't Cool.
One last comment - Hickory United PAC is definitely in Rudy's corner. They have to be, because none of the other five candidates support their extremist tactics that prey upon ignorance. They were the ones that asked a question about whether the candidates would support a gun manufacturer moving to Catawba County. As Dr. Inglefield answered the question the young Co-Chair of HUPAC immediately sprang up out of his seat, which was very noticeable, dialed his phone and was heard saying they were going to run an ad against Dr. Inglefield on Tuesday morning. He didn't even have the courtesy to listen to the man's answer. Wow! How ingenious! How original! Just like their ACORN thing from last year, but you know what they say about coming around and going around. Boys being boys, they never seem to learn that such tactics come back to bite you in the end.
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