Views, ideas shared at Granville forum

Oct. 02, 2013 @ 07:33 PM

OXFORD — Incumbents advocated their accomplishments and challengers offered freshness Tuesday evening.

More than 60 residents attended a candidate forum in the Granville County Convention and Expo Center sponsored by the Granville County Chamber of Commerce, Human Relations Committee and the League of Women Voters Unit of Granville County.

Municipal elections are scheduled throughout the county on Nov. 5.

Of the 38 candidates, 21 made presentations. Each candidate was given three minutes.

A three-way race is in place for the office of mayor in Oxford, where incumbent Jackie Sergent is being challenged by Jim Crawford Jr. and Howard Herring Sr.

Leading off the presentations, Sergent listed achievements of the board of commissioners while she has been mayor, including the hiring of a city manager, police chief, a downtown economic development director and a city clerk. Among the accomplishments she cited were the extension of water and sewer service to the Granville County Convention and Expo Center. She advocated a regional approach to economic development. Her vision is to make Oxford a “historic, vibrant and walkable city.”

She concluded, “We have many opportunities and challenges.”

Crawford, who is returning to elective politics after losing his seat in the General Assembly in the 2012 election, said, “We’ve had trouble getting people to work together. It’s hard to bring in industry if people are squabbling.”

He said he is working with Granville Countys director of economic development, Bill Edwards, to persuade three companies to locate in Granville County.

“I know how to bring people together,” he said. “I hope all of you will come to the table, if I’m elected or not.”

Howard Herring Sr., currently an Oxford city commissioner, emphasized his “positive, productive, effective” leadership experience in the N.C. National Guard, the Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start board and elsewhere.

“I would bring to the office of mayor solutions rather than Band-aids,” he added. “I will use my leadership ability to get votes from the board that are beneficial to the City of Oxford.”

Four seats on the Oxford board of commissioners will be on the ballot. Seven candidates are vying for the positions, including three incumbents. Commissioner Betty Moseley is not seeking re-election.

Ron Bullock, who is seeking re-election, said he would promote an “open and honest form of city government.” He said that while he has chaired the Public Works Committee, the city has added 50 to 60 miles of water and sewer lines, and a new water tower is being planned. In the area of economic development, the city should bring back best practices.

Danny Currin, mayor pro tem of the board of commissioners and a small-business owner, listed accomplishments during his tenure on the board, including re-establishing recycling and extending water and sewer service along Raleigh Street. He chairs the Budget Committee and pointed out that the city’s fund balance was raised from $1.4 million to $1.8 million, and the city has had only one increase in the property tax in the last four years.

C.J. Harris, an incumbent, said, “I have lived on New College Street all of my life, 32 years.”

He said when elected in 2009 he was the youngest elected official in North Carolina. Emphasizing his loyalty to his hometown, he said after he went to college, “I was one of the few who returned home.”

He chairs the Recreation, Parks and Beautification Committee and serves on the Green Challenge Committee and the Property, Buildings and Real Estate Committee.

Eddie McCoy said he previously served as a city commissioner from 1977 to 1985. During that period, the city got a public swimming pool, expanded other athletic facilities and added a school.

“We need to spend more time representing the community,” he said. “We need a decent place to eat and sleep, a hotel or motel,” he added.

Patricia Fields said she is passionate about youth.

“They need somebody to advocate for them,” Fields said.

Saying she was the first woman of color to work at Belk, she added, “There are women in the city of Oxford willing to work for the City of Oxford. Ladies, it’s time to let the city of Oxford know women exist.”

Quon Bridges said he has devoted 33 years of service to the community, including time as an Oxford commissioner, assistant district attorney and district judge. He listed as accomplishments while a commissioner the building of the basketball court next to City Hall, extending sewer service and increasing taxes only once.

“We didn’t all think the same,” he said, “but we worked together for Oxford.”

Candidate Eddie Dalton was not present.

Stovall Mayor Janet Parrott is unopposed, as are incumbent Stovall commissioners Tim Davidson and Marshall Roberts. None spoke at the forum.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.