By Katy Calloway, The Island Eye News Editor
The League of Women Voters along with The Island Eye News hosted the eleven candidates for IOP City Council in a question and answer forum last Thursday evening, Oct. 20 at the IOP Rec Center. Over 200 residents showed up to see and hear the candidates answer questions posed by moderator Julie Hussey from the LWV. The event was also streamed live via The Island Eye News Facebook page, which has already garnered over 30 live views and over 1100 within the following 24 hours.
The forum was remarkable for several reasons. This election year has a record number of candidates vying for just four seats on City Council. In previous elections incumbents often ran unopposed, or among a limited field, due to the City’s stringent filing requirements. This year, with only a $100 fee to file to run for city office, the election has attracted an unprecedented number of candidates who hope to bring change to the City’s policies.
Many in Thursday’s audience had one or two candidates in mind, but few had decided all four of their votes. Local resident and author Mary Alice Monroe was one of the undecided when the forum started, but felt her decision was made by the event’s end. “As an author, I understand how to portray emotion,” she explained, “and portraying emotion without the facts was obvious. I’m looking for candidates with the experience or background to effect change.”
“There are some big issues at stake,” remarked another resident, who preferred to have his name withheld. “I’m undecided. Arguments against the Marina were strong. It may be better to use that money for other special projects while maintaining the Marina with less of a capital expense.”
With limited time and a large pool of candidates, only four questions were posed addressing the Marina referendum, beach erosion, parking, and drainage. Candidates were then allowed a two-minute closing statement, too long for IOP resident Carolyn (who asked we not use her last name). “They didn’t need two minutes,” stated Carolyn. “I know who I’ll vote for based on what I heard tonight. I liked that some of them delved into issues and knew what they were talking about. Not all of the answers were glib.”
Carolyn’s friend Diane, who also wished to remain anonymous, was undecided on three of the seats before the event. “I’m still thinking it over. I’ll probably go home and talk it over with my husband.”
Her husband was also undecided after the forum, but remarked on the evening’s event, “It’s a shame people haven’t gotten involved before the election. They only care about issues every four years, and there are some really volatile issues.”