As voters prepare to head to the ballot box, some candidates offered their perspective on challenges and improvements for the city of Montgomery.
During a forum hosted last week by the Voter Awareness Council in partnership with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, six candidates running in the general and special election had a chance to respond to questions from the public during the forum moderated by Community Impact Newspaper.
Mark Ferraz was the first candidate to be asked to address the city’s biggest challenges. Ferraz moved to Montgomery about two years ago and is running against longtime Montgomery resident Carol Langley for Place 1 on the Council.
He thinks the presentation of the historic district and comprehensive plan is important, but felt maintaining and enforcing variances, at least regarding parcels within a district, are equally as important
“A lot of these developers buy these properties, then they come and ask for all kinds of changes. You really want to try to discourage that. Also, I want to make sure that our ordinances and our codes are business-friendly,” Ferraz said at the Lone Star Community Center in Montgomery last Tuesday.
“I want to make sure the will of the voters is expressed at every single meeting,” he continued. “We want to make sure we have our ear to the ground to know what’s going on and that every single time there is a vote we ask what is it that the voters are looking for, and we try to remove any sense of favoritism or any sense of who you know matters more than what you are doing and whether that is of importance to what the voters are trying to accomplish and their agenda.”
The unexpired Place 1 seat is currently held by Kevin Lacy, who is a candidate for place 2, and was temporarily appointed by the council following the resignation of longtime city councilman Jon Bickford earlier this year.
Lacy was invited to participate in the forum but fell ill and answer questions in real time over Facebook instead. The place 2 seat was previously held by longtime councilman John Champagne, Jr. who filed for the position earlier in the year and then later resigned leaving Lacy unopposed.
While no other candidates volunteered to respond to the question, the next question asked his opponent, Langley, what improvements she would like to see made to the downtown area in Montgomery.
“Number one, improving the street,” Langley said. “McCown street needs to be repaired. I know in the past we have tried and tried to repair it. The drainage is a problem for that street and of course, with the property coming up to the street, it makes it hard to be able to be able to fix the street to the best of its ability. But that is the number one thing in the downtown district.”
Bill Clevenger, who is challenging the city’s current Mayor Sara Countryman agreed with Langley that McCown Street needed to be repaired, but wanted to take it by prerogative through a scoring system for streets, drainage, trees, electric, etc.
“Identify these things, score them out, then one place, then if it is done right the numbers won’t lie,” Clevenger said. “How do we know that one street outweighs the other. Put the numbers down and I guarantee you will find that other parts of the city needs as much attention as the downtown area.”
No other candidates volunteered to respond before the forum moved on to the next question. Early voting is Oct. 13-30. Election Day is Nov. 3.