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Some thoughts about the DPC Chamber’s candidate forum…

Tuesday morning, the Danville-Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce sponsored a breakfast meeting at the Stratford Courtyard Conference Center. The five candidates for Danville City Council had a chance to address the business community. Let’s take a look at what happened in yet another “random thoughts” format article. 😉

  • I get to the conference center around 7:15 AM, and Chamber President Laurie Moran is there with a giant smile on. Yep, happy and smiling at 7:15 AM. She’s good, people. 🙂
  • The conference room (and the whole building) is beautiful. You can see that the management and workers really care about the place and do their jobs well.
  • Even though I’m thre on business, the food and coffee is very good. (Hey, gotta talk about food…)
  • Chamber members (and guests) start coming in by 7:25 PM. Looks like it will be a good turnout, and it is. I’d say around 60-70 people in attendance.
  • All of the candidates are present. You’ve got incumbents Adam Tomer & Gary Miller and challengers Alonzo Jones, John Gilstrap & Thomas Motley here.
  • Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders is here along with Councilmen Larry Campbell, Fred Shanks and Buddy Rawley. Former Danville mayors John Hamlin & Linwood Wright are also at the forum.
  • Now let’s get to the rules…each candidate gets an opening statement, three questions to them, and then a closing statement. Linda Dalton is the head of the Chamber’s Legislative committee and will be hosting.
  • Opening statements by all five candidates are relatively standard. Gary Miller stands out from the rest of the candidates by his mannerisms and talk. I have to wonder about Thomas Motley’s purple suit that he’s wearing because this is a standard shirt & tie business crowd. He looked out of place among the rest of the candidates with his choice of dress. That means nothing to the issues or his qualifications, it just looked um… strange.
  • First question to the candidates is about issues other than jobs & education. Gary Miller bluntly says “Crime isn’t a black or white issue” and wins. Adam Tomer & John Gilstrap talk about the image of Danville & the “quality of life” and score points. Alonzo Jones talks about ways to cut costs. Thomas Motley sticks with his main campaign focus of high Danville Utilities bills (sigh).
  • Second question is about how Danville can keep its competitive edge in economic development. All five candidates talk about workforce training in their replies. Gary Miller stands out (again) by telling the audience that Danville has lost potential businesses due to lack of workforce training. Adam Tomer also wins this question by calling out blighted areas like South & West Main Streets. Alonzo Jones had a good answer by having today’s only mention of the proposed Megapark.
  • Final question is about the effects of impending budget cuts. The candidates are asked about what priorities should there be and how should they be funded. Adam Tomer is the only one to declare “No tax increase.” Tomer & Miller agree on properly funding public safety departments. Miller also has (another) excellent answer saying that “If the School board can trim expenses, so can Council” & wondering why there are more than one firetruck/ambulance dispatched to minor 911 calls. John Gilstrap  is the only candidate to mention economic development as a priority. Alonzo Jones repeats education is his top priority, and Motley says that he has seen waste in the 2009 budget when he reviewed it (?).
  • Closing statements from the candidates are routine with each candidate asking for votes, and we’re done.

So who went up or down? Let’s take a look…

  • Gary Miller – Miller had very impressive and strong answers and he showed a passion about wanting to win. Miller comes out of this forum UP.
  • Adam Tomer – Tomer started off slow but came alive once the questions came. He also showed a desire to get votes. Tomer comes out of this forum UP.
  • John Gilstrap – Gilstrap has the look and feel of a strong candidate, but I just can’t put my finger on why he isn’t as strong as Miller & Tomer. Gilstrap comes out of this forum EVEN.
  • Alonzo Jones – Jones has the personality and character to make a good councilman and really cares about the community. Jones comes out of this forum SLIGHTLY UP.
  • Thomas Motley – Motley has to realize that Danville Utilities is not the only issue in this race. I can tell he really cares about that issue but he’s not showing very little else to earn my vote. When he does branch out into other things, he’s all over the place. I really want to like him as he seems like a decent guy. Unfortunatelf for now, Motley comes out of this forum DOWN.

21 days until Election Day. More to come…

2 comments to Some thoughts about the DPC Chamber’s candidate forum…

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  • Watchman

    My view..

    Gilstrap-UP The only candidate who has experience is many phases of the community. He knows what the public wants and he knows how to get it done. He is the only candidate with no “agenda”. He seriously wants Danville to succeed.

    Tomer-UP Say what you want about him but he is the ONLY city councilman who unlocked the Coleman Marketplace fiasco. No other councilman wanted to touch it. He also has been critical of the way the city has done some things. I like his open attitude, something that Danville needs.

    Miller-DOWN He just doesn’t get it. He continually defends Lifepoint and the disaster they have made of the hospital. Completely out of touch with a majority of Danville people. Less not more aristocrats needed on council. He needs to get out into the community more and listen tyo people.

    Jones-DOWN Clueless as to what to do. Looking for the prestige of the position and not the position itself. Remained silent on school board when detrimental decisions were made. Has called for no accountability from the school administration. Continues to support the outlandish budget bloopers of the school district. Not the person council needs.

    Motley-DOWN What can I say? Out of his league, out of touch, and a single issue candidate.

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