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Scoring The 1st Danville City Council Forum (Part #1)

SouthsideCentral was at the first Danville City Council candidates forum held Monday night at the Alpha & Omega Missionary Baptist Church on Kemper Road. I was impressed. I was also dumbfounded, shocked and my eyes rolled across the floor more than a few times. Ten out of the eleven candidates showed up, so it’s going to take multiple articles to get through all the eight questions. The scoreboard is ready. Let’s get started.

Like we did two years ago, we’re going to score the arguments in the style of ESPN’s “Around The Horn”. And here’s how it’s going to work…

  • Good answers get two points.
  • Great answers get three points.
  • Worthless answers get the MUTE button and lose a point.
  • It’s my damned scoring system, so I reserve the right to add or subtract points when I feel like it when the contestants deserve it.

Get it? Got it? Good. Let’s light this candle.

Ten out of the eleven candidates were at Monday’s forum (Fred Shanks had a prior commitment). Jessica Griffith was the host, with WDBJ’s Danielle Staub & the Register & Bee’s Robert Benson asking the questions.

We’re sitting on the front row. From Left to Right, we have Fred Shanks (empty seat), Sherman Saunders, Lee Vogler, Robin Dabney, Larry Campbell, Jim Lindley, Philip Haley, Trina McLaughlin, Sheila Baynes, Thomas Motley and Madison Whittle.

We start the night with prayer and a scripture reading. In retrospect, more prayer was probably needed. Jessica Griffith introduces the celebrities moderators people who are going to ask questions and we’re underway. We;ll give Griffith (+2), Staub (+2) & Benson (+2) points for just being here. Whoops, not yet. Jessica Griffith says that it’s time for the National Anthem (what, this isn’t a baseball game. Our first MUTE of the night for that.) Alana Griffith, Jessica’s daughter comes up and nails the National Anthem. Since Alana’s not on our scoreboard, we’ll give (+5) to Jessica. Heh. NOW we’re underway.

Jessica Griffith asks each of the candidates to introduce themselves and reminds them that this is not an opening statement. We’ll go left to right…

  • Sherman Saunders: Lifetime resident. Long-time incumbent. Talks about his work history and council experience. (+3)
  • Lee Vogler: Talks about his family. Says that he lives in Grove Park. Talks about his first term. (+3)
  • Robin Dabney: Talks about her Upward Bound DCC job, administrates federal grant money for it. Rotarian. Has passion for the community. (+3) and a (+1) for her use of the word “passion”.
  • Larry Campbell: Talks about his work history and council service. Says he moved to Alexandria but came home to help the community. (+3)
  • Jim Lindley: Moved to Danville at age 3, military service, has worked with lots of Danville through DCC job. Worked with previous councilmen before at DCC. (+3)
  • Philip Haley: Moved back to Danville 3 years ago. Talks about current United Way job. Talks about his business experience. (+3)
  • Trina McLaughlin: Works at CIT. Been in Danville for 13 years. Husband is a police sergeant. Cheerleading Coach at DCC. chair of River District Festival. (+3) and a (+1) for saying all of that unscripted.
  • Sheila Baynes: 35 years in Danville. Lots of volunteer work in community. (+3)
  • Thomas Motley: First black graduate from VCU (really?). Has spent 40 years fighting for the community. (+2) Turns the rest into an opening statement. There’s a MUTE for that.
  • Madison Whittle: He’s a local businessman and has worked with real estate & small businesses in Danville. (+3) and a (+1) for getting done in less than 20 seconds.

We’ll start with Question #1: Knowing that city council can’t micromanage the city’s operations, what ideas do you have for decreasing crime? We go left to right, starting with Sherman Saunders. Everybody gets one minute for their answers.

  • Sherman Saunders: The police can’t be everywhere. (+3) Talk to your neighbors, get to know them. (+3) The world is watching Danville. (I know what he means, but that’s an overblown statement. MUTE)
  • Lee Vogler: People need to step up and say “enough is enough”. (+2) Mentions Cardinal Village’s Constance Covington’s efforts. (+3)
  • Robin Dabney: Need to determine what is driving the crime rate. (+2) Proceeds to say what those reasons are. (Well, that didn’t take long for that study to come back, eh? MUTE) Points out demographics of criminals. (+2) More funding for recreation centers. Support our young people.
  • Larry Campbell: Homicide rates have gone down in recent years. (+3) Mentions Bibleway’s police/public partnership. (+2) Danville is a better city than what’s portrayed. (+3) and a bonus (+2) for calling that out. Doesn’t believe police crime statistics are quite accurate (What? MUTE for not providing any proof on that claim.)
  • Jim Lindley: Entire career has been working with people to solve issues. All about relationships. (+2) Fix this from the inside. Build relationships between council and churches and civic groups. (Um. No. Council meets for two meetings a month. Build the relationships between the police & the community. MUTE) Google “Danville” and see what comes up. (I did. Good stuff. MUTE). Crime is the #1 issue for everyone that has talked to him about running (+2).
  • Philip Haley: Crime is an issue (WOOOOSQUEALFEEDBACK from the speakers. Let’s start again.) City Council has to give law enforcement what they need to get the job done. The police are not going to solve the problem, the community is going to solve the problem. (+3) Has worked with mentoring services, tutoring services through the United Way. (+3)
  • Trina McLaughlin: Respect for law enforcement is important to her because she wants her husband to come home every night (+3) and a (+2) bonus. We can fight whatever problem is presented (+2). Neighborhood watch support (+2). Town hall meetings in the communities. (+3)
  • Sheila Baynes: Everyone knows the importance of crime as an issue (+2). Work together as a community (+2). See something, say something no matter what it is. (+3) You have an obligation to watch for your neighbor (+3). Discipline in schools is important.
  • Thomas Motley: Distinct correlation between poverty and crime. (+3) 2/3 of criminals are young black males. (I need to factcheck that, but it’s at least Mostly True.) (+3) Start conflict resolution classes (+2 for the idea, but that’s the school board’s call. Motley hasn’t been to a school board meeting to float that idea where it belongs.) 68% of the people that live in Danville are living in poverty. (WHAT? Motley just pulled that statistic out of his butt. It’s nowhere close to being true. MUTE MUTE MUTE because I hate people doing that crap.) 72% of blacks are considered poor. (Another rectally produced fake statistic. MUTE MUTE MUTE again. GAH!) Jessica Griffith calls time and my mute button needs time to cool down.
  • Madison Whittle: Believes in working together. Has rehabilitated housing. Has been proactive and believes that has cut down crime. (+2) A bonus (+1) for being quick again.

Good lord. The question is over and we’re already at 1100 words in this article. Seven questions to go, so it’s going to be a lot of articles in this series. But you’re getting the most detailed recap of everything that was said by this year’s candidates, so it’s worth the time involved.

Let’s have some fun and look at the scoreboard after the introduction and first question…

Don’t put any real value in the scoreboard so early in the game. We’ve got a long way to go, folks.

It takes a long time to write these articles, but we’ll go as fast as we can. And it’s only here on SouthsideCentral.

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