For those following along last night Slabbed put out two pictures but little else live as I was on the media panel that asked the questions.
— Slabbed New Media (@SlabbedNewMedia) April 21, 2017
After the forum an audience member asked where the panel got its questions which I thought was odd, my instant answer pointing to my brain was “from here”. Turned out he was upset because he thought we were picking on a candidate he supports. The operative term here is more colloquially known as a “closed mind”.
Wes Muller from the Sun Herald and Brad Kessie from WLOX rounded out the panel and we didn’t toss out any softies to either the Mayoral or the council candidates for office. Speaking for myself I asked questions that would help the candidates differentiate themselves, from the allocation of scarce tax dollars in the city budget to whether or not tax increases were on the table to deal with the current revenue challenged times derived mainly from declining gaming revenue. There was no such thing as a wrong answer to these questions and overall the candidates for office did a good job responding to the questions, including Hizzoner.
The panel also asked questions designed to find out if the Candidates knew what they were getting into in terms of the office they were seeking. Those questions also got very good responses and the candidates again differentiated themselves. Without going into the he said, she said specifics I’ll add WQRZ was there last night to record the event and it will be streamed on Saturday. I highly encourage those of you that did not attend last night to listen in Saturday.
Several people in attendance commented to me on what was evidently a pretty sharp contrast between the Republican-Democrat-NAACP Forum the night before which was promoted by a new, proxy registered, anonymous website BSL Beyond Politics and last night’s event, which focused heavily on financial questions. Wes Muller was at both and his story on the Republican-Democrat-NAACP Forum tells the tale:
The Hancock Democratic and Republican committees held a joint political forum Wednesday for the candidates in the upcoming municipal elections, but questions on the city’s most-pressing issues were few and far between.
Let’s put on our thinking caps and wonder who would want to steer the political conversation into things like building swimming pools:
Nearly half the crowd left after the first round.
“This is a joke,” said one woman in attendance.
The second round of questions dealt with golf carts and swimming pools. Notably absent were questions on financial matters, which have been Bay St. Louis’ biggest problems for the last year.
I’d invite the local readers to also ponder who could have mobilized both the local GOP and Democrat Executive Committees to team up with the NAACP for an election forum that had nothing but softball questions. That universe of possibilities is very small.
Lest I digress further, on the City Council side two of the four Ward 4 candidates attended in Kyle Lewis and Tad Black and there could not have been a better contrast. Lewis is a young family man with a very easy smile that will translate well in the political world. Black is a seasoned candidate with previous council experience and he too was very well spoken and knowledgeable. These two gentlemen may well be facing each other in the general election in early June.
The forum had three incumbent councilmen participate in Doug Seal (Ward 1), Jeff Reed (Ward 3) and Lonnie Falgout (Ward 6). The three candidates in Ward 2 did not attend nor did either Ward 5 Candidate. Rev. Reed’s challenger Kevin Avery and Ward 4 candidates Larry Smith and Gisele Marie Bradley all had better things going last night and did not attend. Challengers George Williams (Ward 1) and Josh Disalvo (Ward 6) attended as did every candidate for the open Council at Large seat with Gary Knoblock, Susie Veglia, Mike Weems and T.J. Collier in attendance.
On the Mayoral side we had all three candidates from the Democrat primary show up in Mayor Fillingame and his challengers Rachael Ramsey and current councilman at large Mike Favre. The questions I asked included topics such as improving the Bay Waveland School District via the power of making School Board appointments and whether or not the Candidates favored raising taxes to close the revenue gap. I wanted to hear the Candidates compliment each other so I asked the challengers to list one thing Mayor Fillingame did right and one thing they disagreed with. Mayor Fillingame was afforded the same chance to critique the City Council. Like I said, there was not a softball question asked last night by the panel and overall I thought the Candidates that participated did well.
Now we enter the stretch run with the party primaries now just over a week away. As always questions, comments, observations and even partisanship is welcome in comments.