Council members square off in final town debate
Just as the seats in the comparatively vast Cloverdale High School Cafetorium allowed audience members to spread out and sit in clearly defined factions, the town government candidates spread wider in their priorities and views on the issues at Tuesday night's Cloverdale forum, as well.
The debate, sponsored by the League of Women voters, the BannerGraphic and WREB, was the third and final public venue for the Cloverdale candidates to come together before the Nov. 6 election. It was also the only forum to feature both Town Council Ward Two candidates John Davis and Don Sublett. Both men currently sit on the town board and make their disagreement with each other no secret.
Three panelists - one from each of the sponsors of the event - took turns asking questions that each candidate answered.
Ward One candidate and current board member Glen Vickroy and Ward One candidate Daniel Inlow were the only two who did not attend Tuesday's forum.
Davis, who has been on the town council since 2000, but has been frequently overruled in the past two years, painted himself as the minority candidate who has been working to fix problems that the town currently faces.
"If you don't like what you see (on the council), I would expect you would vote for me again," he said.
Sublett, whose remarks and answers to questions were considerably more brief and less detailed than they were in the previous forums, said the town council needs to be unified and responsible to the citizens of Cloverdale.
Davis said his biggest priorities for the town are to begin to remedy the storm drainage issue throughout the town and to lower water and sewer rates.
Sublett said, if elected, he would focus first on eliminating the four pending lawsuits against the town. Davis and council member Judy Whitaker currently have a suit pending that seeks to dissolve the town's agreement with the Cloverdale Township Fire Department.
When asked whether he would consider renewing the town's agreement with the township fire department, Davis said he is willing to look at it.
He went on to explain his push in 2005 to start a town fire department, saying that the township charged $71,000 per year for Cloverdale's use of the fire department and was unwilling to negotiate or open its books to inspection.
Sublett's answer was a much less conditional, "yes."
Many of the candidates, all of whom gave ringing support for the township fire department at the first forum, backed away from that stance a bit, calling for negotiation and accountability when it comes to what the township charges the town for fire protection.
Only Sublett and At-Large candidates Tom Tomlinson, Joseph Zimmerman and Phyllis Gaddis voiced unconditional support to the township fire department's service of the town.
The audience, for its part, sat at partisan tables, largely segregated by support for the Davis faction versus the Sublett faction .
Some of the few people who came out to the forum without having their minds already made up were Letchard and Carol Maners, who said they have lived in Cloverdale for 10 years.
The couple said neither of them had been to many town council meetings and they turned out to learn about the people running for office. After the debate, Carol Maners said she would have to think about her decision a little more, but the forum gave her a chance to learn about each candidate.
She also said she planned to do some research on two of the issues that were mentioned in the debates - the lawsuits against the town and water and sewer rates.
Letchard Maners, on the other hand, said he had already picked out two candidates he liked.