By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Candidates for mayor, chief of police and alderman met Thursday night to outline their qualifications and hopes for the offices they are pursuing.
The forum at the Cine Theatre was hosted by the Union County Democratic Executive Committee, Union County Federated Women’s Executive Committee and the New Albany Municipal Democratic Election Committee.
Event chairman Henry Knox said the forum was organized “to encourage everyone to be part of our participatory government.”
Charlie Mitchell, associate dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, moderated the nearly two-hour forum.
“This is how America should work,” he said. Of the citizens gathered for the discussion, he added, “They’re willing to work together. It’s their problems to solve, and they’re in the best positions to solve them together.”
Among issues that aldermen candidates discussed were infrastructure improvements, communication between city officials and citizens, drainage problems, neighborhood parks, tourism and other economic development.
Chief of Police candidates Mark Golding and Chris Robertson have worked together for years under retiring Chief David Grisham. Each touted his own experience and personality, with little disagreement in views, including support for having armed officers in schools.
“It’ll be my job to protect the citizens of New Albany and to treat them fairly and equally,” Chris Robertson said.
Golding, who is also Union County Medical Examiner, said, “I’ve been in some of your homes at some of the most difficult times of your lives. I can be compassionate when I need to be; I can be firm when I need to be.”
Tim Kent, a two-term incumbent, noted his participation in the PUL Alliance’s success in bringing Toyota and supporting industries to Union County and some $11 million in grants that the city has had during his tenure with help from Three Rivers Planning and Development District.
“If you think New Albany’s better than it was eight years ago, I’d ask you to vote for me,” he said.
Challenger Bill Robertson highlighted business experience from GM executive and financial planner to downtown retailer. He urged that New Albany set its vision higher than its current efforts.
“When I lived in Texas, there was a saying,” he said. “‘You can’t hit the ceiling shooting at the floor.’”