Photo by M. Lisa Monroe
Back row: Robin Hill, Robert Moore, Bob Burke, Mike Ross, Don Haehl, Billy Tormey. Front row: Kate Russell, Kelly Hunkins, Nanci Russell.
By M. LISA MONROE
Town of Webb voters had a chance to hear from the candidates in the upcoming election on Oct. 4.
The forum, hosted by CAP-21, was held at View. Both candidates for Town of Webb Supervisor, incumbent Robert Moore and Bob Burke; all of the candidates for the two town board seats, incumbents Mike Ross and Kate Russell and challengers Don Haehl and Billy Tormey, were in attendance. Unchallenged Town of Webb Clerk Nanci Russell and Tax Collector Kelly Hunkins were also on the panel.
The candidates were given a chance to introduce themselves and then took questions that had been submitted by the audience.
There were questions about health care, the economy, increasing tourism in the Town of Webb and police consolidation.
The group had the opportunity to answer the questions, and while most candidates could point out the problems and challenges facing the town, solutions were in short supply.
One of the voters asked how many town board meetings the candidates had attended prior to their run for office. None of the candidates who are running for office have regularly attended board meetings. Don Haehl has attended two, the rest of the candidates haven’t attended any.
There were a few issues that all of the candidates agreed on, the need to attract young families to the area, the lack of reliable broadband Internet service, affordable housing concerns, making sure that the town is well publicized, and finding ways to increase volunteerism for the fire department and ambulance.
The challenging candidates were asked what experience they have that would help them to prepare a multi-million dollar budget like the Town of Webb’s.
Bob Burke pointed to his years of experience working with $7-$8 million brokerage accounts.
“I think I’m very well qualified in that regard,” said Burke.
Haehl also pointed to his business experience saying that his family business had an operating budget of 2.6 million dollars each year and that he is chief operating officer of a contracting firm which does about 2.5 million dollars a year.
“I am familiar with big numbers, all it is is moving the decimal,” said Haehl.
Tormey didn’t answer the question.
During their closing statements candidates got the chance to explain why they wanted to run for town board.
Tormey began, saying, “Our town needs help, we need to go straight ahead, not look back and make changes in a positive direction and the only way to do that is to start with the front.”
Haehl said that the campaign had a negative effect on his family, but that it had made them stronger.
“I would like to think that as a community we are strong. I really think that we have something that nobody else does. We have great assets. I would like to try to put ourselves in position where we get the most use out of those assets,” he said.
Russell said that she felt rewarded by her time on town board and that she was gratified by all of the projects that she’d been involved with during her time on the board.
“I feel very lucky and blessed to be a part of this community and to come to work with the people I’ve come to work with. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices but it’s been worth it. I thank you for those eight years and I look forward to four more” said Russell.
Mike Ross expressed his desire to continue as a town board member, saying that he loved working for the community.
“Serving this community is an honor,” said Ross.
Moore said that he welcomes the elections because it gets people talking about the issues that face the Town of Webb. He said that the job takes people who are willing to put in time and answer questions in the grocery store and work hard.
“It takes dedication, it takes experience and it takes know how. It’s not to be entered into lightly. Isn’t it great that we can communicate and that we’re communicating now. It’s not about me, it’s about us. I’d appreciate your support,” said Moore.
Bob Burke said that in 30 years he’d like to see people he recognized on the town board as opposed to outsiders that don’t understand the community.
“The issues we’re talking about tonight, with the housing issue and the shrinking school population issue, I have given a lot of thought and I would give 100 percent [to those issues]. I believe I can bring about positive change and focus on what is in front of us and who we are and what we want,” said Burke.
The election is on Nov. 7.