As residents of Elkins prepare to head to the polls March 5 to vote for Elkins mayor and City Council members, they should be sure to be armed with knowledge to make an informed decision. The Inter-Mountain will sponsor an event to help enlighten residents and help them choose the best candidate to represent their needs.
A candidate forum is slated for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Elkins High School Auditorium. Candidates from each contested race in the Elkins City Election will have five minutes to speak, followed by a question-and-answer period. Questions for the candidates may be submitted to The Inter-Mountain prior to the forum by using a form published in today's edition on Page A5.
The public is invited to attend the forum to meet the candidates and learn of their experience, goals and platforms.
"This forum will provide residents the perfect opportunity to learn more about each candidate and to question them on the issues they feel most impact our community," said Matthew Burdette, executive editor of The Inter-Mountain. "An educated electorate is the key to the success of a strong democracy, and this event will provide Elkins residents the tools to make an informed decision at the polls."
Burdette will serve as the forum's moderator.
Three candidates are seeking the mayoral seat - Van T. Broughton, Duke Talbott and Mark D. Scott.
Broughton has served Elkins as councilman for three terms in 5th Ward and one term in 2nd Ward.
Broughton retired from the Kroger Co. following 21 years, and was the owner of Van's Army Navy Surplus Store.
"As mayor, I would bring our City Council together with community groups and other government leaders to develop a forward thinking collective vision for the city," Broughton said. "I want to assure that the investment that the citizens have been making in our water and sewer infrastructure would lead to business growth and expansion.
"I want to bring the council and the community together to help develop programs to keep our children active, healthy and safe. I want to involve our senior citizens by using their knowledge and experience to advance our city and also to improve the quality of life for all our residents."
Talbott has served as Elkins mayor for two terms. He is seeking another two-year term, and said he has many goals.
"What I would like to help accomplish over the next two years includes recruiting and training police officers to bring our city police department up to full staff, so they can better deal with the substance abuse problem in our town," Talbott said.
Other goals include constructing a new water plant, installing brick crosswalks at downtown intersections for safety, establishing a credit card processing system for paying utility bills, fines and fire fees, moving ON TRAC forward to attaining status as a full Main Street program, and planning and implementing a citywide recycling program.
Scott has served one term as 3rd Ward councilman in Elkins, and he hopes to be elected mayor.
Scott owns Mark D. Scott and Associates All State Insurance in Elkins.
He said while serving as a city councilman, he many times has been the only dissenting vote.
"I don't vote for anything that I do not believe is in the best interest of the citizens of Elkins," Scott said.
Scott said his main goals are spending taxpayers' money the same way he spends his own money - very carefully.
"I am transparent - there are no backroom deals with me," he said. "I have an open-door policy, where you can talk to me and I will listen."
Scott also said he wants to create a business recruitment unit in the mayor's office.
"I have a plan to renovate or remove condemned homes within the city, and I look to implement a comprehensive approach that brings everyone to the table to tackle the drug problem."
Charles G. Kinnison and Lonnie E. Randall both are seeking an Elkins City Council spot in 1st Ward in Elkins.
Incumbent Kinnison is vying for the 1st Ward seat. Kinnison works for APS Health Care as an exercise physiologist. He was appointed by council in November 2011 to fill a vacant seat because of the resignation of Rob Beckwith.
"I want to work to assure the city of Elkins continues to move forward," Kinnison said. "I have worked with a strong council, and we want to continue looking to the future and continue fulfilling the needs of the community."
Randall is a school bus driver for the Randolph County Board of Education and Davis & Elkins College. He is also a member of the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department.
"Being a councilman is not about me, but about me going to work for the residents of 1st Ward and the city," Randall said. "One thing I hope to do is attract new businesses to create new jobs and bring more revenue to Elkins."
Randall said he hopes to work to remove unsightly trash from the city, including old cars, televisions and brush.
"We need to continue to find funding sources and grants to complete work at the water treatment plant," Randall said. "Another place I want to concentrate my efforts is helping eradicate the drug problem. This is a very big issue for such a small town, and it's out of control.
"When new people come into a group, they bring new ideas with them. We need to advance our city. Elkins deserves a change."
Both Nanci Bross-Fregonara and Hollis C. Vance hope to win the election for 4th Ward seat.
Bross-Fregonara has served one term as city councilwoman for 4th Ward. She is a writer and graphic designer at Davis & Elkins College.
Bross-Fregonara said Elkins City Council just reinstated the municipal planning commission. The commission had been defunct for five years.
"I am looking forward to the creation of a comprehensive plan for the city of Elkins," she said. "This would ensure that quality of life would continue for residents. We have a great council right now with representation from all areas of the city."
Bross-Fregonara said she is looking forward to the possible increase in recreation facilities in the area.
"I think we need to add areas for our young people as well as sites to attract more visitors," Bross-Fregonara said. "I believe we need an indoor soccer facility or an ice skating rink."
She said other items she looks forward to working on include the development of the City Hall parking lot, working closely with Randolph County Commission and RCDA to look at mutually beneficial developments to help the city and county, and to strengthen the code enforcement officer's and the city's ability to successfully deal with abandoned, run-down buildings.
"It is unfortunate we have many properties throughout town where the owners are not taking the responsibility to keep their homes safe and in good shape," Bross-Fregonara said.
Vance has served three terms prior as an Elkins city councilman in the 4th Ward. He said he believes in a responsible government accountable to its citizens.
"One thing I want to do is encourage all residents to get out and cast their votes," Vance said.
He said that one goal of his is to have a balanced budget.
"I feel when this is in place, everything else will fall together," Vance said. "I believe we should live within our means."
Vance said he hopes to improve city streets and the water system.
"I do not think we can spend more than we take in," Vance said. "And with the economy the way it is, people in our area cannot afford an increase in taxes."
Candidates in noncontested races for the city of Elkins municipal General Election are Mitch L. Marstiller, 2nd Ward; Carman L. Metheny, 3rd Ward; James S. Bibey, 5th Ward; and Joe Sabitino, 5th Ward, two-year unexpired term.
"The Inter-Mountain is thrilled to be able to organize and sponsor this forum," Burdette said. "I am excited that all the candidates in contested races have accapeted our invitation to this event. I am looking forward to an enlightening and spirited debate Tuesday night."