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Candidates for mayor of Fredericksburg agree on issues, disagree on dealing with them
Date published: 4/15/2012
The three candidates who want to become mayor of Fredericksburg generally agree over what the issues are, but have different ideas on how to deal with them and run the city.
In their campaign statements, mailings and in public forums for the May 1 elections, council members Fred Howe III and Mary Katherine Greenlaw and political newcomer Matt Paxson have talked mostly about several issues: development of Riverfront Park, economic development, the cost of a new city courthouse and how the city communicates with residents.
The park along the Rappahannock River has been planned for decades. The city has been acquiring waterfront land along Sophia Street, including the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge 61 for $925,000.
A review of the current and long-range plans for the park are supposed to take place this year, and $200,000 has been put in the 2013 budget for the park and $2 million is planned for construction in 2017.
Howe has said he thinks the city needs to take additional steps first--such as dredging the river, among other things--before moving forward with plans to design the park.
Greenlaw has said she wants to see the project move forward.
Paxson has criticized the city for not taking enough action on the park. He said that he wants to make reclaiming the riverfront a priority and that he would build consensus, issue a request-for-proposal to develop and would pay for it through tax increment financing, or TIF. With that method, the city would issue revenue bonds to be repaid with future city income that is created through development.
The courthouse has long been an issue for Howe, who has sent out mailers alleging that the city will spend millions more than it has publicly discussed. The city council has approved a $32 million contract for the courthouse.
Howe said that he wants to "stop, redesign, scale it down, take care of the Renwick [the current circuit courthouse] and take care of those other court systems that need to be updated for the security portion of it only."
He's one of the three council members who continuously vote against the project.
Greenlaw is in full support of the new courthouse plan.
"It's not a matter of whether to build the courthouse or not, it's when," she said.
CANDIDATE FORUM SET FOR WEDNESDAY
There will be a candidates forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday
The forum is cosponsored by the College Heights Civic Association, College Terrace Civic Association, College Hill Civic Association and the Maury Neighborhood Association.
Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the center, will serve as moderator.
Candidates seeking the seat held by retiring Mayor Tom Tomzak include current council members Mary Katherine Greenlaw and Fred Howe, as well as newcomer Matt Paxson.
At-large council candidates are incumbent Councilwoman Kerry Devine, Planning Commissioner Roy McAfee, former City Councilman Matt Kelly and newcomer Paul Quinn.