All News & Blogs
Mayoral candidates show their differences in third public forum
Matt Paxson makes his opening remarks as Mary Katherine Greenlaw and Fred Howe III listen during a mayoral candidates debate at James Monroe High School on Wednesday night.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 4/19/2012
The three candidates running to be Fredericksburg's next mayor put their differences on display Wednesday at a candidates debate at James Monroe High School.
Vice Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, City Councilman Fred Howe and political newcomer Matt Paxson offered differing views about the city's financial status, the decision to build a new courthouse and the type of leadership Fredericksburg needs.
Paxson, associate pastor of Fairview Baptist Church, making his first foray into politics, criticized his opponents' track records on the council and promised to "take Fredericksburg to the next level."
"The results of their leadership and experience is the very reason we need a change," he said.
Throughout the debate, both Howe and Greenlaw took opportunities to cite Paxson's inexperience and tout their own accomplishments.
Howe, who owns a utility service business, has served on the council for two years. Greenlaw, a real-estate broker, has been on the council for four years and was on the Planning Commission for eight years before that.
"I've had the good fortune to work within government for 12 years, and much of the progress the city has seen in those years I've had a part in," Greenlaw said.
"I'm the only candidate with more than three decades of leadership and business experience," Howe said.
The candidates fielded questions from panelists and the audience.
They were asked if it would be too late to reverse the decision to build a new multimillion-dollar courthouse. Howe and Greenlaw were on opposite sides.
Greenlaw said that while the council could turn around and take another look, it would likely wind up with almost the same conclusion and the possibility that the construction would cost more.
Howe emphasized what he called a 10 percent tax increase that residents will face because of the debt the city will incur from the project. He said the city needs to find a way to increase other revenues to prevent that.
Paxson said that if he were mayor, the council would reconsider the decision and look at other locations.
They did agree on some issues.
All said the council needs to improve communications with city staff and the community.