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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
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Date published: 4/19/2012
In response to a question about transparent government, all three said that they would be willing to accommodate residents who asked to be copied on emails between council members relating to public business.
On the topic of the new public-nuisance law, the candidates agreed that the city has made good progress combating the problems with loud parties and issues with renters.
And all three said that they wanted to see the City Council make performing arts a priority in the city.
But there was a sharp divide in the way the three candidates view the city's financial situation.
Greenlaw repeated her stance that the city is in a "very sound financial position." She said the city's revenues are up due to increased meals and lodging tax collections.
Howe said he is worried that the city is compiling too much debt. He said the city needs to figure out its priorities and it needs to ask residents what they want to see tax dollars spent on.
Paxson said that as a whole, the city is not doing well. He said Fredericksburg is lagging behind Stafford and Spotsylvania counties and needs to increase incentives to attract business.
After Paxson said the city needed to work with other localities in the region, Greenlaw and Howe both pointed out that the city is already involved in several regional organizations such as the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and the George Washington Regional Commission.
Paxson said city residents have not benefited from those relationships.
In their closing statements, the three candidates stuck to the campaign messages they have touted in previous forums.
Howe emphasized his leadership and business experience. He said he wants to lower taxes and create an environment that will attract businesses and people to the city.
Greenlaw said she is the candidate who has built strong working relationships with other council members and various organizations, and will use that to find solutions to the issues facing Fredericksburg.
Paxson said his inexperience is an asset because it is time for new leadership in the city.
The debate was sponsored by Fredericksburg.com, the College Heights Civic Association, the College Terrace Civic Association, the College Hill Civic Association, the Maury Neighborhood Association and the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.
The election is May 1.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413