Shenandoah, April 6 – Candidates for the Shenandoah City Council Election, set for May 6, 2017, faced off in a spirited candidates’ forum this evening, which Bob Bagley of the Montgomery County Tea Party moderated.
For Position 2, incumbents Jason Camara and Ted Fletcher attended. The incumbent failed to appear.
For Position 3, Byron Bevers attended. His opponent failed to appear.
For Position 4, Charlie Bradt attended. His opponent failed to appear.
The bottom line of the forum was that all four candidates object to the lack of investment in the Shenandoah Police Department, the breadth of the City Manager’s authority, and the alleged “fiscal irresponsibility” pervading the Shenandoah City government according to all four of the candidates who participated in the forum.
All of the candidates expressed their “love” for Shenandoah. Camara and Fletcher both called for better fiscal responsibility and better city management in their two minute opening statements.
Openness and transparency seemed to be a major issue for all of the candidates who participated. Bevers told the crowd that he has a “residents first mindset.” Camara agreed. Fletcher complained that the lack of oversight over the administrative departments of the City is a major problem. Bradt agreed with Fletcher and called for “more questioning” on issues before the City Council.
Bradt said he believes the building process is too “onerous to the residents. I’ve talked to several residents and they’ve had to spend several thousand dollars to replace a water tank when it should have cost a few hundred dollars.” Bradt criticized the City’s building inspection process for the extra costs. Bevers complained, “Many times as regulating body they, the government uses a chainsaw when a scalpel is appropriate. Another example of an onerous regulation is that the city council made a regulation that you can’t put a balloon on a for sale sign if you’re selling a house.”
All four candidates – Fletcher, Bradt, Bevers, and Camara – seemed to agree that the Shenandoah City Administrator has too much power and that he’s doing a poor job controlling the high level of employee attrition. All four candidates argued that, as conservatives, they do not believe the City should take any action to curtail rental properties inside the City limits. “We’re given God-given rights and the constitution shouldn’t be limited because we happen to live in a city. Curtailing Rentals in our City would mean that we’re curtailing rights, and that’s not something our City represents at all,” Fletcher told the spectators.
Camara led the verbal charge on what all candidates claimed was inadequate police patrolling in Shenandoah. “This is one of my biggest things. The financial side is going to come, we don’t need to push to bring people in. There used to be a time when our city was known for its traffic security, but that’s gone. Because we don’t have that reputation anymore … We have people coming in that are transients …we need to have a better control of our city in that manner who do not do crimes and do bad things.” The other three candidates agreed with the call for more community policing.
The most interest question that elicited specific answers was whether each candidate believes the City is engaging in wasteful spending and, if so, how would each candidate cut the budget.
– Bradt: “The entrance signs, I thought the entrance signs the the trees and the flowers were just fine, but they spent $600,000 to redo them. The childrens’ park…its a nice park, but there’s no restroom, no parking
– Bevers: “We’ve had some misuse on the ways we’re spending money. The extension of David Memorial Drive is a waste, I think the developer should pay for that. The special events center we’re proposing is just wrong. I hope they use cash for the water plant and not take debt. If elected I assure you I won’t be voting for that debt.
– Camara: “It does seem like there’s a lot of what can we buy now what can we spend now because we can. When we do things like the toddler park …its big the safety, there’s no fence why do we do things half way? I like sidewalks, but I don’t like them this far (hand length) from the feeder? There’s a lot of things in the financial aspect of the city that needs to be looked at.”
– Fletcher: “I think the biggest things are Capitol improvement projects. We have a municipal development district. Why do we have any capital improvement projects in our general fund? We could utilize to pay debt down…fund our police department.”