Quarterly Meeting – April 24, 2018 – 7:00pm
South Roanoke United Methodist Church – Candidates’ Forum
Former Mayor David Bowers moderated the forum for the candidates for city council in the upcoming election on May 1st. In addition to the 76 residents attending – the candidates present were:
Councilman Bill Bespitch
Councilman Ray Ferris
They were asked the following 5 questions.
1)How would you prioritize best practices for balancing the Roanoke City budget?
BB: Education gets 28%, Safety gets 24% and the rest is divided up among the other line items. To learn more, visit – https://www.roanokeva.gov/1837/Budget-Development
JC: It would be important to stay focused on who is being impacted by cuts, and is it equal for all. Set goals and priorities.
RF: Visit the site mentioned above to learn what is being funded. We set priorities and rank them as what is most important to our residents.
SH: I would list safety as the number one priority, as there has been an increase in crime throughout the city.
RJ: Education and safety should always be first, and then we need to look into reducing the opioid epidemic and gun violence facing our city.
DO: We need to know what is important to our community and keep those things in mind when balancing the budget.
GP: We need to figure out our priorities. The murder rate is high, the students are testing at below reading level, and the neighborhoods – not just downtown – need investing in .
2) Virginia is a Dillon Rule State (any authority must be granted to the city from the General Assembly) What authority would you ask to be given to Roanoke?
GP: Ban guns in city buildings and in events
DO: Ban loaded assault weapons in public
RJ: Ban assault weapons in public
SH: Money confiscated from drug arrests should not go to the police department but instead back into the communities to help our youth
RF: The city should be able to control all assets with their own bans: no smoking/no guns
JC: The city should be able to add additional operating hours for the buses and add a nondiscrimination clause that keeps sexuality out of job hiring.
BB: The city should be able to be tougher with delinquent tax collection.
3) How do you define a livable Roanoke?
SH: I define it as everyone being treated equally.
RF: It is walkable areas that are safe with clean air/water and with good jobs and a responsible government.
RJ: It is a safe place for us to raise children with economic opportunities and all and with proactive neighbors.
JC: It is a healthy place for all to thrive with incentives to bring businesses here and workforce development. It is a place without drug and gun problems.
DO: It is a place with walkability, greenways, a shelter for all without poverty and violence
BB: It is a place for neighbors to gather and work together and prosperity for all.
GP: It is a non-segregated one – all are treated the same.
4) What suggestions should be considered for the Fire Station #8 should be considered?
All candidates stated that the building should be left standing and up to the neighborhood to decide it’s new purpose.
5) How do you define “neighborhood?”
DO: It’s proximity to the defining features of an area (example – Tinnell’s, Crystal Spring Elementary, shops) that joins people together.
JC: It is diverse hospitality hubs that bring people together not divide them.
BB: It is when a person looks at himself and asks, “am I being the best neighbor” to the people who live around me. Am I checking in on people?
RJ: It is a group of families who share common in common goals for their living area. They want growth in all areas.
GP: My neighborhood raised me. Neighbors have pride in you and lift you up and want the best for you.
SH: Neighborhoods should feel safe. People should have ownership and pride in their areas.
RF: Neighborhoods are people living together who look out for each other and help one another.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:38pm.