Apr 20, 2010

Candidates debate policies

by Amanda Sullivan

The candidates running for Lynchburg City Council gathered at Lynchburg College to debate their policies and platforms on April 15. All candidates were in attendance.

The event was hosted by the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce, Lynchburg College and ABC 13. A team of media panelists was formed to ask rotating questions to the candidates. The panel consisted of Libby Fitzgerald from WVTF, Charlottesville public radio; Noreen Turyn from ABC 13; Ray Reed from The News & Advance and Mari White from WLNI, News/talk radio in Lynchburg. Lynchburg College professor Dr. Kirt von Daacke acted as the event moderator.

Each candidate was given a one-minute opening statement, one minute to respond to questions posed and 30 seconds for closing remarks. The order of the candidates was randomly decided, according to Daacke.

The candidates were asked a series of questions, including one about the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) restrictions placed on colleges and universities in the Lynchburg area.

“Government should not micromanage grounds of any institution,” Republican Candidate Hunsdson “H” Cary said. “The first thing (to take care of) is safe pedestrian crossing.”

White asked the candidates what they thought about the relationship between Liberty University and the City of Lynchburg.

“It’s no secret (the relationship) is strained,” Republican Candidate Ted Hannon said. “There is kind of a we-they atmosphere. We need a complete change of atmosphere.”

“(I) don’t believe there’s a rift between Lynchburg and Liberty,” Independent candidate J.P. Vaughan said.

Republican candidate Don Good thought the issues resided “between the Chancellor and city government.”

Liberty student and city council candidate Brent Robertson suggested Lynchburg “bridge the gap” and “elect a Liberty student,” plugging his own campaign.

Turyn asked the candidates their positions on downtown development and spending.

“I’ve been a great supporter of downtown revitalization,” Mayor Joan Foster said. “Public investment has brought on private investment.”

The eight candidates were also asked their positions on the school board and whether intelligent design should be taught alongside the evolutionist theory in the public schools.

“I’m not going to venture to say what should be taught in school,” Vaughan said.

“I’m going to get really controversial,” Robertson said. “I see no scientific proof that evolution should reign supreme in classrooms.”

Independent candidate Randy Nelson preferred to leave curriculum decisions to the school board, noting that the board should not support a theory that is “foreign to science.”
White also asked the candidates to talk about their perspectives on race relations in the city, focusing on the recent incident where a police officer shot and killed a black man.

“It is a problem we all share,” Independent candidate James Coleman said. “In 2009, we did not have a homicide in this city.”

Additionally, the candidates were also asked about parking in downtown Lynchburg, their thoughts on public support of the arts and state funding.

To listen to the full interview and watch a video package from the event, visit the Champion’s Web site at Liberty.edu/champion.

Contact Amanda Sullivan at

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