Candidate Forum

these peopleSt.JOHNSBURY- A forum was held Thursday night at Catamount Arts which featured Republican and Democratic representatives and challengers.

Michelle Fay and Bob South represented the Democrats, while Scott Beck and Janssen Willhoit represented the Republicans.The candidates had two minutes to give a response to questions that were asked ranging from education, health care, the economy and the prisioner population.

 An issue that was heavily focused on last night was school consolidation, which Fay strongly disagreed with. Michelle Fay believes that what's great about Vermont is their independent schools and that socio-economic school consolidation would not benefit the town of St. Johnsbury.

"I did vote against the school consolidation bill last year.  I favor local coversations.  I favor putting more of the pressure on communities to figure out what they're willing to spend to educate their kids."

Janssen Willhoit doesn't have an opposing or agreeing opinion on the school consolidation issue his biggest concern is cost to tax payers.

According to Willhoit, "The concern amongst the voters by large is that they just can't pay anymore. It's not that they dont want to educate their children, but to put it on the backs of their property taxes, is not the answer"

Fay also doesn't want to build more prisons in Vermont and desires instead to focus on getting non-violent criminals out of a cell and into a rehabilitation facility.

Bob South does not share this opinion, South finds that the female prison in Burlington is in shambles and would like to work on building a better detention facility, and doesn't find focusing on rehabilition for convicted persons as pertinant of an issue as Fay.

"The Burlington facility right now that the women are in is terrible, it's fallen down, there's many, many issues with it, so to answer your question is, yes, we're gonna have to build a new facility."

The third biggest issue touched last night was the lack of tourists coming to St. Johnsbury.

The town doesn't have many attractions or full time job positions open, so it's hard to get people to want to move to the town. According to Scott Beck, "St.Johnsbury's not attractive to people that are locating to this area or relocating in the area as other communities are."

Bob South agrees with this "I think that we really need to market St.Johnsbury and now's the time to do before that hotel (QBurke Resort) gets done, and to be able to say... at the end of your day... come to St.J."

The polls open on Tuesday November 4th to vote, but if you won't to be able to make it that day there is a way to be sure your voice is heard. Up until November 3rd, voters can submit an absentee ballot that can either be mailed to you, or picked up from the Town Clerk's Office.