SGA holds municipal candidate forum

Stephanie Sansoucy

Approximately 100 people showed up for a Meet the Candidates forum Tuesday in the Linville Falls room of Plemmons Student Union.

The Student Government Association invited candidates for Boone Town Council as well as mayoral candidates who are running in the municipal elections taking place *Nov. 4.

Town council candidates Rennie Brantz, Quint David, Matthew Long, James Milner, Jennifer Peña and Mark Templeton spoke at the forum.

Sarah Dickson, director of Government and Student Affairs, and SGA president Dylan Russell took turns asking the candidates questions.

Each candidate was given two minutes for an introduction, asked three questions, to which they had 45 seconds to respond and concluded with a two-minute closing statement.

Each candidate was asked two of the same questions, with a third random question that was different for each candidate.

Russell said that SGA wanted to create an informed student body using a non-partisan event where students learn what is important to each candidate.

Editor’s Note: The following is coverage of the Boone town council candidates’ positions based on the forum held Tuesday. Continued coverage of the mayoral candidates will appear in the Oct. 31 issue of The Appalachian.

Rennie Brantz

Q1: What type of relationship would you like to see between the town and the university?

Brantz said that there needs to be a cooperative relationship between the two. He said he has tried to build a bridge over the last eight years while serving on town council.

Q2: What do you see as the most important issue facing the student body?

Brantz said that completing a college degree successfully and planning beyond that is an issue students face. Being involved in community activities and learning helps prepare students to be ready for life after college.

What do you believe to be the biggest issue facing the town of Boone?

Water is a big issue, Brantz said. The town is running out of water because it is at the end of the amount of water to allocate. A new water source needs to be found.

James Milner

Answer to Q1:

The town must sit down and listen, and the university needs to have their needs met, Milner said. He said what is good for the university is good for the town, and he understands the economic impact the university has on the town.

Answer to Q2:

The cost of housing is rising and is something that must be addressed.

How do you feel about the recent board of election changes regarding early voting?

Milner said that because of the actions of the board, people in the community, including students, have been disenfranchised. However, the bigger problem is that voter turnout is at an all-time low.

Matthew Long

Answer to Q1:

Long said there needs to be a continued effort of the town working with Appalachian as well as increased efforts with university departments, students and faculty to help the town with local issues and studies being done for the town.

Answer to Q2:

Long said that Boone is an expensive place to live and go to school with limited parking. To solve these issues, there needs to be continued efforts to have sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly routes through town. There also needs to be a parking solution downtown. Boone also needs job and career opportunities in Boone to encourage business development.

If elected how do you believe you will be able to help small businesses?

Long said he is willing to assist town council with revisions to the Unified Development Ordinance in the county. The town needs to encourage smart development and reduce impact fees.

Quint David

Answer to Q1:

There needs to be a continuation of work on the Watauga Green Business Plan that promotes local businesses being green and uses Appalachian as a resource on how to do so, David said. Students need to continue working with Town of Boone and Watauga County.

Answer to Q2:

David said that people come to Boone and Appalachian for the environment outside and to study the environment. Both the programs at Appalachian and the nature in Boone need to be maintained.  

What is your opinion of the noise ordinance in Boone?

David said that it is important to have a noise ordinance to protect residents and property. However, it is also important to realize we have a vibrant culture, and at times, a noisy downtown community. The town must come to middle ground on the issue.

Jennifer Peña

Answer to Q1:

Peña said that there needs to be a strong relationship between the university and the town. The community and university concerns must be heard and there needs to be work for the betterment of both the town and the university.

Answer to Q2:

The most important issue facing students is their ability to vote, Peña said. Students need to have simple access to the polls and feel like they are important and included.

How do you plan on working with the administration of Appalachian in aligning the university’s strategic plan with the town of Boone’s?

Peña said the process would be about dialogue and communication. There would need to be a meeting with the new chancellor face-to-face once he or she is hired.

Mark Templeton

Answer to Q1:

Templeton said that there needs to be a better relationship with students on committees in the Town of Boone. It is important for the students to participate, get involved, know the subject matter and understand the relationship between the town and university.

Answer to Q2:

Templeton said students face the issue of affordable housing and that there needs to be options for housing, dining and shopping. Boone also needs a vibrant economy or there will not be job opportunities for students and the community.

How are Boone housing regulations going to affect students?

Templeton said it is the most discriminatory regulation in Boone and that the regulation is biased against college students.

*Correction: The Appalachian incorrectly stated that municipal elections will be held Nov. 4. Municipal elections will be held Nov. 5. The Appalachian apologizes for this error.