By Bonnie Culverhouse
Minden City Council candidates made a fair showing for a forum last weekend at the 14th District Building.
Most candidates were interested in utilities, public safety and youth.
Each candidate was given three minutes to present their platform and then answer questions, beginning with District E.
Republican Thomas Adams expressed an interest in bringing people to Minden and keeping the ones that are here.
“We have to make people want to stay,” Adams, a local businessman, said. “We need to focus on getting past our short falls and work together as a group.”
Adams added he would like to see more economic development and wants to bring the sales tax base back to Minden.
“Economic development fixes everything,” he said. “The more sales tax you got, the more money you got.”
Independent Michael Fluhr believes compromise and communication are key.
“We need an efficient and effective government,” said Fluhr, who serves as interim city clerk for the city. “What I’ve seen in the last four years between the council and the mayor – no one was willing to make a compromise.
“That was a big problem, and communication between the council members – one group was over here and the other group was over there, and were not willing to cross over to the other side.”
Andy Pendergrass, No Party, had a family event and could not attend.
In District D, LaKeyla Williams, Democrat, wants to focus on the future, public safety and fair treatment.
“We need to get our youth involved in activities,” she said. “We can do that through youth enrichment programs.”
At the end of business, she said, referring to the city council, it’s not about “us, but us as a community and to serve our citizens.”
Republican Habacu Morales did not attend the forum, due to business obligations.
Independent Michael Roy said he did not attend because he was not aware of the forum.
Three of the four Democrats running for District C council seat were at the forum.
Incumbent Vincen “Cheese” Bradford is the only one who did not attend.
Maretta Gage told the audience that she would like to rebuild and restore the community.
“Rebuild means something is broke down and you’re building it back up,” Gage said. “To restore is to start over. Our community needs a lot of help.”
Gage pointed out the concerns of youth and the gangs in Minden.
“We need to show these kids we do care,” she said. “They don’t need to be around here shooting at each other.
Javelin Hardy said it is important to continue generational traditions and build a legacy, “not only for me but for my three adult children and grandchildren.”
Hardy said when she watched the HGTV program about Minden, she felt “totally left out – and also my neighbors.”
“I feel they were focusing on Minden and districts that looked way more better than the neighborhood that I’m living in,” she said. “We have no stores, no pharmacy … I truly want to develop a neighborhood association in my district.”
Latasha Mitchell wants to focus on safety for youth.
“We need to work as a team to overcome obstacles in the past,” Mitchell said. “We are lacking leadership, and our elderly are struggling on fixed incomes with high utility bills.”
In District B, Republican Joey Frye was the only candidate to attend the forum. Damien Kemp, No Party, and Democrat Levon “Charlie” Thomas were absent.
“I would begin by looking at current expenditures for waste, focusing on some of the smaller areas,” Frye said. “To ease tax payers’ burdens, I would like to find other sources of income, instead of utilities and taxes.”
Frye admitted he has never been on a city council but knows there must be grant money available to help. He also said he would like to market Minden as a bedroom community for other cities.
District A incumbent Democrat Wayne Edwards was absent due to personal issues. Republican Darrell Morris was also missing from the forum.
Independent Carlton “Buddy” Myles, a local businessman, said his platform is based on three main things.
“Infrastructure, economic development and also safety,” Myles said. “Our broadband Internet is lack luster, to say the least. We need more than one service provider.”
Another issue for Myles is abandoned properties.
“It’s a huge concern, especially in District A, on almost every block,” he said. “They are known breeding grounds for crime. It’s my goal to hire a couple of enforcement agents to go around and see to these properties.”
Myles wants to bring new companies to Minden that will hire local residents.
“We need to hire an economic developer who will head these efforts,” he said. “This person would be instrumental in keeping businesses here.”
Council candidates will have another chance to answer questions.
The Greater Minden Chamber will host two political forums in October at the Northwest Louisiana Technical College.
The mayoral and school board candidates for district 4, 6 and 8 will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, October 10, while the police chief and city council candidates will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, October 17. Both forums will be held at NLTCC, 9500 Industrial Drive, Minden.
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