By Paige Nash
The common theme among Minden City Council candidates at Monday evening’s forum was that this is not the same Minden that they have come to know growing up here in the city. All could agree it is time for a change and that hopefully a big one is on the horizon with the election quickly approaching on November 8.
The Greater Minden Chamber partnered again with the Northwest Technical College on Monday to hold a forum, giving candidates an opportunity to shed light on their platforms and views on prominent issues the city of Minden is currently facing. Candidates present were Carlton “Buddy” Myles for District A, Joey P. Frye and Damien Kemp for District B. Maretta Gage and Javelin Hardy for District C. Michael Roy and LaKeyla Williams for District D. Thomas Adams, Michael Fluhr and Andy Pendergrass for District E.
One of the questions asked touched on what the candidates thought that the city has handled well over the last few years and the counterpart; what they believed the city has handled poorly.
Myles representing District A said, “The community comes together when things happen. We kind of all try to take care of each other. I feel pushing for tourism has been going really well. As far as what we have done poorly, I feel like moving into the future, we have done a poor job at having an outlook on what’s next for Minden. We haven’t been invested in the youth of Minden. Youth is the future of Minden.”
Frye with District B said, “It’s a great place to live and a great place to raise your family. I feel safe in Minden most of the time. The police have done a great job. There has just been a lot of discord amongst the council and that has been my main reason for wanting to run. Some of the roads are pretty pathetic.”
Kemp, also representing District B said, “I think Minden is growing. It is doing well in a lot of different areas, or some areas are doing good, put it that way. Most areas that I have visited is not. Citizens complain about it and I have talked to some citizens about it and that’s one thing that the city needs to improve on, going out to the citizens and asking them what’s the need.”
Gage for District C said, “We have had some respectful people who have moved here that have retired and come home to live. The body of the government has to be of one accord. Whatever issue you have with the next person, you can’t bring that into a meeting. Another thing is the communication between the police officers and the community. Minden has some very aggressive police officers. People will tell you what you want to know if you weren’t so aggressive.”
Hardy also for District C said, “One thing the city is doing well on is economic growth and business growth, to me as a whole though, it’s not the entire city. I really wish we weren’t divided into districts because you are able to see which district is applying for funding, which district is having responses especially when it comes to the census. That’s how you get grants in your neighborhood. The electric bill for one month is $300, one month is $600.”
Roy, the incumbent for District D said, “I believe the city has done well with managing its funds that are collected, certainly we can do better. We have not communicated well with the people of the city, whether it be electric bills or contracts. We have not done well with Economic Development. We have to think outside the box to bring in industry that will increase the number of people and businesses coming to Minden.”
Williams for District D said, “I like the way that our city does the annual events like Main to Main, Grilling on Main and the Vintage Car Club Show and Shine. By creating events and giving people opportunities to come to our town to the events, then they get a chance to see what Minden is all about, and also brings money to our community because while they are here, they are stopping by McDonalds and Wendys and spending money in our community. The utility bills, getting to that contract, that caused us to have those high bills that a lot of people are not able to afford, also answering animal control calls.”
Adams for District E said, “What has the city done well, I think new businesses. Main Street is thriving. I think that a lot of the younger people are taking over their family’s businesses or starting new businesses. They are adding to what their family did. I think what Minden has done poorly is probably the city council. They have been about as disrespectful to each other as any adults that I have ever seen. Communicating a little better and doing a better job with economic development and maybe trying to empower the people that are here that want to start businesses. We need to streamline the process of opening a business.”
Fluhr for District E said, “I believe that the city has done well at using the available resources, which has been used to all kinds of funds. The question concerning how we can improve, and that’s where I believe the city has not done very well, is economic development. The city is not prepared for big companies to come in and provide jobs. The city has to come up with packages, infrastructure and incentive packages, to attract a business to come in and we have to be ready with a 5-year infrastructure plan.”
Pendergrass also for District E said, “Something that nobody has said that I thought was done extremely well, we had a hurricane and a big freeze. The city did a really good job in preparing for those things and in response when they happened. I think our utility crews are unsung heroes in our town. They run at a high level. They get out there and work in bad weather and they just keep going. Like everyone else has said, I think the priority would be for the council to have trustworthy relationships going forward. I think that has been the biggest downfall in our city in the last four years. If we can’t get those relationships right, all these other ideas aren’t going to matter. We’ve got to get those relationships right.”
The forum also touched on issues regarding public safety, low pay issues, racial divides, and utilities.
In their one-minute closing statements, the candidates had a final chance to make an impact.
District A representative Myles said, “There have been conversations about Minden, it’s been said that we need a council with more experience. I pose this question to you, District A specifically, ‘what has experience done for us in the last 20 years besides land us in the position we are in now with lackluster roads, horrible internet service, tons of abandoned homes, astronomically high utility bills and the elevated crime rate. Experience means nothing when experience does nothing.”
District B representative Frye said, “I love Minden. I want to be a part of Minden and I have never been a part of a political office. I am an older guy now and I want to serve my community before I die.”
Kemp, also for District B said, “Let’s move Minden forward and I thank you for being here.”
Gage for District C said, “I want to be a part of Minden moving forward. I want to be a part of this new council, but if for some reason I don’t make it, that’s not going to make me give up. It’s going to make me try harder. This is the first time I have done anything political. I didn’t realize it was so expensive and so hard, but God has made a way through it all.”
Hardy, also for District C said, “I am going to say something. It’s from my heart. Charge it to my head and not my heart. I want the city of Minden to raise as much money for social service and law enforcement as you do for St. Jude.”
Roy for District D said, “This job that I have as a city council member is not about money or fame or anything like that. Many times, I tried to give up my salary to better certain positions. I will do the best I can if I am reelected. If you need me, please do not hesitate to call.”
Representative for District D Williams said, “I stand on bringing hope and unity back to Minden. I believe in one town, one city, united together. I believe if we work together, we all can make Minden number one; the best city of Minden.”
Adams for District E said, “I truly believe that everybody sitting in this room and everybody in this city can make a difference. We have to put our time, energy and money back into Minden. The most encouraging thing that I have heard tonight is that I think everybody down this table at some point or another said that they love Minden. That’s what it is going to take.”
Fluhr for District E said, “In three weeks the citizens of Minden are going to elect a new city government. I believe both of my opponents are good and decent men, probably good businessmen, but I am going to bring an advantage to the council. I know how the city operates. I know how the mayor operates. I know how the warehouse workers operate.”
Pendergrass also for District E said, “Minden is at a crossroads in many ways. I think that we have more positives than negatives and we have a whole lot of opportunities. We’ve got a new sawmill being built in Taylor, La and we have got a new exit coming off of Barksdale and we are literally at the crossroads of those things. We have an opportunity, but we have to get some things right in our city to reap the benefits from that. I hope that this council can be for building bridges and not fences.”
If you were unable to attend this forum, you can find it on the Greater Minden Chamber Facebook page. Thursday’s issue of the Webster Parish Journal will include a story on the Chief of Police forum also held this past Monday.