Oxford mayoral debate
- COLD BEER: Every single candidate said that he or she would support or "be fine with" legalizing cold beer. Did you know Oxford is the only jurisdiction in the state that requires beer to be hot?
- SUNDAY SALES: All candidates but Mayor Patterson and Alderman Coach Howell said that they would either support Sunday sales of alcohol or defer to the will of the constituents. Mayor Patterson seemed to make it pretty clear that, if re-elected, he would veto Sunday sales even if the Aldermen voted to pass it.
- GROWTH: Planning for growth was the big topic. There was a great deal of talk about planning, but there were very few who actually provided specific plans to solve the obvious issues such as parking. Multiple incumbents held up binders of papers showing that they had written down plans. The challengers countered by suggesting that the plans were all talk.
- SHAPIRO: Ron Shapiro is running, and that's great. Although he suggested some funny stuff like Native American monuments and a bicycle festival, he also had some of the best ideas of the night. He suggested solving Square parking problems by limiting the number of on-Square parking spaces on-Square business employees can use. That's a really good idea.
- CHALLENGERS: The challengers are super strong this year. This is a hot race, and a large to total overhaul of the existing government would not be surprising at all.
- HUMOR: The forum was hilarious. Ms. Carol Flemmons is running for Alderman, and she was extremely honest and intentionally vulnerable. In response to one question, she said, "Lord help me Jesus, I'm going to have to get back to you on that one." It was great. In response to Coach Howell saying that Sundays should be kept holy, Shapiro said, "Jesus turned water into wine, not wine into water." At one point, all the lights went out, and Todd Wade said, "Last call!" It was good-spirited.
- WILKIE: Ernest Hemingway, err, Curtis Wilkie was a pretty good moderator even if it did sound like he was gargling gravel. Incumbent Ney Williams called him "Dr. Wilkie" at one point, and Wilkie quickly responded, "I've just been promoted. I barely got a bachelors degree!"
The three mayoral candidates are Pat Patterson, Jason Plunk, and Todd Wade. They all answered questions in a mostly friendly manner. Plunk wins the award for being the most straightforward and intentionally unpolished. He was very candid with the audience about issues, and offered a refreshing comparison to politicians.
Mayor Patterson stood on his record and basically said that, if things are going well enough, let's just keep going like this. He was just about the farthest on the anti-alcohol side at one time asking the audience to ask themselves what they wanted the character of Oxford to be and saying that he wanted Oxford to be more like it was when he grew up. He also asserted his skill and strengths in budgeting and claimed the Baptist Hospital sale and resulting financial windfall as one of his achievements.
Todd Wade offered a competent and strong contrast to Mayor Patterson. He emphasized decreased government involvement and increased encouragement of business. He also offered specific actions he would take to alleviate problems, and Mayor Patterson told him, point blank, "No, that's not viable." Wade disagreed. Wade also challenged Mayor Patterson to shut down the robo-ticketing Jeep on the Square after revealing that it has lost the city $100,000 this year.
It's going to be an interesting race.