First Posted: 9/22/2009
Twyla Sickmiller opened the doors of 308 Bistro last night for a meet and greet with Mount Airys mayoral candidates, providing a more intimate atmosphere for citizens to get to know them.
I thought it would be good for people to get to know the candidates on a more personal level … I think sometimes we only meet them on a formal level, Sickmiller said.
The floating event took place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. People could partake of the cash bar or free refreshments while talking to the candidates. Each candidate had a little area to set up their voting materials, but they also could each drift about the restaurant to talk with citizens and other candidates.
I think its wonderful, and I dont think its done enough, said Billie Jo Easter, who runs Froo Froo Pet Boutique downtown.
Easter said she does not live in the voting region, but wants to make sure that the concerns of the downtown businesses are heard by the candidates. She said the main issue on her and many other business owners minds is the economy. She wants more jobs to come to the area to help the downtown stay alive and busy.
I want to make sure that the candidate we elect is interested in our concerns, she said.
Bobbie and John Collins are with Century 21 – Homestead Realty. They were just annexed into the city limits last year, so this is their first year to vote in a city election.
We know all of them and like all of them and dont know who to vote for, John said.
The Collins couple also listed the economy as their top concern in the area.
We need to make sure were not spending more than were capable of, Bobbie commented.
The couple said they wish more people would come to these events with the candidates. John said of the community, I think theyre interested but maybe not as participatory as you would like.
You cant complain later if you didnt vote and choose, added Bobbie.
Several people noted the low attendance. Candidate Teresa Lewis said, There is just so much going on. Candidate Paul Eich even said, I dont think people know theres an election in October.
Eich said he feels a primary issue in the city is that the community is not unified. He says the forced annexation brought in a lot of people who dont feel like a part of the city.
Deborah Cochran said she hears a lot of concerns about the economy and water and sewer problems. She was glad people could come ask them about these issues at the Bistro event.
I think its a marvelous opportunity to meet with citizens and hear their concerns, Cochran commented.
Lewis said people always ask her about jobs at these events. She said she was thankful for Twyla opening the door for the event to take place.
This was just my opening up to the community so they could schmooze with the candidates, Sickmiller said with a smile.
Gene Clark was not present at the event, but his wife, Becky, was on hand to field questions. Becky said Gene had a prior engagement.
The next event with all of the candidates is a forum scheduled by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce for Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. It takes place one week before the primary.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or at 719-1952.