HAZARD—Eight of the nine City of Hazard Commissioners candidates met a packed house at the Perry County Public Library in Hazard Thursday night as they participated in one of the first town hall debates in the history of the city.
Moderator Max Mitchell, executive vice president with 1st Trust Bank, gave each candidate 60 seconds to introduce themselves before he began asking questions.
“I think all of us need to be elected,” candidate Donnie White joked during his introduction, but added that with the financial troubles the community has found itself in it might help more to have eight commissioners instead of only four.
The debate, which was hosted by InVision Hazard, was broken down into four parts. Candidates were split into three groups, each group being asked a different yet similar question from the other groups in each part. Each candidate was given 60 seconds to answer their question and would be cut off if they ran over that time.
Topics of discussion centered around challenges the city faces as well as emerging opportunities, improving the local governance system, and increasing revenue for the city and the possibility of the ever unpopular tax increase.
“We’re your voice,” candidate John Quillen said. “If we’re elected commissioner, we’re your voice. you have to come to us and hold us responsible for doing the right things.”
Youth moderator Madolyn Sluss, with the Perry County Youth Leadership Philanthropy Initiative, took over part three of the debate, asking candidates how they would reach out to the youth to help stop the “brain drain” of the area.
The fourth part of the debate centered around questions from the audience which were collected throughout the first parts of the debate.
Allison Tse, coordinator of InVision Hazard, said the group is planning to have another debate sometime in April for the City of Hazard mayor candidates and the Perry County judge-executive candidates, who have yet to respond to the request for attendance.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.