Last Modified: Friday, October 26, 2012 1:29 PM
Doris Maricle // American Press firstname.lastname@example.org
WELSH — Economic development and curtailing crime were on the mind of candidates for the mayor’s race Tuesday during a political forum for the Nov. 6 election.
Incumbent Mayor Carolyn Louviere, who is seeking a third term, and opponent Colby Perry, a 19-year-old newcomer to politics, agreed that the town needs economic growth and a reduction in crime if it is to move forward.
“When I went in office you could ride down Adams and Elm Street and the buildings — many of them — had no one in them,” Louviere said. “They needed repair.”
Since then 14 businesses have opened in the town, she said.
“We continue to grow, and we have a clean town with a wonderful school,” she said. “We are hoping to better the crime rate in our town because that’s important in bringing businesses.”
She said many businesses come to look at Welsh and it looks like a great place, but they go back and Google the town and see all the crime taking place.
“This is discouraging them and people from moving here,” she said. “We know this is a great place, but when they read about this on their computers they shift away from locating, so we need to change that.”
She said among the current economic development projects, McDonald’s is looking for a place to locate. A five-year, $5 million airport improvement project — including a runway extension to accommodate small commercial planes — is being planned. And town officials are looking into installing fiber optics for businesses and residences. She would also like to see a hotel.
“This is going to bring economic development,” she said. “One good thing after another leads to improvements.”
Perry said he also believes in economic growth for the town and wants to retain its population by providing jobs and a safer place to raise families.
“We need businesses coming to Welsh,” he said. “It’s smart. It’s the right, savvy thing to do. It’s how we make money. It’s how we grow.”
He said residents also need to promote and support existing businesses.
Perry said that in the last few years he has seen his town diminish.
“What used to be a small, charming town known for its prized education system is now a playground for the media and a town with a bad reputation with the influx of crime we have been experiencing,” he said.
Explaining his decision to seek office, Perry said, “I want to step up and see my town prosper.”
“I want us to be able to reapply our motto: ‘Not the biggest, but the best,’ and I plan to implement that,” he said.
He said the town needs a change in leadership and a fair voice.
“I want our town to grow,” he said. “I want our town to become the place where you want your family to be raised and want your kids to go to school.”
In addressing crime, Perry said police officers need to be paid better and need to build a better relationship with the community.