Full house for candidate forum in Vinton

By By Natalie Stewart / American Press

VINTON — It was a full house at Vinton Town Hall Tuesday night for the League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Candidates for police chief and Town Council participated in the forum for the April 6 election, which about 100 residents

attended.

Police Chief candidates Ricky Fox, Chad Ivery Perry and Arthur Phillips Sr. answered 10 questions during the forum.

Fox, who has been police chief for eight years and in law enforcement for 42, said if re-elected he will maintain the trust

he has between the department, the mayor and Town Council and continue to move the department forward.

“I’m responsible for the safety and

security of the people in this town,” he said. “The only time the police

department has

been over budget was when I first took over in July 2005 … we had a

hurricane and every department in town was over that year.

Other than that, we have met or been below our budget.”

Perry said he has no law enforcement experience but is “running as a resident.”

He said as police chief he “doesn’t think it’s a good idea to stay under budget all the time. … We need to patrol the town.”

“Election time is a positive thing, it’s good. It brings out the best in our elected officials,” Perry said. “I’m already

seeing some good results from this election from some things I’ve posted on the Internet. Choices are good, we need to ask

… do we want more of the same or are we ready for a change? Do we want to move forward? I believe we are ready to move on.

We need to go in a new direction.”

Phillips, who has 29 years of experience in law enforcement, said if elected police chief he will “work with the community

as one” by checking on the elderly in the community.

“What we want to do … is to get the

people to start making phone calls to our elderly to check on them just

to see how they’re

doing and to make sure they feel safe in their homes,” he said

“Also, we need to bring back law enforcement the way it used

to be when law enforcement walked back alleys.”

Perry and Phillips both agreed that drugs are a “big problem” in the town and if elected they would start a K-9 unit

to combat the problem.

“What occurs is everything in this town

is done with people that know people, they will not sell (drugs) to

someone that they

do not know and have not been introduced to,” Fox said.

“Therefore, you can’t use an officer here. I have provided information

to the CAT task force and state police — both who currently have

large investigations going on in this town. It’s impossible

for a local police department to have the man-power and the

resources to do what these other agencies can do.”

Councilmen Bliss Bujard, Harold Douga, William “B.B.” Loyd, Paul Patin and Kevin Merchant along with candidates Richard Huval

and Marcus Renfrow also answered 10 questions during the forum.

Huval said he decided to run for a council seat because “Vinton can do better than what we are doing now.”

“I like the small-town atmosphere, I have lived here all my life,” he said. “I would like to see more participation with the

council and the (residents). If I’m elected on this council … I work for you.”

Patin, who has been on the council for four years, said after a lot of “soul searching” he decided to run again.

“I want to pursue my work on getting

our streets resurfaced,” he said. “Taxpayers spoke loud and clear when

they renewed the

sales tax for that purpose. I feel we owe our people of this town

that respect. We need to clean up and remove abandoned houses

which are bringing the value of neighborhood property down and

keeping people from moving (to Vinton.)”

Refrow said he decided to run to bring a “fresh perspective” to the council.

“I grew up here. I grew up outside city

limits and then bought a house in city limits,” he said. “I love the

small-town atmosphere

and I think a city council has the responsibility to build the

infrastructure of the town and strengthen it. If we don’t have

pride in our town then we don’t have anything.”

Merchant, who has served as a councilman for eight years, said he wants to “move the community forward.”

“I have been truly blessed to be on this council for the last eight years and I think we have made some great improvements

over that time,” he said. “I want to continue to see that happen as we continue further down the road.”

Loyd, who has served as a member of the council for 12 years, said he is seeking re-election to continue serving the town.

“We have to look toward the future,” he said. “As a council we have to band together to invest in tomorrow. What I want to

do for the next four years is legislate policies to help this city grow.”

Bujard, who has been a council member for six years, said he plans to “continue to be a voice for the (residents) of Vinton.”

“I was born and raised here … I want to make this town better,” he said. “Government easily forgets that we work for you.”

Douga, who has been on the council for six years, said serving on the council has been an “awesome experience.”

“I take it very seriously,” he said. “The thing I think about all the time is the decisions this council makes will affect

(residents) and it will also affect people that live here long after we’re gone. … I have a heart for serving people. I’m

very passionate about what I do and I’m very passionate about the people in this town.”

For more information on candidate forums or the League of Women Voters, visit at www.lwv-lc.org.