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Candidates talk education, taxes at forum

On Tuesday night, John Noel’s political science class hosted a public forum in the Randolph-Henry Auditorium for Charlotte County candidates.

Each opposed candidate was asked an individual student-generated question and incumbents/unopposed candidates were given the opportunity to follow up with additional remarks at the end of questioning.  Each candidate was given approximately one minute to answer proposed questions.

A total of 13 local candidates attended the public forum. Candidates included: Nan Colley, clerk of the court; JonPaul Hall Berkley, Bacon-Saxe district school board; James R. Napier, Drakes Branch district board of supervisors; T.E. Locke, Drakes Branch district school board; Larry Fannon, county seat school board; Bernadine Johnson, Bacon-Saxe district school board; Gary Walker, county seat district board of supervisors;  Dr. Nancy R. Carwile, Cullen-Red House district board of supervisors; Richard “Rick” Griffith, Drakes Branch district board of supervisors; Patricia Berkeley, treasurer; William Green, commonwealth’s attorney; Garland H. “Butch” Hamlett Jr., Drakes Branch district board of supervisors and Gloria Talbott, Drakes Branch district school board.

“The reason I decided to run was I have a child in the school system and I’ve seen this school system over the last few years continue to go downhill,” said Berkley.

“We are hiring people out the county. We should be hiring people in the county,” he said.

“This board has made some of the worst decisions in the school system that could’ve possibly been made. We are losing good employees,” Berkley said.

“I believe in public education,” said Locke. “My goal as a school board member is to see that we educate all of our students to the best of our abilities,” he said.

“I have 36-plus years of experience in education. I have insight from the teacher’s aspect and insight from the administrator’s aspect,” said Talbott.

“… Mr. Locke has done a good job, I just decided to run because I thought being on the school board is going to be an experience I have not experienced at this point and I am looking forward to it,” she said.

After introductions, opposed candidates were asked questions by political science students concerning issues within the county and local school system.

When asked how he would fix the reoccurring issue of traffic accidents at the intersection of Craton’s Gate and Kings Highway, Napier said, “the redesign needs to be taken completely out.”

“The best fix is to put the turning lanes and all back in, put a stop light there, and be done with it. We’re the future of Charlotte County. We don’t care about being the only county without a stoplight. It’s all about saving lives and reducing accidents,” he said.

After being asked about how he would make the tax increase lower for businesses and residents of Charlotte County, Griffith said, “I think if we can get the county working where we can keep (taxes) it at the lowest point where people can afford it. I don’t know of any other way to do it right now.”

At the conclusion of the forum, candidates were invited to a reception with the Randolph-Henry Political Science class.