Archived Story

He wants to hear solutions

Published 10:55am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tonight, Southampton County voters will have the opportunity to hear directly from several individuals who are vying for four seats on the county board of supervisors.

Steve Stewart, publisher of The Tidewater News, will ask questions submitted by readers.

I am not privy to those questions. But if I had to guess, I imagine they would deal with fairly broad topics, such as debt and taxes, jobs and schools.

I love watching political debates because I think they often reveal much about the candidates beyond their rehearsed responses to questions they know are coming their way. Debates give us insight into a candidate’s ability to perform under pressure and to think on their feet.

We get to see which candidates can clearly articulate their thoughts on various issues. Oftentimes we can determine which candidates have spent significant time preparing for a serious discussion of the issues, while identifying others who have shown up for the event utterly unprepared.

Some debate formats even encourage direct interaction between candidates, which often derails the process of serious topic-centered debate, but can produce memorable lines and define political legacies.

Most candidates will do a good job of telling us what is wrong and what is broken. We will certainly be reminded that Southampton County has accumulated a substantial amount of debt in recent years, while also experiencing consecutive years of tax increases.

Candidates will probably tell us the county is in need of economic development and new jobs, and they will question the leadership of those who have been involved in getting us to where we are today. There will probably be some taking of credit for a job well done. There will most likely be some finger pointing and laying of blame.

What is often lost, however, in the drama of a live debate such as the one being held tonight is that many candidates won’t actually have a plan. And a plan is precisely what we need more than anything.

Most of us who will vote in November are pretty well aware of our shortcomings and our economic state. We all want to pay down the county’s debt. We all want lower taxes. We want the best possible schools for our children and good-paying jobs for our friends and neighbors.

We may have varying opinions on how to achieve them, but we all essentially want the same thing — for our community to improve and become a better place to live.

So what I hope to hear tonight from candidates is a plan to fix the problems. Candidates need to take this opportunity to deliver solutions, and I hope those who do will get your votes. They’ll certainly get mine.

TONY CLARK is the general manager and advertising director at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at

  • Maxdoubt

    I attended and I’m guessing Tony Clark is disappointed. Not many solutions there.

    Suggest Removal

    • blackwaterpete

      Well I sat through this fourm and watched with amazement at just how bad off we where as a community. I am so glad we where able to see just where we stood with our leaders whom (I think they forgot who put them there)know what is best for us all.
      I was able to study some body language up there and saw many things that where not going good for some of the incumbents. Now this is just my opinion so take it as such and make your own.

      First I saw Barry Porter come right out of the chute and make his points and as for answering the questions he got the best of the answers. His background showed who he was and how he could do a lot better than what we have now. As for Mr. Yound who can not defend himself here I can say only what I have seen with my eyes of him in board meetings. My opinion. Time to go!
      Next was Mr. Phillips and Mr. Wyche. Mr. Phillips started out slow but came on strong later on and did a fantastic job of explaining himself. His early faltering was understood due to the imtimidation factor. Mr. Wyche on the other hand did not have a clue!!!! Lost in Space is the only thing I can think of. Very slow on all points but yet kept that constant. When frustrated you saw him throw down his pencil and raise back in the chair and fold his arms. He was gotten to. I dont think he was used to being challanged so hard and so fast. I see a new board member coming in that area. Mrs. Felts and Mr. Edwards squared off in a great battle at times. But still Mr. Edwards had the upper hand. Though he did make a couple of mistakes he managed to come out swinging and end it swinging. He showed no signs of stress and went for it it with full throttle. Mrs. Felts on the other hand in my opinion kept shooting herself in the foot. Taxes and a condinsending way to talking to all of us turned me off. She was showing signs of pressure as the eveing went on. To me her attitude was “I know better than you” I think that seat will now become open. And maybe it is time. Now for Mr. Brown and Mr. Updike. Mr. Brown was a winner here hands down. Mr. Updike while having good ideas and such put me to sleep trying to express them. Not a good speaker and a bit slow on the uptake as Wyche. Mr. Brown showed who he was and what he meant. His poise what that of confidence and it showed he was a Army Officer. He spoke straight and hammered on each point. But I will add this of Mr. Brown. JOBS JOBS JOBS was not the issue to push. The Turner tract was not the issue to push. Okay what do I mean! Without a clear and consise means to get to JOBS there will be none. The turner tract was brought up several time via Mr. Felts and Mr. Brown. Both failed to convince me on the subject that it was a good deal. I still have resverations on this deal to begin with. I do think a full investigation should be called for on the purchase of that piece of land. IMHO! Go back and see what Mr. Porter Said. “Corporations dont look at industrial parks” All in all in my opinion I call it this way Felts, Wyche and Young will be replaced. Brown is up in the air but I do not think he will go. To much of our money has been spent by these people who know better on how to spend it. Well for me I want my moneys worth and I sure am not getting it with these folks. Now if I am right on this matter then we will see the whole apple cart turn over in the next couple of years also. A full new board whom know what they are doing and maybe and I mean just maybe an elected school board to really get us going.

      Suggest Removal

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