Tryon questions mayoral candidatesPublished 10:10pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Attracting new businesses, generating more income, the pros and cons of sharing or consolidating services, and leadership, were among the issues raised at Tuesday, Oct. 22’s Tryon mayoral candidates’ question and answer forum outside the Tryon Depot.
The format featured Mayor Alan Peoples and challenger Jim Wright. Several questions from the audience followed.
Mayoral terms in Tryon are two years. Each candidate treated the other with respect but later on, they sparred mildly.
In his opening remarks, Peoples stressed that when he took over as mayor, Tryon was about $1.6-1.7 million in debt, and that sum has been paid back with almost no interest. He asked for the citizens’ vote to continue this recovery.
Peoples, who is a retired Lt. Colonel in the reserves, has also been a teacher in Polk
County schools. He currently coaches the Polk County High School boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams.
“Leadership; that’s what this race is about,” announced Wright in his opening remarks. He had a 40-year career in forest products and paper manufacturing, with most of that time spent in human resources. “My entire career was in the for-profit sector.”
“I decided to run for mayor, continued Wright, “because I think I can motivate a greater number of diverse people to make a contribution to Tryon. I think I can be an effective leader.” He currently serves as a guardian ad litem in the Polk County courts, and on the Tryon Parks Commission.
To the first question about each candidate’s top priority, “Look downtown,” said Peoples, who described “infrastructure and new business,” as the town’s needs.
“Get people to talk to you,” he said. He urged Tryon residents to keep their money in Tryon, and “not drive to Hendersonville; not drive to Spartanburg. . . Don’t go elsewhere and shop,” Peoples said. “It costs you money.”
Wright answered, “Streets to pave, neighborhoods to clean up.”
As mayor, he said he would work to generate more income for Tryon, and reduce costs. He suggested that Tryon’s municipal water capacity is about twice that of demand, and that excess could be marketed. He hopes tax revenues increase along with an increased tax base as well.
Peoples agreed with Wright on the issue of water and sewer, but noted that Tryon already has agreements with different water authorities.
“Never sell (water) to a profit group,” stressed Peoples. Regarding the city’s aging water and sewer system, Peoples noted, “Find the leaks.”
The $10 million in current water and sewer problems seems like a great sum, Peoples said, but added that finding and fixing one problem at a time, can spread the cost over 10 years.
Wright suggested that the city needs a strategic plan to restore the system to what the citizens like. This could be accomplished, he said, through several methods, including a bond and by borrowing money. A bond issue has more appeal to him.