Ruritans meet candidates

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Candidates for Chuckatuck seats on City Council and School Board took their campaigns to the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson Ruritan Club Monday night.

About 25 members and guests were at the meeting, including the candidates, but the meeting was not open to the general public. The candidates on both bodies are running for open seats because of the retirement of both representatives.

Linda Bouchard, the lone School Board candidate in attendance, told the club members her top priorities are keeping schools safe and meeting high academic standards. Many have told her their children do not feel safe at school, she said.

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“I’ve been concerned about that,” she said, adding she decided to run after someone else approached her about it.

Bouchard also hopes to help in the “struggle” between City Council and School Board over the location of a new elementary school in the southern end of the city to replace Southwestern and Robertson elementary schools. She thinks the school should be placed in a central location, she said.

“That is what I would like to study.”

Commissioner of the Revenue Thomas Hazelwood, a member of the Ruritan Club, introduced the two City Council candidates, speaking highly of both of them.

“I wish they could serve in different districts,” Hazelwood said.

Caroline Martin won a coin toss and spoke first about her desires.

“I’m not too happy that as many of our eggs are in one basket, and now we’re concerned about JFCOM,” she said of the military command in North Suffolk that is proposed for closure. “I’d like to see that planned growth.”

Martin also stressed her skills as a “consensus-builder,” a trait she said Suffolk would need in coming years as the city’s comprehensive plan is reviewed.

“I’m for smart, planned growth that builds on the plans that are here,” she said, advocating plenty of public input on the plan review.

She also reiterated her desire for more extensive public use of the city’s natural resources, including hiking and biking trails and boat ramps along the Nansemond River.

Mike Duman was the final speaker at the meeting.

“There’s only two entities that pay taxes — businesses and individuals,” Duman said. “We need to attract commercial and industrial growth.”

Duman said he knows “what it’s like to do business in this city” and advocated a one-stop-shop concept for business owners to be able to obtain the permits and help they need in one place, rather than being given the runaround by city employees.

“They work for you,” Duman said. “You’re the one that puts the money in the bank that pays for their paycheck.”

Duman also said he is fortunate that he does not have to “be beholden to anybody” other than the citizens.

“My special interests are no more than the citizens of Suffolk,” Duman said.

The City Council candidates also can be seen responding to questions from former mayor Andy Damiani on Charter channel 13 at 8 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The election will be held Nov. 2.