The four candidates who are running for the two open seats on the Salem City Council in this November’s election participated in a candidate forum last Thursday, Oct. 13 in the Andrew Lewis Middle School auditorium.
Candidates John Saunders, Randy Foley, Anne Marie Green and Hunter Holliday answered a range of questions that were submitted by those in attendance.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to provide a short opening statement before answering questions.
“I’ve served on council for 16 years and I’m proud of that time,” Foley said during his opening statement. He also discussed his educational and professional backgrounds. “I think I still have a lot to provide the city. We’re in dire times now in that we have a lot of capital projects to accomplish, and I think that rational, seasoned experience is what is needed to make these big decisions. They’re going to be the biggest decisions fiscally the city has ever taken on.”
“As I looked at the financial documents of the city, it occurred to me in the last 20 years of the three local governments that are here—the two cities and the county—Salem is the only jurisdiction that has raised its property tax,” Green said. “Both the city and the county have reduced their taxes in the last two years. In the City of Salem, it has gone up .02 cents. The City of Roanoke and Roanoke County have built new libraries, they’ve renovated schools, they’ve done all the things the City of Salem has done, and they’ve managed to do it in a perhaps more fiscally responsible manner.”
“I’m qualified to be Salem’s next city councilman for many reasons—the first being Salem born and breed. My love for this city is unmatched,” Holliday said. “During my 36 years in the Army, I lived by these core values: loyalty, respect, selfless service, honest, integrity and courage. Always lead from the front. I believe that I can bring a much needed outside perspective to Salem City Council. Public service is a privilege and a trust.”
“We’ve done a lot of great things in the past four years. We changed the direction of the management of the city. We got public speaking at council meetings. We pushed personal property tax relief. We renovated Salem High School. We’re now basically rebuilding Moyer. We increased city employee salaries and worked very hard to have retention of our employees,” Saunders said. “The future infrastructure, to me, is key. We took care of the two immediate problems. The civic center is next. I don’t know anyone else up here that is as qualified as I am to work on that project. I will make sure our schools have the funding they need.”
The forum was hosted by the Salem Council of PTAs.
No-excuse early voting at the Salem Registrar’s Office started on Sept. 23. The early voting period will end Nov. 5. Voting can be done from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The last day to update registration or to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 17.
Oct. 29 is the last day to request an absentee ballot application to vote by mail.
On Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, the Registrar’s Office will be open for in-person Saturday voting from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
All precincts will vote on Election Day at the Salem Civic Center.
On the ballot, voters will be asked to select two City Council candidates. Additionally, voters will select from Democrat Jennifer Lewis and Republican Rep. Ben Cline for Virginia’s 6th Congressional District.