Town Council candidates hold forum in Bedford
Six candidates are vying for five seats up in November
BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Tuesday evening, candidates for Bedford’s town council faced off in a forum. During the two-hour event, they took questions ranging from defunding the police to cutting taxes.
Questions were submitted by Bedford residents, and chosen by the area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event.
Six candidates are vying for five seats in November. Tim Black currently serves as Bedford’s vice mayor. Stacey Hailey, Bruce Johannessen, Bryan Schley, and CG Stanley are all current council members. Bruce Hartwick, who sells life insurance, is the only outsider, making his third run for a council seat.
During the forum, candidates worked to distinguish themselves, including on potential tax cuts.
“I think it’s all dependent on the projected needs of the community and town,” said Black.
“I think we do a great job of keeping taxes low,” said Stanley.
Hartwick disagreed. “Some people on council say we’ve cut taxes, but more could have been done,” he said.
Council members serve four-year terms, meaning those elected in November will likely oversee the planned expansion of the town, and its services, in 2023. Candidates were asked whether the town would be able to extend services.
“We’re going to have to provide the same services that the town people get today, and I think we can do that,” said Johannessen.
“Brush cleanup, street sweeping, things like that to keep our community clean: those are some of the services,” said Schley, adding new residents will also have access to town police and firefighters.
“What am I going to get in addition to what I already have? Well, street lights, probably at some point in time. Probably sidewalks,” said Stanley.
All six men praised the work of Bedford’s police department, and some said more funding and support is needed.
“Council and our community is going to have to discuss funding a new police facility,” said Black.
“If anything I’d like to see a little bit more money put to our police department,” said Johannessen.
“And when it comes down to a new building for them, I would definitely support that. They do need new facilities. They need new upgrades,” said Hailey.
The candidates all agreed that bringing a train station to Bedford in the coming years would be a major boost to the town. They also agreed economic growth needs to be a focus of council in the coming years.
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