Sallie Prugh attended Thursday night’s City Council candidates’ forum for District 3 in hopes of finally picking a candidate.
“I came here because I haven’t been able to make up my mind,” said the longtime Shandon resident.
Who to vote for has been on the minds of many of her friends and neighbors, she said.
But toward the end of the forum, she was finally starting to narrow down her decision. And while she didn’t want to say who that might be, she did say she was there to hear where the candidates stood on key issues such as funding the region’s ailing bus system and fixing the city’s flooding problems.
For the candidates – now down to three after Michael Miller announced his withdrawal from the race – Thursday night’s forum, held at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in the heart of Shandon, marked the end of weeks of neighborhood meetings, candidate forums and endorsement announcements.
Some like Janet Lockhart were still undecided.
A Shandon resident, Lockhart had attended two forums in the last week hoping to decide on a candidate. But toward the end of Thursday’s event, she remained torn between two.
Overall, the candidates’ positions, she said, have been “really close” making it difficult to decide.
“They talk about wanting to improve public safety but you think, ‘Ok let’s go a little beyond that,’ or yes, the watershed is a problem, but can we go a little deeper on that?” she said.
The candidates themselves seem to have sensed the need to underscore their differences, having begun to focus on those points of disagreement in only the last few weeks.
At Thursday night’s forum the tone only became slightly contentious toward the end when the candidates were asked to each pose one question for the others to answer.
After attorney Jenny Isgett asked her opponents what real world or work experience they brought to the table, restaurateur Moe Baddourah responded to Daniel Coble’s answer, in which he described his community service, by saying, “I think you’ve been a student all your life.”
Coble, 25, is in his final semester at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law.
Coble asked his opponents where they would make up revenue if they proposed cutting business license fees. Baddourah said he had “never proposed ending business license fees,” adding that he simply wanted to “cut the red tape” to make it easier for businesses to set up shop in Columbia.
Isgett immediately said that doing away with the fees was part of her campaign and would be just one way of keeping businesses from “going across the river.”
For Janet Lockhart, part of deciding who she would vote was seeing the candidates in action.
“And how they handled themselves,” she said. “But I’ll be ready (on Tuesday).”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.