Newman has my vote in Sylva
To the Editor:
I was once a candidate for the Sylva Town Council but withdrew when I realized that I did not have the time, because of personal matters, to do the position justice if elected. That does not mean that I have lost my interest in what is happening in the town of Sylva. For that reason, I attended the forum of the candidates for Sylva Town Commissioner that was held at the Old Courthouse.
There I saw the candidates and heard the answers to the questions posed to them. Of the four candidates running, there is only one that I feel comfortable to vote for. Let me explain.
The two incumbents, Mary Gelbaugh and Barbara Hamilton, recently voted in favor of a 1.5% increase of the property taxes for the residents of Sylva. Mind you, they did this while the county tax evaluations were still in flux but were expected to increase significantly. As the property values of the town are based on the evaluation by the county, these two incumbents voted for a tax increase without truly knowing what the tax base ultimately was to be. Indeed, one member of the town council proposed several reasonable courses of action to postpone such a vote until the tax base could be ascertained, but these were rejected by these two incumbents and two other members of the board.
The third candidate, Ms. Carrie McBane, ran for the town council in 2019. In that election her campaign was sponsored by and financially supported by an organization named Down Home North Carolina, which touts itself to be a “grassroots” organization. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the funding for this “grassroots” organization comes not only from out of state but even from out of region. Ms. McBane states that she has severed ties with this organization, but in her opening statement at this forum and several times within the answers to questions, she mentioned Down Home and her work with them. I am opposed to outside money being pumped into local elections. I do not know if that is the case in this election, but I am still a bit gun shy from the last one when it was.
The fourth candidate is Natalie Newman. I do not know her that well, but in the few conversations that I have had with her, I find her to be a smart, thoughtful and astute young woman. I am pretty sure that there are probably plenty of issues that she and I may not agree on, but my impression of her is that she is forthcoming and honest, and will listen to my concerns. I will give her the chance. She has my vote.
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If there is any hope for Sylva, it rests with this new generation of brilliant, enterprising adults like Natalie Newman!