COLUMBUS — Several audience member expressed disgust at Thursday night's Columbus Chamber of Commerce "Meet the Candidates" event, as only one candidate — Gary Smith who is running unopposed for Columbus City Council — bothered to show up.
All the candidates had agreed to the debate, but only Smith came, Barbara Capron notified the chamber she would be unable to attend prior to the event.
Ward 1 candidates Joyce Begando and Dale Burton, Ward 2 candidates Nick Lucian, and David Morrison and Ward 5 candidate Doug Hosier all failed to attend.
Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Mel Greene said he was disappointed in the candidates in a letter to the editor received by the CCNA on Friday morning.
"This was very disappointing and I am very very upset and embarrassed because the Chamber of Commerce did this as a service to the Community so we as voting Citizens of The City of Columbus could listen to the candidates as they answered questions we as citizens furnished to these candidates to answer and we could make up our mind which candidate could best represent us on the City Council and we could vote accordingly," Greene said in the letter.
Smith said during questioning he would like to see changes to the Columbus City Government.
"'ve stated that before in several meetings," he said. "I'm for a city manager.
"I do feel that 10 councilmen is too many councilmen. I would like to see the council entertain ... maybe going with a five council, city manager form of government."
Smith said a city manager, with the authority to hire and fire employees and with only five council members to report to would be more efficient.
"You can't get 10 people to all agree on anything," he said.
He also said he would "absolutely" be willing to make a decision which would cost him an election if he thought it was the right thing to do.
Smith told the crowd he would like to see economic development in Columbus.
"I have a lot of ideas for the city," he said. "All of them are improvement. I'd like to see the downtown area to be improved."
Additionally, Smith said he was in favor of replacing the the Columbus Unified High School football stadium, if it could be done in a "reasonable" way, but he was not in favor of a large athletic complex.
"These complexes are really nice and everybody would like to have them," Smith said. "But we need to be realistic ... going to a large athletic complex, I don't know if I could support that."
The city elections are scheduled for April 3.