Savannah community gathers for mayoral, at-large candidate forums

Savannah community gathers for mayoral, at-large candidate forums

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Candidate forums have taken place across the Coastal Empire all week as local elections inch closer and closer.

Thursday night, the community listened to mayoral and alderman at-large candidates for the City of Savannah speak at a forum to decide who they will vote for on Nov. 5.

At least 200 people gathered to hear from the candidates. All questions were sent in by voters themselves - some of which surprised the audience.

On the table were submitted questions from voters about council transparency, public safety, and environmental impact.

“I was really surprised to see how many environmental questions were asked, being that we live on the coast," said Cuffy Sullivan, Savannah. "Climate change really does have an impact on us, so that was interesting to see it come up where it hasn’t in previous forums.”

All four candidates running for mayor of Savannah focused their priorities on closing statements. Louis Wilson is retired from Chatham County law enforcement, and says he wants to improve the city.

“I have a 10-point platform on what I would do to make things better in Savannah,” he said. “I have all of my information in my bio and everything on my publication that is on the internet, and it will be in print.”

Regina Thomas, a former Georgia state senator, says the city is in debt, and that’s one of her main concerns.

“Are we ready and prepared? We do not want to stand on the backs of the taxpayers who are already overburdened and overtaxed," she said. “We need to make sure that we do a forensic audit. No man has gone in and had a forensic audit performed.”

Alderman Van Johnson says he wants to create more opportunities for Savannah’s workforce.

“I bring to you an opportunity for evening city council meetings so you can be involved in your government,” Johnson said. “I bring you to an affordable housing plan so we know what we need to do in terms of affordable housing. I bring to you a citywide plan to deal with homelessness in our community.”

Incumbent Mayor Eddie DeLoach says he is running off of his record and what he has done in the last four years.

“I’ve got 5,739 jobs in the last four years,” DeLoach said. “I’ve got $1.5 billion invested in this community from outside this community. We’ve got a 20 percent drop in poverty.”

The forum was a double header. Before the mayoral forum, candidates for alderman at-large posts 1 and 2 talked about similar issues, especially taxpayer money and how it’s being used through programs like SPLOST.

The League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia hosted Thursday night’s forums.

“When you get down to it, all politics is local. It matters who your city council person is, and it matters that you know them personally and get involved and they get involved with you," said Rebecca Rolfes, League of Women Voters. "This is a way to do that. This is a way to meet them and see who they are, and decide who’s the right person to run your city.”

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