Candidates for Greenville mayor square off in 2nd Tuesday debate - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Candidates for Greenville mayor square off in 2nd Tuesday debate

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From the very beginning, Mayor Allen Thomas, the incumbent in Greenville's mayoral race, says he's maintained a positive outlook.  When he came into office in 2011 he and the newly elected council shook things up.

"We did raise the bar in some areas and there were some changes," he said. "Looking back at it, I think many times change is very much for the good for the city of Greenville."

Driven by economic development, the Mayor pushed for change. "We weren't spending money for our ditches or for other infrastructure. At some point you have to realize rather than counting dollars, I can't recruit a company if they can't drive here." Allen said.

In October 2012 he and the council also raised the amount of people who could live in single family homes near East Carolina University's campus, an issue that has become the center of controversy.

"We had gang activity. Whatever they (previous councils) were doing was not working. We had to do something."

But many disagree with the Mayor's approach, including his challenger Tom Best. "I'm not aware of any gang filled houses in that area."

Best, a retired IBM employee and past chair of a neighborhood task force, suggests the community didn't need a new ordinance; the old ones just needed enforcement.

"It's up to the landlord to police that, it shouldn't be up to the city," Best said.

Mayor Thomas views his leadership as more proactive, at times working 50-60 hours a week, which Best cites as a flaw.

"We are a council-manager style government. We are not a mayor-council. There is a difference," he said. "I'm not running for city manager I'm running for the mayor's position."

Best's comments spark up a discussion about the role of Greenville's mayor. City Councilmember Calvin Mercer persuaded Best to run for mayor. He accuses current Mayor Thomas of inappropriately using his power.

"This is how we are going to do it and it is my way or the highway. Well that's what's gone on in this city council," Best said.

Mayor Thomas has been on the other side of controversy. On high profile issues, he and 3 other council members usually agree, while members like Marion Blackburn and Mercer fall to the minority.

"I'm going to be extremely supportive of working with all," Best said.

The mayor says the polarizing isn't healthy. "It's ok to have the public discourse. That's what an elective body is supposed to do." Instead Thomas wants compromise and cooperation. "Every day the goal is to move it forward with progress and we have to have every council member involved. I will never stop that effort. I didn't stop day 1 when we came in office. I didn't stop 2 months ago when I sided with Calvin and Marion on a vote to help them get something that Marion thought was very important against other members of council."

But Best says that kind of compromise isn't good either. "If you vote for this, I'll vote for that even though I'd never vote for it. But if you support me, I'll support you. That's what's going on I believe."

A second Greenville mayoral debate took place at the Brook Valley Country Club Tuesday. Early voting in Greenville begins Thursday.

--- Original Story ---

Things got a little heated at the mayoral debate in Greenville Tuesday night.    

Mayor Allen Thomas's link to the sweepstakes industry and his opponent Tom Best's campaign slogan took center stage.

"I'm not involved in any type of gambling business of any kind and I'm going to take those kinds of risks,” said Tom Best, replying to a question from the moderator.

“Well, I guess Tom and I have something in common,” agreed Allen Thomas. “Neither one of us gamble with our future or are involved in gambling. What I'm definitely not involved negative campaigning.”

Thomas served as a consultant for a company working to create software to regulate and enforce the internet sweepstakes industry.
He says he forfeited all of his shares when he decided to run for mayor.
Other topics focused on the city's plan for re-development, pay raises to City Council, and lawsuits involving the city
The candidates also addressed the un-related housing rule.
Best says he'd revisit the issue if elected.

Watch the debate on our Youtube page by clicking here.
  • Web Poll

  • After watching our series on the Greenville mayoral candidates, who are you planning to support?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Allen Thomas
    136 votes
    Tom Best
    68 votes
    8 votes
  • Candidates for Greenville mayor square off in 2nd Tuesday debate
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