Finley, Karlapalem field forum’s Q&A, Trulock absent
MADISON – Candidates for mayor of Madison in the Aug. 23 municipal election had the opportunity to discuss their platforms at the Tennessee Valley Republican Club’s forum on Aug. 23.
Candidates Paul Finley and Hanu Karlapalem answered questions from the audience gathered at the Best Western Plus. The city’s current mayor, Troy Trulock, did not attend.
* Question: The last two city councils have raised taxes. Are you going to make this three times in a row?
* Karlapalem: “My focus is going to be on expanding the revenue base, not tax increases. I will focus on helping small businesses.”
* Finley: “No, we do not plan on raising taxes. When (the council was) talking about the three percent increase on gas tax, council didn’t know that a surplus was available, because the mayor did not turn in a mid-season budget.”
* Question: What will you do about the police chief and fire chief’s employment?
* Karlapalem: “We need to look at bigger picture. I agree with rank and file of police department that we need to look at (the situation). Since 2009, 80 officers have left the force. We owe it to the wonderful people of Madison Police Department to look into this. I will find out reasons why these things have been happening. I want a third-party private agency from outside to look into the problem.”
* Finley: “Council members had to ask the mayor at a council meeting about what is going on with the fire and police chief. A decision can be made by the mayor about the police chief. There’s no legal reason not to. The mayor is the only person who has all of the data — personnel files and other data.”
* Question: Does the city need to build a $23 million recreation center or only a good pool?
* Hanu: “We need to prioritize things. We have to make sure that this project doesn’t become a money pit. That’s the key.”
* Finley: “How many people actually know what’s going on? Very few. The mayor’s responsibility is to lead projects. Until we can see a pro forma (financial documents), who is going to run it and how long with this agreement? With all data gathered, we need to have community meetings to present the facts. We’re no where close to knowing if it’s good or not.”
* Question: What sets you apart from current mayor Troy Trulock?
* Karlapalem: “My opponents are the same mold. Citizens tell me they are the ‘same old – same old.’ I am the only candidate that can apply my vision: accountability, unity, ethics and leadership. I am not in the pocket of special interest groups. I am paying for my own campaign.”
* Finley: “A person can walk into my office (when I’m mayor) and tell me what he or she believes or doesn’t believe. I will have an open door policy for the mayor’s office. Our mayor now doesn’t believe in working with city council. We will lead this city and not be afraid to leave fingerprints (on projects). We take great pride in accomplishments that benefit quality of life.”
* Question: What will you do about the water plant project that is affecting property values at Edgewater?
* Hanu: “I’m proposing neighborhood meetings to stay aware of decisions that affect property values.”
* Finley: “It’s frustrating because the damage was done by Madison Utilities (not a city department). As a mayor, you struggle because Madison Utilities’ general manager doesn’t work for the city.”