Can­di­dates de­bate is­sues prior to Ox­ford runoff elec­tion

Davis and Gaither dis­cuss city’s fu­ture

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

What started out as an op­por­tu­nity for the Ox­ford Coun­cil Post 1 can­di­dates Amma Gaither and Frank Davis to dis­tin­guish them­selves in the eyes of their vot­ers at a Tues­day night fo­rum quickly turned into a plat­form for res­i­dents in Ox­ford to voice their ob­jec­tion to plans to de­velop the Cov­ing­ton Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port.

Hosted by the New­ton County NAACP and mod­er­ated by Ox­ford res­i­dent Claude Sit­ton, the fo­rum, held in the Ox­ford Com­mu­nity Room, was at­tended by ap­prox­i­mately 25 res­i­dents.

In­cum­bent Gaither, who is run­ning for a sec­ond four-year term on the coun­cil, em­pha­sized her par­tic­i­pa­tion in street clean­ing projects and her po­si­tion as chair­per­son of the Ox­ford His­tor­i­cal Ceme­tery So­ci­ety where she said she has worked to have a me­mo­rial ded­i­cated to early black res­i­dents of Ox­ford buried in the ceme­tery.

Gaither, who was the qui­eter of the two can­di­dates Tues­day night, re­sponded to what she said were ques­tions on why she doesn’t speak of­ten at coun­cil meet­ings.

“Just be­cause I don’t say much does not mean I don’t know much,” Gaither said. “It means I’m lis­ten­ing.”

Davis em­pha­sized his po­si­tion as chair­per­son of the Ox­ford Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for the past four years as well as his mem­ber­ship on the His­tor­i­cal Ceme­tery So­ci­ety. Davis said he would also work to bring a Home­stead Tax Ex­emp­tion to home­own­ers in the city if he were elected.

Vir­gil Eady, who has been nom­i­nated to take Mayor Elect Jerry Rose­berry’s seat on the coun­cil, asked the can­di­dates what they would do to guard against the fur­ther en­croach­ment of land uses (dis­taste­ful in the eyes of many Ox­ford res­i­dents) by the city of Cov­ing­ton on Ox­ford’s borders.

“We’re not a three-legged stepchild over here,” Eady said.

Davis re­sponded by sug­gest­ing that Ox­ford an­nex land on its borders as a means of keep­ing cer­tain land uses at bay.

“I don’t think Cov­ing­ton should be able to do what­ever they want to on our borders,” Davis said.

Gaither said she was against the de­vel­op­ment of Cov­ing­ton’s air­port for “ safety rea­sons.”

Asked by Ox­ford res­i­dent Vi­vian Har­ris what could be done to close the La­farge Ag­gre­gate as­phalt plant which lies just out­side the city’s bound­aries Davis an­swered not much.

“We re­ally have no con­trol over it,” Davis said. “ It’s in the county, and they do what they jolly well please over there.”

Both can­di­dates said they were in fa­vor of mov­ing for­ward with plans to build a new city hall and a mu­nic­i­pal court­room. Both can­di­dates said they were in fa­vor of a very lim­ited form of de­vel­op­ment in the form of a town cen­ter. Nei­ther can­di­date is in fa­vor of large-scale com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment in the town.

When asked how they would pay for the new mu­nic­i­pal build­ings, Davis said the city might have to look at rais­ing its mileage rate. Gaither said she had no sug­ges­tions for how the city could in­crease its rev­enue stream but added that she was against rais­ing the city’s mileage rate.

Re­spond­ing to an­other ques­tion on how they would go about en­forc­ing the city’s or­di­nances as it re­lates to pub­lic nui­sances, Davis re­sponded that he would use the city’s four-per­son po­lice de­part­ment to is­sue tick­ets to res­i­dences with junk cars on their prop­erty. Gaither said she was in fa­vor of em­ploy­ing a part-time code en­force­ment of­fi­cer to is­sue ci­ta­tions.

Davis and Gaither came in first and sec­ond place re­spec­tively in the Ox­ford Coun­cil Post 1 three-way race on Nov. 7. Ox­ford res­i­dent Kelly El­lis came in third race. Be­cause no can­di­date gar­nered 51 per­cent of the vote, a runoff elec­tion must be held be­tween the two top can­di­dates.

The date of Gaither and Davis’s runoff elec­tion is Dec. 4. Vot­ing will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Com­mu­nity Room, ad­ja­cent to the Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment on Emory Street.

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