About 50 residents turned out to the Elkins High School Auditorium Tuesday to attend - and take part in - an Elkins Municipal Election candidate forum hosted by The Inter-Mountain.
All the candidates in each of the election's contested races participated, answering questions posed to them by moderator Heather Goodwin Henline, publisher/general manager of The Inter-Mountain, and by the audience.
Three candidates are seeking the Elkins mayoral seat - incumbent Duke Talbott, Van T. Broughton and Mark D. Scott.
Incumbent Charles G. Kinnison and challenger Lonnie E. Randall both are seeking the Elkins City Council seat representing 1st Ward.
Both incumbent Nanci Bross-Fregonara and challenger Hollis C. Vance hope to win the election for 4th Ward's council seat.
Asked to list what they considered the biggest problems facing Elkins, most of the candidates mentioned drugs.
"The drug problem is too large for such a small town," Randall said. "Every day you read about pills and meth."
Several candidates also talked about cleaning up trash and old tires that have accumulated around Elkins. Scott said since the town's landfill closed, the city streets themselves have in effect become the town's dumping place.
Though all the candidates were pleasant and good-natured throughout the forum, there was a spark of contention at one point. Answering an audience question about timber located near the closed city landfill, Scott quoted a price for a project at the landfill. Talbott disagreed, quoting a different price. Both men seemed a bit irritated by the other's insistence; neither raised his voice, but neither backed down.
Regardless of which candidate you think has the right answers, we urge Elkins residents to cast their ballots and make their voices heard in city politics.
Voters have the chance now to make their choices, as early voting is underway at Elkins City Hall, located at 401 Davis Avenue.
Early voting will be available from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, until March 1.
Early voting is also available from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. this Saturday and on March 2.
If you will be unable to vote early in person or on Election Day March 5, there is still time to request an absentee ballot. For information about absentee ballots, please call Elkins City Clerk Sutton Stokes at (304) 636-1414, ext. 1211.