Mayor's Race Heats up with "Civilized Fireworks"

'Civilized fireworks' is what one observer called it. We're just a week and half away from the city election, and the Mayor's race remains tense.

Thursday, four of the six people seeking the city's top political post went head-to-head at the Taylor Road Baptist Church in a forum organized by the Christian Coalition. The candidates fielded questions from the coalition on topics like personal integrity and background.

But things really started rolling when discussion turned to government funding, specifically about corporate tax breaks for Hyundai and the funding of the new downtown baseball stadium.

Candidate Scott Simmons says, "spending 26.5 milllion dollars on a new baseball stadium is almost twice what most cities spend on a baseball stadium. That doesn't include the amount of money that we'll probably spend above and beyond the budget, because these things usually do."

But Mayor Bright defended his investments, saying "accountability also is when you take that dollar and invest that dollar and get a return two and three times over. That's what we're doing with downtown."

Dorothy Frazier has other ideas. "I certainly would look at areas where we might be able to do some privatization and have some companies come in and work with us," she says.

But Glenn Henry believes in smaller government and lower taxes. "I know the mayor has put out the baseball stadium and he's done a great job on that. But my bit complaint with the mayor is that he's pushed so many new taxes."

Bright and Simmons really disagreed on the occupational tax. Bright says he'll put the idea to a vote of the people. Simmons said he absolutely opposed the tax. Henry says he's opposed to taxes in general. Frazier says she'd have to study the issue but would support a vote.

Two other candidates for mayor, Hersheil Mann and James Owens, were absent from the forum.

You have just a few days left to make your choice. The election is October 14th.