Mayoral candidate Toomey gets dual roles at chamber election forumToomey was the chief petitioner in the effort to reverse a City Council decision to turn Second, Third and Fourth avenues into two-way streets.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The six candidates for mayor will get a chance to speak during a Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce forum next month. One of the candidates, Jerry Toomey, will get two turns in the spotlight.
While all six candidates — John Claggett, Roger Haley, Becky Haslam, Toomey, Ken Tracy and Tara Volesky — will speak and field questions during the mayoral forum May 8, Toomey will also speak during the May 15 forum, when the issue of converting three one-way streets to two-way traffic will be debated.
Toomey was the chief petitioner in the effort to reverse a City Council decision to turn Second, Third and Fourth avenues into two-way streets. He favors retaining the one-way designation on the streets.
He said last fall the issue, among others, had him considering a run for mayor.
He said the chamber called him and asked him to select a speaker, and when he spoke with others involved in the campaign, they felt he had done the most research and was the most-qualified
“I’m not a debater, I have never done it before, but I will do it,” Toomey said.
Sonya Moller, the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce’s director of operations, said the chamber did not choose the speakers. It asked the proponents of both sides to select their representative.
“It was absolutely up to them to decide who they want to speak,” Moller said. “All I can say is the chamber is here to set up a forum for the public so they are well informed.”
Toomey said if the other mayoral candidates want to speak at the forum on the streets, he would welcome them to the debate.
“If they want to be involved, I have no problem with it,” he said. “I think people should have a right to express their opinion.”
Four of the other five mayoral candidates offered no objection.
Haley said he’s not sure what the impact will be if Toomey is allowed to speak twice, as is now scheduled.
“Whether it would hurt him or help him, I don’t know,” Haley said. “I don’t have any major problem with it. No big deal, but I’ve talked to a couple of people, and they said maybe they should ask someone else.”
Claggett said he noticed the dual appearances in The Daily Republic story on the forums in Tuesday’s paper.
“It doesn’t bother me that he does that,” Claggett said. “It’s kind of a different deal. It is kind of unusual, but it doesn’t give me any heartburn.”
Volesky said it is fine with her.
“I really don’t have a problem with it,” she said. “It’d be nice to have the other candidates invited.”
Volesky said she would like to see a forum sponsored by Mitchell Main Street & Beyond to discuss the economic future of downtown.”
Haslam, who has known Toomey most of her life and played at his home as a child, said she doesn’t mind his dual role.
“I guess I don’t have a problem with it,” she said. “I know he’s lived on Second Street for years. Jerry has been involved with this issue.” Tracy, however, said he objects. “I think he is getting an unfair advantage over the other candidates,” he said. “I would think they could find someone else to represent the one-way street advocates.” The election is scheduled for June 5.