By Nathan Ham
Instead of the usual candidate’s forum that is hosted by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, the chamber went a different direction this election cycle to allow the four people running for Boone Town Council seats to explain why they are the best fit for the job.
This year, audio podcasts were recorded of each candidate answering nine questions. The podcasts, which are available to listen to any time, give people a chance to hear these candidates on their own time instead of having to tune into the radio simulcast or attend the forum at a certain time.
“We decided to go the podcast route which allowed candidates to have a little bit more time to speak. I think with the old format they had roughly 10 to 12 minutes worth of actual time to say anything. This time candidates averaged roughly 15 to 16 minutes of time to really get more into their stances on things,” said David Jackson, the President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jackson said other logistical issues also made it more convenient to produce the podcasts for this smaller slate of candidates.
“It was a little bit of a two-pronged issue. We typically simulcast the forum with WATA, but unfortunately Bill Fisher had a heart attack and he was the person that did all of that for us,” Jackson added.
When asked if this would become more of a tradition than the larger candidate’s forum, Jackson said he anticipated a return to the traditional forum setting next year, especially with more elections being held and a larger candidate pool.
“I think this may become an alternative that we can use as a complementary piece to that. We can have a candidate forum but do these podcasts more for the local races, I think that’s ultimately what people want to hear more about,” said Jackson.
Incumbent Loretta Clawson and three challengers, Virginia Roseman, Nancy LaPlaca and Dustin Hicks, are all vying for three spots on the Boone Town Council. Two current town council members, Marshall Ashcraft and Lynn Mason, chose not to seek reelection.
Clawson has served on the town council since 1997 and is the longest-serving member on the board. She has also been elected as Mayor of Boone and most recently serving as Mayor Pro Tem.
Roseman and her husband moved to Watauga County 22 years ago and wants to see Boone remain a great place for families to raise their children, which was the main reason she decided to make the move to the area.
LaPlaca has worked in some form of government for 40 years of her life in different parts of the country, including most recently North Carolina. She has spent most of her life working in the energy sector of government and holds a law degree.
Hicks is a sustainable development major student at Appalachian State and is originally from Wilkes County. He became inspired to run for office to tackle climate change issues and other problems such as affordable housing.
Boone Town Council Candidate Podcasts