Millennium Charter Academy hosted a mayoral debate for its students in grades six through ten Tuesday morning with the two candidates running for the Mount Airy mayor’s post on hand to answer questions.
David Rowe, a former member of the Mount Airy Board of Education and Steve Yokeley, a city commissioner now serving as mayor pro tem, are seeking the office.
Eighth grade students at the school last week began thinking of questions to submit for the two candidates. After screened by the staff, 18 questions were selected to ask both candidates during the debate. However, only 9 of the 18 were asked due to time constraints.
Questions included hot topic subjects in the community such as redevelopment, water and sewer infrastructure and developing the downtown area.
Both candidates expressed their support for redevelopment.
Rowe expressed his concerns for the properties he feared were being threatened by eminent domain. “I believe people have the right to keep what they have worked hard for, its our right as an American.”
Yokeley responded, “Unfortunately, I believe there has been a lot of misconception about the plan,” as he claimed it is not the intention of city officials to take the properties from the owners for redevelopment.
Another question revolved around what the two candidates would do for the future. “Is there anything you’d to attract and keep young people to Mount Airy?” asked Kathlyn Mauck.
Rowe expressed how he wants to endorse local schools, establish downtown facilities to attract young people and respond to what the younger generation wants. Yokeley expressed his concern about retaining young people in Mount Airy. “We have to better the environment,” meaning the recreational facilities, the green way, attracting jobs that complement existing business, and overall “create better spaces.”
Olivia Hudson referred to a article recently published by The Mount Airy News stating that the number of people dependant on government assistance is at all-time highs in the country. “How do you plan to help get the people out of the system?” she asked.
Yokeley first answered, “I don’t believe it’s our role in government — it should be left up to private funding and the generous individuals in Surry County.” Rowe, agreed with Yokeley’s response adding, “We should work on addressing the why.”
Closing statements were made by the candidates.
Yokeley, “We need to remember our paths but plan for the future for a better place to live, work and play.”
Rowe stated, “I am a man of integrity, I am an honest, compassionate leader.”
Throughout the debate, both Rowe and Yokeley complimented the students on the questions. “These are questions that needed to be answered,” said Rowe.
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or on Twitter @MtAiryNewsEva