Clarkston Candidates Hold Forum


On November 7th, voters will decide on various races. In Clarkston Thursday night, four candidates running for seats on the city council held a session to tell residents their platforms and answer questions.

"The fire department and the police department, that we keep them funded and that we keep them locally here."

That's the issue Laura Berglund says is the most pressing for both her and the city.

"In my family, several times we have used the fire department, and if they were not close, it would have been a different outcome,” said Berglund.

The four city council candidates recognized the importance of funding first responders.

John Murray, Melyssa Andrews, Kelly Blackmon, and Russ Evans laid out their viewpoints in front of Clarkston voters tonight. Almost all agreed that a solution to fire department funding is their top priority if elected.

"I don't believe in skimping on the fire department or the police department," said Evans.

“We need a fully staffed fire department. My promise is to look for ways to fund it," Blackmon says.

“Fire department, police. I don’t want to see things underfunded. I want to see things improved or maintained. I do think there are ways to do it," Andrews added.

But while Andrews, Blackmon, and Evans agreed that funding the fire department is the way to go, John Murray said the city will likely have to consider another option.

“We will likely have to consider consolidating fire services with the county in the next five years," Murray says.

All of the candidates say funding will likely have to come from some sort of revenue increase for the city. Those forms of revenue increases could be bonds, levees, or even higher taxes. But Andrews, Blackmon, and Evans agree that raising taxes on residents will be beneficial for the city long term. Murray on the other hand says despite the small added time it may take county fire to arrive if the two departments were to consolidate, taxpayer money would be saved.

The four candidates, all conservative, agree that transparency is key.

“I am conservative by nature. So if elected, I'll push for more transparency in paying the bills in Clarkston," says Evans.

But still remaining transparent, the candidates agreed that the city's budget remains a concern, and that alternative sources of revenue need to be found.

There are still many more issues the candidates would like to address.

KLEW News plans on sitting down with each candidate in both county and city elections to speak with them about their platforms.

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