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"What is there to stay here in High Point
for?" Lovejoy said. "Let's give people something to get excited about."
Smothers said the City Council was "roundly criticized" for buying a building on Idol Drive that now holds the JobLink Career Center and the local branch of the NC Employment Security Commission.
Smother said studies have shown alarmingly low levels of education among High Point
high school graduates. She said, "High Point
has gotten shafted on education and the public schools, and you better believe it."
Members of the audience grilled the candidates for more details on how High Point
can improve education.
Whitley said the City Council can promote parent and volunteer involvement in schools. "It has to start at the elementary level, and it's not just sports," he said. He also said he has the support of Guilford County Board of Education member Ed Price.
Sims said High Point
has the highest percentage of students in private schools in Guilford County. "That impacts our ability, sometimes, to deliver the services we need for our kids."
Moore said the City Council and private companies should lean on the school board.
"If I had a magic wand, I'd bring back the High Point
City Schools," he said. "I think, in the expansion, we've lost quite a bit."
Squires said High Point
schools should re-emphasize training for trades such as mechanic and electrician. He said, "Everyone won't go to college."
Most of the candidates said they want to make it easier to start businesses in High Point
. Williard repeated an assertion that he gets building permits in Dallas and Atlanta faster than in High Point
Smothers said that 13,000 new jobs have been announced in High Point
since 2006, and cited several companies that have moved here during her tenure as mayor.
Thomas gave the ward candidates one minute apiece.
Ward 6 candidate Jason Ewing, a real estate broker, cited his business experience and said High Point
needs a more business-friendly image.
Ward 1 candidate Willie Davis said he is all for economic development, but that High Point
has to be more careful before handing out economic incentives. He called for cleaning up neighborhoods and improving police protection.
"My main concern for High Point
is to move forward," Davis said. "We can't stay where we are."
Ward 1 candidate Jeff Golden said he has started two nonprofits that help children, sits on the High Point
Parks and Recreation Commission and supports a small-business incubator. He, too, called for more training for trades in schools.
Ward 4 candidate Jay Wagner cited his experience on the High Point
Planning and Zoning Commission, the City Project and the Uptowne High Point
Association. He said of the City Project, "We've had great success through that organization that I hope we can continue as a city."
Ward 3 candidate and former High Point
Mayor Judy Mendenhall said High Point
needs public transportation to where jobs are, and criticized other candidates for making it sound as if they could change High Point
alone. She said the City Council is a team effort. "It doesn't do any good to be a maverick," she said – a jab at her opponent, Councilmember Mike Pugh.
Ward 1 candidate Mary Lou Blakeney said she will advocate for senior citizens if elected.
"I'm very concerned about those," she said. "Seniors are living longer, needing more services, so we need to do something about that. You can go into the schools and volunteer, so don't sit at home and complain about the schools."
Ward 1 candidate Larry Diggs said High Point
has unrealized potential, and called for public transportation to the new commercial areas of northeast High Point
. "People that don't drive can't get there," he said. "Because we don't have bus service out there."
Ward 3 incumbent Pugh said he would convene a "blue-ribbon" panel of business experts already in High Point
to study how to attract businesses. He also said, "As a councilmember, you need to stay in touch with the people."
Ward 1 candidate Orrick Quick said he would fight to end homelessness and hopelessness in Ward 1.
"We've got to focus on our youth," he said. "They will go down the drain if we don't do something."