District 9 candidates square off at Macon Road forum

benw@ledger-enquirer.comApril 4, 2014 

In the race for Columbus Council District 9, incumbent Judy Thomas touted her experience Friday while her challenger Felicia Hamilton said it’s time for new blood at a candidates forum on Macon Road.

Politics was on the menu at the 4261 Macon Road building where residents formerly turned out for a country buffet. In addition to Thomas and Hamilton, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Councilor Evelyn “Mimi” Woodson of District 7 made campaign pitches at the event sponsored by Advance Columbus and the Courier newspaper. The local elections are May 20.

When asked to note the differences between the candidates, Thomas pointed to her experience in city government and said she knows how to get things done. She served as the administrative assistant to former Mayor Jim Wetherington before stepping down to run for the at-large council seat in 2010. “I don’t always know the answer but I do know who does know the answer,” she said.

By working in the mayor’s office and serving as a councilor, Thomas said she knows how things work in city government.

“I think that would be one big difference between us is my experience,” she said.

Hamilton made it clear that she is not like her opponent.

“For me the biggest difference is I absolutely do not represent the status quo,” she said. “This is a new time. It is time for new ideas, new thought processes, new blood. It’s also time for someone to bridge the gap between those who have already been there and done that and those who are seeking to do it. I believe I represent that bridge.”

Thomas, a former elementary school teacher, said she would give herself an incomplete on her first term.

“There is still a lot of things I feel like I need to work on to continue to make happen for our city,” she said. “I think there are a number of things that I have accomplished that I’m proud of as a councilor. There are some things I have not accomplished that I’m very disappointed in myself that I didn’t do what I needed to be done perhaps to do that. At this point I think it is an incomplete and that given time to complete the tasks, I’m looking for an A.”

The at-large councilor said she is most proud of jealously guarding the other Local Option Sales Tax that was supported by Wetherington to fund 70 percent public safety and 30 percent roads and bridges.

Thomas also said she has been accessible. “If you call me, I will talk with you then or call you back,” she said.

Hamilton was asked what initiatives she would accomplish to provide hope to those without a voice if she’s elected.

With a crowd of about 75 at the forum, Hamilton recognized three young women whom she has been mentoring for the last five years. The owner of two Columbus businesses said she has been helping young people with an interest in politics and business.

Not afraid to get her hands dirty, Hamilton said she started a business from the bottom up with no help, no resources, no grants or support.

“You have to be tenacious in what you are going after and what you are seeking,” she said. “We live in the best city in America and we can go after the growth and progress that no other city in America can catch us.”

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