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Coffee and conversation with the candidates


Town Council candidates get up close and personal with voters

By Christie Barlow
[email protected]

Visitors to Rocky River Coffee Co. got a little more than just their morning coffee last weekend.

On Saturday, coffee drinkers had the chance to chat one-on-one with candidates in the Harrisburg Town Council race.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Joe Hallatschek, Rhonda Poppen, Jeffrey Redfern, Bob Scaggs and Bill Williams were on hand at Rocky River Coffee Co. to answer questions and get to know their voters.

The idea stemmed from Rocky River Coffee Co. owner Dave Damone and candidates Poppen and Hallatschek. Organizers were hoping to provide a non-threatening, comfortable environment where both the candidates and voters could interact in a more stress-free setting, Damone said.

While opportunities like the forum at Hibernian Hall help candidates address the issues, a meeting at Rocky River Coffee Co. allows both voters and candidates to get rid of some of the nerves and be themselves, Poppen said.

“I encourage more people to come out because this is an opportunity to meet the candidates and get to know them,” Damone said. “This is your chance. This is an opportunity I think people have to take advantage of to ask the questions you want answered.”

The event allowed visitors a chance to voice their concerns over some of the issues that haven’t been addressed yet, said Scaggs. While the larger issues, like the direction the town is headed, have been addressed, this event gave residents the chance to get candidates’ stance on smaller personal issues, Scaggs said.

Lloyd Quay, a member of the Planning & Zoning board, attended the meeting to get a better understanding of where the candidates are coming from. While he was disappointed by the turnout from the town, Quay did think the meeting was positive for those who attended.

“It takes away the distance between Town Council (and residents),” Quay said. “They’re not up on a pedestal. They’re on the same level as the person they’re talking to. They become less of an official or candidate and more of a person. It brings (the candidates) more into their space.”

While voters got the chance to voice their concerns, the candidates used the casual meeting to act as a sounding board and to let voters see who they really are. For Williams, it was a chance to sit back and listen to the concerns of the community, he said. Williams, who called the event “very effective,” said that all parties, including the candidates involved, walked away with a better understanding of the people and the candidates.

“For the ones that came out, they came away with a great feeling about all of the candidates,” Williams said. “Whatever happens in the election, I think the Town Council’s going to be in good hands.”

Candidates called the event a success, but are hoping that even more voters come out to the next “Meet the Candidates” event at Rocky River Coffee Co.  on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Kirk Angel, also a candidate for Harrisburg Town Council, could not attend the event because of a previous engagement.

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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