City of Monroe District 5 candidate Adriane Brown (left) listens to District 7 candidate Greg Thompson answer a question during Monday’s Chamber of Commerce forum. Cassie Jones photo | MAK Photography
Greg Thompson and Adriane Brown had plenty of elbow room on the candidate stage Monday night. The two were the lone candidates in contested races who took part in a forum hosted by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce.
Neither Garrett nor Thompson’s opponent, Vivian Henson, attended the forum. Thompson made it known his thoughts on their no show Monday night.
“These positions are too important not to be here,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he did not know why his opponent was not there but he repeatedly stressed candidates owe it to the voters to let them know where they stand. Thompson also took Garrett to task even though they are running for different seats.
“I am not sure what Mr. Garrett has done all the years he’s been on the council,” Thompson, a former City of Monroe mayor, said.
Thompson and Brown talked to the small crowd about why they felt they were the best candidates for the seats they were running for.
Thompson has been a Monroe resident his entire life. He owns and operates John’s Supermarket. He served 12 years as mayor and another six on the council.
“I love this city,” Thompson said. “One of my main goals is to create higher paying jobs.”
Brown has been a Monroe resident for 12 years and said “housing” was her key issue. “I want to hopefully lower taxes and bring in new housing that is affordable,” she said.
Thompson spoke of Monroe now being a destination city. He said Monroe’s Fall Festival drew thousands of people on Saturday.
“15 years ago there might have been 200 people,” Thompson said.
Brown said the City of Monroe and Walton County leaders need to work together on all issues from affordable, safe housing to traffic.
“We can have a better relationship by sitting at the table together and speaking to each other,” Brown said.
Thompson said 30% of Monroe residents live below the poverty line.
“A large percentage of that is people who do not work but who are able to work,” Thompson said. “We need to change that mindset but it won’t happen overnight. That’s why I want to bring higher paying jobs to help that.”
Chamber of Commerce officials said Garrett did not respond to requests about the forum. Henson told Chamber officials none of the proposed dates worked with her schedule.
The Walton Tribune has endorsed Thompson and Brown in their respective races.
District 1 incumbent Lee Malcom is unopposed this year but was in the audience at Monday’s forum as was Julie Sams, who is running unopposed for District 4.
Early voting began Monday.