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WHQR will host and broadcast four candidate forums as part of the 2012 Election Season in the MC Erny Gallery, 254 N. Front Street, #300.Each forum will feature two local journalists asking prepared questions during the first half of the event. The second portion will be dedicated to questions from voters. A live studio audience will be invited to ask questions during this segment. We'll also use questions sent in from listeners.If you have a question for the candidates, please email us (newsdirector@whqr.org) or submit via Twitter with the #whqrforums hash tag and tell us which slate of candidates you'd like to address. We reserve the right to edit the questions for clarity, brevity, and objectivity. Each question must be addressed to all candidates in a particular race. If you can't attend the live event, Tweet along while you tune in or listen or watch the webcast online at 7 PM each night to hear the candidates! (WWAY will also broadcast the forums live on Time Warner Cable. RTV is channel 106, on ATMC, channel 903, on Charter Cable, channel 145 and over-the-air at 3.2.)Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7 PM- New Hanover County CommissionersJonathan Barfield (Current Vice Chairman)Beth DawsonRobert MurrayDr. Derrick HickeyWoody WhiteRob Zapple Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 PM- NC House District 18Representative Susi Hamilton (D)Louis Harmati (R) Monday, Oct. 8, 7 PM - NC Senate District 9Senator Thom Goolsby (R)Deb Butler (D) Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 PM - NC House District 19 & NC House District 20 NC House District 19Ted Davis, Jr. (Current NHC Commission Chair)Emilie Swearingen (Current Kure Beach Councilwoman)NC House District 20Rick Catlin (Current NHC Commissioner) (R)Tom Gale (D)

NHC Commissioner Candidates reveal positions on a publicly-funded ballpark at Candidate Forum

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Economic development was the focus at last night’s forum for New Hanover County Commission candidates.

The forum was held at the WHQR Gallery and hosted by the Cape Fear Economic Development Council. WHQR’s Sara Wood reports candidates were asked about an issue the current commission has kept quiet about --- baseball.

For the past year, baseball’s been one of Wilmington’s main focuses.  But New Hanover County has kept mum about the potential riverfront stadium.  Star News reporter Tricia Vance asked county commission candidates how they felt about the stadium and whether or not the county should have some skin in the game. 

Current commission Vice Chairman Jonathan Barfield didn’t say if he’d support a publicly-funded stadium. But he says after seeing the effects of the Bulls on downtown Durham, it would be a perfect way to lower the tax base and stimulate job growth in the county.

“In every dollar that we spend in county government, it’s taxpayer money.  I hear people talk about taxpayer money all the time, it’s all taxpayer money. We don’t get money from our sales, we use taxpayer money to do what we do in county government.  And this is part of economic development.  And companies are looking for assets or things for their employees to do when they come to a community."

Republican Candidate Woody White says while the county can’t say no to everything, he does not support the stadium.  He says the government has to get back to the basics.

“And government doesn’t exist to build sporting facilities in my opinion.  We have to deliver safe and clean water, we have to protect our citizens with firemen and police officers.  We have to do the basic social services that we know why government exists.” 

Democratic candidate Robert Murray believes bringing baseball to the region would be good for the economy, but not if it’s publicly-funded. 

“I fully support a baseball field, I have enjoyed baseball all my life, I have played baseball all my life. I think it should be privately-funded. I don’t think it should be built on the taxpayer’s back.”

Three Republicans and three Democrats are running for the three open seats on the commission.  Voters will decide in November who will fill those seats.