Mayoral hopefuls weigh in

FAIRMONT — Incumbent Debbie Foster and challenger Jeff Weber, candidates for Fairmont mayor, answered a wide spectrum of questions Wednesday at a candidate forum at City Hall, with both contenders sharing similar opinions on most subjects.

One of the latest hot-button issues is the proposed community center, its location and funding sources.

“It needs to be in the forefront,” said Foster, who is finishing her second year as mayor. “We need to listen to people very carefully. We need to go looking for facts. The biggest facts are the operating expenses.”

Weber, who previously served on the Fairmont City Council, said he supports some type of community center, but he too wants more information.

“There’s a lot of concerns from people in the community,” he said.

A few of the questions concentrated on Fairmont’s parks, from the determination of which ones get funding to adding a campground.

“I’m old enough to remember when we did have camping at Gomsrud Park,” Weber said. “I don’t know why it was stopped, but if there’s interest there, let’s go for it. When you see something, talk. It can’t be fixed if nobody knows about it.”

The addition of a campground in the city has been brought up a number of times, Foster said, and she has given a personal promise to a friend to work toward such a project.

“If you have concerns, call a City Council member or me,” said Foster, encouraging dialogue on any topic of importance to Fairmont residents.

A social host ordinance that would hold adults responsible for underage alcohol consumption on their property, proposed by the Martin County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, drew strong emotional support from both candidates. Foster lost an adult daughter to alcoholism, while Weber has an adult son who struggles with heroin and meth addiction.

Both also agreed that the shortage of child care is one of the top issues facing the community and the area, saying it would be difficult to attract young families to Fairmont if they have no child care options available.