Enquirer Herald

Candidates spar on the big issues

YORK -- Democratic state Rep. Dennis Moss and Republican challenger Danny Stacy agree on a number of key issues, from the need to drill for oil off the S.C. coast to the importance of fighting North Carolina's efforts to take more water from the Catawba River.

Maybe their shared views should come as no surprise, given that Moss jokes about how people in Columbia often mistake him for a Republican.

But the two candidates also disagree sharply on other topics. Their duel highlighted a western York County candidates forum last week at Cotton Belt Elementary School.

Few issues burn hotter than school vouchers, which help parents send their children to private schools as a way of creating competition. Stacy is open to the idea. Moss opposes it.

"My opponent calls me a voucher candidate," Stacy told an audience of about 30 people. "That's all he can talk about. I will look at anything on the table to improve education. Let's put everything on the table and give it a good, honest debate."

Moss voiced support for York County's efforts to prevent North Carolina from withdrawing more water from the Catawba River. He said the recent drought illustrates the need to maintain a reliable water supply.

"A lot of it's left up to the Good Lord," said Moss. "We've had good rain the last few weeks. But we can't depend on that. Every county needs a water source."

Other candidates also shared their views. Marvin Rogers is running for the state House District 49 seat being vacated by the retiring Bessie Moody-Lawrence. His opponent, Democrat John King, was unable to attend due to a family matter.

As a Republican, Rogers says he'll enjoy access to the state's most powerful lawmakers -- and can use it to bring resources to District 49. Republicans control the Legislature and governor's office.

"He seems to think he's going to have a lot of authority to get things done as a freshman member of the minority party," Rogers said of King. "Should he win, it's going to be a rude awakening."

The hostility between County Councilman Joe Cox and York Mayor Eddie Lee deepened during their tense 30-minute encounter.

Instead of focusing solely on the S.C. 5 Bypass widening project, Cox wants to press forward with several road improvements, including on Sutton Springs Road. The key is balance, Cox said.

"It's kind of like milking a cow," said Cox, a Republican. "There's four teats underneath that cow. You don't just grab one and stay with it."

Lee made clear that widening the bypass is his top priority. Currently, the bypass project is slated for completion in 2010 or 2011.

"If I'm on the County Council, we're going to widen the bypass," he said. "You're going to get what you paid for. We need to honor that commitment."

The candidates agree on the need to lift the county's longtime ban on Sunday alcohol sales. Voters will get the chance to do that in a referendum that appears on the Nov. 4 ballot.