After two overwhelming victories in 2009 and 2013 in North Side district elections, independent incumbent Ezzard Miller is facing multiple challengers this year who appear to be questioning his ability to work with other elected politicians.
During a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored candidate forum Tuesday night, independent Justin Ebanks and Progressives party candidate Ed Chisholm were careful not to criticize Mr. Miller, but both mentioned how “approachable” they were and pledged to work with any government that is elected on May 24.
In his closing statement on the night, Mr. Miller sought to address the campaign against him.
“This campaign about me doing nothing for anyone, not being approachable or concerned with North Side is not based on facts,” Mr. Miller said. “I could easily dispute it by publicizing what I do, or what I did, and who I did it for, but that’s not my style. I have never turned anyone away from my house or refused to help any person.”
One of the questions from the audience of about 50 in the Clifton Hunter High School auditorium for the candidate forum was how the political hopefuls intended to work with the newly elected government.
Mr. Ebanks, a 33-year-old salesman in his first political campaign, said he has “no personal qualms” with any of the elected members.
“I am willing to work with anybody … that is why I got into politics,” Mr. Ebanks said. “I don’t think opposition creates much dialogue that’s constructive.”
Mr. Chisholm also said he would work with any government that is elected … whether Progressives-led or independent or “other members of the Legislative Assembly.”
“This is not about the individual, this is about the district,” Mr. Chisholm said. “I’m not in this for Ed.”
Mr. Miller responded by stating that although he spent the last eight years in the assembly’s opposition benches, his input in debating and amending various pieces of legislation had been effective.
“Some people interpret working with government as agreeing with everything the government wants to do,” Mr. Miller said. “That’s not what I’m about.
“I’ve always been a constructive critic of any government …. I strongly believe in participatory democracy,” he said. “I’m the only member of the Legislative Assembly who provides a facility for their community to get involved in the governance of their country [referring to the North Side District Council].”
Mr. Miller said he would accept a position in the incoming government, including a ministerial position, if it was in a subject about which he had knowledge, such as healthcare. Mr. Miller is a pharmacist. However, that minister’s seat would have to be accepted with “the right individuals” in the government.
Both Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Ebanks, who would be first-termers if they are elected, said they would not seek a ministerial appointment in their first “go round” in public office.
All three candidates said they would work with whoever is elected in North Side, even if they should lose the upcoming election.
“I will do what I need to do to benefit my district,” Mr. Chisholm said. “You have to, you have to be able to work with people.”
Mr. Miller quipped that he was heartened by that statement and similar statements by Mr. Ebanks.
“I welcome these two people saying they’re going to work with me,” Mr. Miller said. “I don’t know where they were the last two years.”