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Micah candidate forum focuses on Kalahari, mayoral candidate differences
Mayoral candidates Debby Girvan and Thomas Tomzak trade barbs during last night's city candidate forum.
CHRISTOPHER WEHLING/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 4/11/2008
Debby Girvan and Tom Tomzak were allies when they sought their respective seats on Fredericksburg's City Council four years ago.
At a candidate forum sponsored by the Micah Ecumenical Ministries last night, both tried to pinpoint what had brought them into a two-way mayoral competition that has been bubbling up in low-level bickering in council meetings since before either candidacy was announced.
Girvan said she noticed a "difference of leadership style" between herself and Tomzak a couple of years ago.
She said the real estate tax and business incentives have increased the divide between the two.
"We do agree on property taxes. We both want to keep them down," Tomzak countered. "You can't do that by magic. You have to do it with sound leadership."
Tomzak put the divide between himself and Girvan at about the same place she did--two years ago, when the council was locked in debate over whether to use a conservation easement to protect its vast holdings on the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers in perpetuity.
That debate led into the 2006 ward elections for council. Tomzak said he wanted to reconcile with Girvan after those elections, but that she "fractured relations" among council members by abstaining from a vote to elect Kerry Devine Vice Mayor.
All five people seeking the mayoral and at-large seats on the council were asked last night what they thought about another issue on which Girvan and Tomzak are divided--the proposal to bring Kalahari Resorts to Celebrate Virginia by rebating 47.5 percent of its tax revenues for 20 years.
At-large candidate B-J Huff said he liked the jobs Kalahari would bring, but "I'm not quite sure we couldn't have negotiated a slightly better deal."
Planning Commissioner Mary Katherine Greenlaw, who is also seeking an at-large seat said, "If Fredericksburg wants to be nationally recognized for tourism, it needs a resort like Kalahari."
Vice Mayor Kerry Devine, seeking re-election to her at-large seat, said the council had negotiated a good deal on the incentives and, "It really should make us proud that we can attract a business that wants to invest $260 million in our community."