First forum in Savannah mayoral runoff focuses on sustainability and transportation

I just listened to most of tonight’s forum with Jeff Felser and Edna Jackson, the final two who will face each other on December 6th in the Savannah mayoral runoff. The event was sponsored by the Savannah Bicycle Campaign, US Green Building Council-Savannah Branch and League of Women Voters. Jim Morekis of Connect Savannah moderated.

My internet connection was spotty (Comcast) so I surely missed a few key moments. Please feel free to add comments that correct or amplify anything I say here.

A few quick reactions:

  • I was surprised that the proposal for LNG trucking did not get more airing.
  • I was surprised that neither candidate was quizzed about their stated support for dredging the Savannah River.
  • Both candidates struck positive tones that emphasized community building and community process.
  • Felser seemed clearer on specific policies and has a clearer command of important jargon, like “context sensitive desgin.”
  • Jackson had some positive things to say about beautification, but that came in response to a question about a greenway.
  • Neither candidate was familiar with bike sharing programs in other cities. Really? Such programs have only been around for more than 15 years and exist in Portland, Denver, New York (soon), Baltimore, and Chicago, to name just a few. It’s frankly stunning that aldermen with two terms behind them would not be aware of such programs in other cities. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign has a recent post about bike sharing.
  • Both candidates indicated support for the proposed 1% sales tax (generally known as TSPLOST) that voters must decide on this in 2012. Jackson’s answer focused on general community improvement. Felser emphasized sound financial stewardship; he suggested that he would bargain for more projects directly impacting the city of Savannah. (I’m pretty sure, however, that it’s too late to make significant changes to the regional funding list, which can be found here.)
  • Felser definitely seemed more aware of the details in the lengthy Project Derenne, which in theory should result in significant changes in the Derenne Avenue corridor.
  • I thought one of Jackson’s better moments came when suggesting that the city find ways to eliminate any duplication of CAT bus routes, downtown shuttle routes, and SCAD student buses. I doubt there’s a clear way to do this, but she consistently seems willing to entertain new ideas.
  • Both candidates expressed strong support for LEED certification of public buildings.
  • Both candidates expressed consistent support for bicyclists and bike lanes.
  • Neither candidate brought anything new or ambitious to the table, in my opinion. I would have loved to hear some long-range support for a streetcar network.

UPDATED: Here’s the video from last night’s forum: