The current Hope Town Council members up for re-election sing the praises of Town Manager J.T. Doane and his efforts to bring economic development to town.

But one of those running to unseat the incumbents has a decidedly different view of that position and the power it has.

Incumbents, Democrat Jerry Bragg and Republican Clyde Compton, are facing newcomers Chelsea Warriner, a Democrat, and Louis "Lou K" Kujawski, in a four-way race for the two open at-large seats on the Hope Town Council in tomorrow's election.

Compton said that the town government is the only organization that has successfully brought new business and economic development to town.

"There are people who are trying, but they have not produced yet, as in Main Street," Compton said. "That has been a situation where we paid a salary to an executive for four or five years now, of $12,000... but yet there has not been anything (accomplished) at this point in time, not saying that they can't do it.

"The Chamber of Commerce, I have not seen them do one thing to improve the businesses in this town. I don't know why anyone would even want to be associated with them when they don't do anything to bring business into town, to bring people into town. Except there are a couple of dinky little things that they do throughout the summer.

"So the town has totally been the only one who has created economic development in this town. And I think the big hand clap should go to the town manager, who has done a phenomenal job doing it."

Compton said that the town manager has done more for the town in the two years Doane has been here than has happened in the last 20-25 years.

"He has done it himself, with a little help from the employees and suggestions of a few other people," Compton said. "But he has personally went out and done it. So he needs a big hand clap from everybody in town, especially the businesses."

He credited Doane with bringing the pharmacy, Studebaker International and a new firm to the industrial park.

"What can you say about a situation like that? The value of the town has gone up about a quarter of a million dollars, I think it was, since he took over as manager and helped bring some of this capital into the town."

Kujawski said that the town should be friendly to businesses that want to move to Hope and that means less government regulation such as the trash fee and the junk auto ordinance.

"A lot of people move to Hope because they are attracted to the small town feel, the ability to feel like they are living out in the country while having some of the same (city) amenities even though it is just a Dollar General and a couple of gas stations," he said.

"If the Town Council would not put restrictions, meaning being overly burdensome with their rules and regulations. And quite frankly I don't think they need to be offering financing to get storefronts on the square to all look the same. I think part of the charm of Hope and the Town Square is the fact that it is rustic and it is friendly."

"You know, if there were no cars on the square, one would think that you could park your horse down there. And I like that. That is why I have lived here 23-25 years."

And Kujawski is not fond of the town manager's role in the trash collection fees.

"He has made one decision, compulsory trash pickup, that I am aware of that affected me personally," Kujawski said. "I did not want to become a politician and quite frankly I am going to leave it in the Lord's hands on whether or not I am elected. But once the town manager made that decision by signing a contract, I believe what he did was that he took a little bit of freedom from every resident in the town of Hope.

"I am not pleased with it. Hence the reason for my running. I know it sounds a little contrary. I think a town manager may be a good thing once I get an up and close look at the position. I don't mean to sound ambiguous or on-the-fence about the town manager."

Warriner said that she doesn't see economic development being able to draw in a large retail business, but it is still important to support the efforts of local businesses.

"I would say that we have a good variety of tools that we need but I think it is utilizing those in the best way," Warriner said. "I think that the role in economic development should be pretty substantial... I am not looking for any chain stores to enter in, but I think that supporting local businesses and being part of those local businesses plays a huge role in the economic development of the town. So I think that is something the town should be very involved in."

She said she doesn't know if a town manager is necessary for smooth local government, but having one does make it easier for Town Council members.

"I don't know that it is necessary one way or the other. I don't think it is a bad position to have. I think having a town manager delegates some of those tasks and takes some of that off of the Town Council. But there could be other options to positions in the town, rather than a town manager. It is an evaluation process and something that everybody can look at together. "

Bragg said a lot of the recent success at attracting new businesses came because of the town manager.

"We just keep looking towards the future and trying to draw the people in. And that is what it takes. I know a lot of people think you have an idea an voila it is here. It took a lot of work to draw in the pharmacy and but they are here. But that is when you have a good town manager to work with. You can get projects done and people in."

Bragg said that the town now has the right town manager in that position.

"He goes above and beyond," Bragg said. "I don't know of any other town manager for any other town who will get out there and get his own hands dirty for the town especially when he does not even live here. But when you talk to him, he has the same desire for this town as I have, and for me that means a lot."