It’s two open seats in far West Ashley, with each race drawing three contenders.

The internet connection is spotty here in the auditorium, but we’ll be posting a play-by-play following the event.

The event is sponsored by the Charleston League of Women Voters and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Answers have been trimmed with only a few minor alterations to language, not message.

District 2
Blake Hallman: “I was challenged by late philanthropist Jerry Zucker to give back to the community. I took that challenge to heart.” Started an independent coalition to protect Morris Island. Kept island from being developed. Constituents have said the No. 1 issue is uncontrolled growth.”

Rodney Williams: “I will bring a new vision for balanced growth. The new reality is that 40 percent of city residents are living in West Ashley. The district needs a new voice. Building coalitions in the public and private sector and producing results.”

Steve Ziker: “I come forward as an average citizen looking to give back to the community. After 20 years in the district I feel it’s time to give something back. An issue affecting all of Charleston is the disharmony on City Council.”

District 10
Art Beane: “I’m the best candidate for District 10. Non-profit experience, especially in the district. I’d be honored to be your voice on City Council.”

Dean Riegel: stands up “Part owner of his own company. Being a small businesses, I know how to budget. I have to make payroll every other weeks. We need new energy and new enthusiasm on council. The mayors done a good job, but he needs a little help. Need efficiency in govt. Additional resources for first responders. Flooding in District 10.”

Ginger Rosenberg: “I bring a very unique and very solid blend of corporate management skills and knowledge of Charleston as a community. You have to be able to find solutions and work with very divergent stakeholder interests on an issue. Worked with key nonprofits in the community. Combination of business skills and the nonprofit community.”

First question: Toughest issues facing Charleston now and how to address it.

District 10
Riegel: “Budget. We need to be sure we’re maximizing every tax dollar. See how every dollar is spent. Make sure first responders are paid appropriately and have enough resources. It’s critical that we, as candidates, engage the voters and constituents and get them involved in the process.”

Rosenberg: “The lack of planning and regional cooperation in regards to growth. Most of our traffic congestion is due to that. I would go out of my way to make sure the city council does more on a regional basis to develop solutions so all the traffic congestion isn’t coming through District 10.”

Beane: “Tourist, traffic, and flooding. Those are very big issues. The budget.”

District 2
Williams: “Long Savannah, West Ashley circle. We have to revitalize. We need to find ways to move from a tourism economy to a bio-tech economy — MUSC Tiff. The new reality is that if you build a city, we can balance. West Ashley is not overgrown, it’s underdeveloped. Given the right attention, you’ll see us thrive. We are on the right track of growing this city. We have a plan for West Ashley. Lets connect the city.”

Ziker: “Growth. The City of Charleston isn’t focusing on how that growth will be handled. The city council is not working together for the overall good of Charleston in the inner-city vs. the suburban areas. The infrastructure to support growth doesn’t exist. Annexation or merging of North Charleston into the City of Charleston.”

Hallman: “We have 646,000 people in Tri-county area. The growth coming in is the biggest challenge we face. Great urban comprehensive plan. Linking existing neighborhoods. We have to recognize the new growth will be outside of the city. I’d like to see better interaction and communication between city and Dorchester and Charleston counties. We need to set up better communication so we can plan for our future.”

Audience questions: Alternate transportation for West Ashley. Be specific.
District 2
Ziker: “There is simply no public transportation available except for commuter bus. Light rail would have to be planned now and the land reserved. Make a plan determine what is cost effective:

Hallman: “Pleased by county comprehensive plan for bike trails throughout West Ashley neighborhoods. Thinking about light rail or something that will provide options.”

Williams: “We need to continue to expand CARTA in the short term. We’re going to need more federal dollars and more private-sector dollars. Work regionally.

District 10
Rosenberg: “The communities in our area of West Ashley were based on the old urban model. We need to try to retrofit our communities for more bike paths. City Council can further work with CARTA to design routes that make sense. Designate more park and ride lots.”

Beane: “Bike paths are a great idea. Bees Ferry is going to have bike paths and walking paths. Need park and ride bus lots. That will make transportation better for everybody.”

Riegel: “It goes back to regional cooperation and planning for growth. Mass transit works really well elsewhere. Expansion of service locally is going to require additional money. Need to analyze cost vs. benefit.”

If you are elected what will your first priority be to improve city services in your district?
District 10
Beane: “Get the traffic controlled on 61. More traffic lights, turning lanes.”

Riegel: “Traffic. Trying to relieve congestion. Need more traffic lights. Flooding. Spending all this money, we ought to be able to find a solution.”

Rosenberg: “Traffic. It’s going to require sitting down with state, regional, and local transportation officials to see who can get it done. Trash. Landfill affects District 10 the most and could impact property value over time. Work with county to make sure alternate long-term plans are put in place to make sure the trash is taken care of and it doesn’t affect our quality of life.”

District 2
Hallman: “Replacing Highway 61 with other options. Creating a parallel road or an extension to the Glenn McConnell to handle growth. Support mixed use developments.”

Williams: “I would form a discussion on Savannah Long project, West Ashley circle, Wal-Mart redevelopment, community recreation center. I don’t create problems, I build solutions.”

Ziker: “Fixing Hwy. 61. We are concentrated as shopping centers and residential communities. Allow multi-use zoning to allow a mix of residential and small shops mixed in a community so everyone doesn’t have to go out on 61 for their daily lives.”

What experience do you have in job creation and what would you do to help?
District 2
Williams: “I will try to sit on every committee to keep pushing job creation. Support the state. We have a tremendous opportunity in digital corridor, MUSC TIF. Ready to travel and sell Charleston to business. Focus on career tracks and link our jobs to programs in schools. Get young people career-ready.”

Ziker: “Take a look at our vacant commercial spaces. Part of our problem is that there seems to be a perceived advantage for developers to leave their property vacant.”

Hallman: “Has worked to help create jobs in the hospitality industry. City could offer low-rent options in vacant buildings for businesses that agree to stay after rent goes up. We need to offer parades for business looking to come to the state.”

District 10
Riegel: “The key salesman for the state of South Carolina is the governor. He has not been focused on development. We need to have professionals in the Department of Commerce.”

Rosenberg: “Worked for the Charleston Regional Development Alliance to recruit large employers. Under the best circumstances, it’s a difficult task. What we need to do is create the climate that foster small business. Review fees for business. Providing education and training to help small businesses get off the ground.”

Beane: “Business owner his whole life. We need to backup small businesses and get them to work. Crime is on the upswing all over West Ashley. We need to control that so businesses will want to come to Charleston. We need to get a handle on this in the community.”

What can you suggest to improve communication in our community? News often too late to participate.
District 10
Rosenberg: “We don’t do enough in the way of communication. In today’s world of technology we could be doing something a lot more and value-added for our constituents. Council member websites focusing on issues particular to that district.”

Beane: “Would be in contact with all the neighborhood groups. Monthly meetings to discuss issues.”

Riegel: “Utilize technology through websites to neighborhood groups. Rotate meetings in neighborhood to enhance communication.”

District 2
Ziker: “We have to represent the city as a whole. I would like the major cable providers televise the council meetings. When exposed to the greater public, the council might change some of its ways. Monthly meeting in the communities in District 2 to discuss their issues.”

Hallman: “I’d like to research the subject further in regards to technology. I’m a big fan of trickle-down concepts. The council members can pass along information to neighborhood groups to make sure we’re addressing issues.”

Williams: “I want to do something old fashion. I’d like to bring a coffee shop to the community and talk with residents for an hour or so a week. You’ve got to engage people. I’ll be looking for a place to gather.”

Should the City of Charleston continue to fight James Island in court?
Not very interesting, except …

Ziker: “Opposed to 526 expansion. I think if we eliminate the 526 issue, there may be an ability to back off the court case and get the James Island community to willingly come into the City of Charleston.”

Williams: “Support completion of 526. We’ve got to be able to move people off of these islands in a hurricane situation.”

What can be done to combat the growth of violent crime?
District 10
Riegel: “Chief Gregg Mullen has done a marvelous job. Getting talented candidates on the force. We have to be careful about salary compression. We need to be sure we have adequate funding for our veteran officers.”

Rosenberg: “I’d take my cues from Chief Mullen. City applying for grants for video cameras in key spots in the city. Those kinds of technology can help the police force keep us safer.”

Beane: “I’d propose we start having police patrols where officers come out and meet everyone and know the neighborhood. Mandatory sentencing bill will be in the Statehouse in January. Also, make sure a convicted felon can be searched at any time. That’s a step in the right direction.”

District 2
Williams: “It’s time to put legislation together to take criminals off the street.”

Ziker: “The correctional system has failed all of us. Seen an increase in petty vandalism. Would like to see an increase of random patrols. See SCE&G expand streetlight program. There are many neighborhoods where there are no streetlights at all.”

Hallman: “The police department are the experts. As an educator and businesses, I’d like to stress the importance of education and the benefits to give people less reason to break laws.”

What is your plan for providing services to senior citizens?
District 2
Ziker: “What is lacking is some sort of community center for seniors and other members of the community to gather. Park system could be enticed to move in to some of our vacant space in the district.”

Hallman: “I’d like to ask the seniors what they would like to see.”

Williams: “Seniors would like transportation assistance for special events like Spoleto.”

District 10
Rosenberg: “We’re going to have an opportunity with Bees Landing rec center. There’s no reason the programing there has to be geared to teens and children.”

Beane: “Some seniors are afraid of Hwy. 61 because of the oak trees and potential fall of limbs. That should be something the city should look at and take care of those trees. I’d like to see a community center for the elderly.”

Riegel: “Strong believer in family values. Bees Ferry center is going to be a welcome addition. I’d like to survey the senior citizens, but also get with state government and county to look at opportunities to improve the quality of life for our seniors.”

How will we be sure you will represent the citizens of your district?
District 10
Beane: “Drive down 61 and you’ll see the signs in all the businesses that support me and back me. That’s who I’m going to represent. Businesses and constiuents.”

Riegel: “We need to have accountability back in government. You’ll see me at the Bi-Lo and Hardees. You’ll be seeing us and telling us what your thought are.”

Rosenberg: “I’m capping off a career of community service. The only reason I’m doing this is to help my neighbors and the people of District 10.”

District 2
Hallman: “I give you my word.”

Williams: “Sent back a campaign donation from a lobbyist.”

Ziker: “I”m running as an average citizen. I have no career aspirations in politics. It’ll be the community I’ll be serving.

District 10
Rosenberg: “I have the skills and knowledge to be an excellent City Council member. I may be one of the best prepared to enter into this role. I am a community problem solver in the nonprofit realm. I’ve already been out in the community working for you.

Riegel: “It’s paramount that leadership is a key factor in picking your candidate. I will be a leader. I’ll use my 35 years of business experience to make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely. Make sure first responders have the equipment and training they need. I’ll live up to my motto of business over bureaucracy.” 

Beane: “I’ll work for all the people of District 10. I’ve created a small business and been successful at it. I understand business and city government is a business.”

District 2
Ziker: “As an average citizen I’d like to represent my district and work for a greater City of Charleston. I’ve had 31 years as a problem solver.”

Williams: “Many people complain, but few people get things done. Twenty year track record of building coalitions.”

Hallman: “I haven’t just talked about it, I’ve done it. I’ve put together coalitions, even when I’ve been told it’s not going to work.”