Athens Candidates Face Off At Forum

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Athens mayoral candidate Randy Morris claims Mayor Paul Wiehl has placed "roadblocks" in front of some small businesses in town.

Morris – a Republican – and Wiehl – a Democrat – appeared at a candidate forum Tuesday evening.

Morris was critical of Wiehl in response to a question about job creation.

"An awful lot of small business people in Athens do not feel the city government is supportive of them and is doing everything to help them and that needs to change," says Morris.

Wiehl denied Morris's allegation, although he acknowledged being against some business, like a strip club.

"There's policy and laws that actually interfere with business coming in," says Wiehl. "You have limitations. You follow the laws."

Mayor Wiehl boasted of having success with business growth during his almost four years in office.

"I do not know of any business that came in that I did not meet," says Wiehl. "I've been side by side with Mr. Hayes when he was trying to get some people into his building on East State Street.  In terms of landlords, it's the law."

But Morris argues the mayor sends a negative message about small business people in Athens.

"People have asked for signs and they've been told no answer whatsoever," says Morris. "They feel like when they're dealing with city employees to try to get improvements to their property that there are more impediments than help."

The candidate forum was sponsored by the Athens League of Women Voters and the Athens Public Library.