Town Hall Forum rocks Kehr Union Ballroom


Patrick Halye

The mayoral candidates listen to the concerns of a local resident over Block Party.

Connor McKay, Sports Editor

This past Tuesday, candidates for town council gathered and expressed support of relaxing marijuana charges, tackled the town parking crisis and looked to find a better solution to Bloomsburg’s infamous Block Party.
Bloomsburg University’s Journalism Workshop class hosted the “Talk of the Town (Hall)” forum and debate in the Kehr Union Ballroom t to increase student awareness for the upcoming local elections.
In the opening town-council forum, the candidates first discussed parking. Candidate Jim Huber stood out with his idea of free parking for all students in the blue lot, which would be open all hours instead of closing at midnight; Huber discussed the necessity for this to be a joint project between the university and town.
All candidates did seem to agree on the legitimacy of the long-standing problem that is parking and their support for Pango, a parking app that allows for users to set up an account for their on-street parking and use their cards to pay meters.
The candidates also conversed about the potential creation of a parking garage to deal with the parking issue.
The candidates next discussed the topic of marijuana. Candidate Toni Trumbo-Bell discussed how changing laws could possibly lead to marijuana regulation similar to alcohol should the state legislature decide to change the legality of the drug.
While all candidates may have been in support of decriminalization, they expressed differing opinions over the issue of policing.
Candidate Jarred Harris voiced that he felt the police had better things to do than arrest students that could possess or smell like marijuana and that university students should not fear arrest as long as they are not being a disturbance. Mr. Huber disagreed, countering that the police are too ready to arrest students for minor offences.
Perhaps the biggest hot button topic of the night fell on the subject of Block Party. Candidate Vince DeMelfi spoke passionately about the changes he would implement to the event.
He proposed moving the event to its original location of the Honeysuckle apartments, which was once Sesame Street, and to make the event run by CGA and the university, allowing for more control of the event.
Candidate Bell felt that more intervention and education from the university could help lower damages along with lessening the number of out-of-town guests could be a viable option.

The idea of “changing the definition” of Block Party was proposed by candidate Huber, who feels the party should be changed into a spring festival similar to the renaissance fair.
Candidate DeMelfi was in full support of making the event into a music festival and voiced that he felt the CGA should use their excess funds to do so.
The debate may have seen less audience members, but was still just as heated in comparison to the prior council forum. While the same issues were presented to the candidates, it was their unique responses that captured the audience’s attention.
Both candidates agreed that parking is a problem, but neither presented a very strong solution. Candidate Eric Bower did express how he feels better zoning laws could help solve the issue.
On the topic of marijuana, Bower stated how he was against decriminalization, while candidate Bill Kreisher expressed how the decision ultimately fell on the shoulders of state legislation and the town had little control over the issue.
The biggest talking point of the night was once again Block Party. Kreisher discussed how the town’s Block Party problem stems from the law that makes the legal drinking age 21. He explained how this encourages binge drinking among students and problems that are similar to the issues during prohibition. He was in favor of BU’s Spring Fest but expressed that there really is no way to stop Block Party.
Bower explained that his top priority is to “keep everyone healthy and safe,” and he believes working with Greek life is the best way to do that. The candidate also suggested lowering the number of out-of-town guests permitted on the campus during that weekend. He did agree with Kreisher that there cannot be legislature passed against Block Party.
Before the event ended, Bower was put in the hot-seat. His character was put into question, as Bower was asked why voters should trust him after his last term ended with his stepping down over charges of soliciting a prostitute. Bower quickly explained how he mistook a relationship between him and a client, He commented that he has since turned his life around but did not say much more.
November 5 is election day for our local government. Be sure to make it to the polls and make an educated vote.