07/15/12 — District 3: Goodman v. Farlow

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District 3: Goodman v. Farlow

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 15, 2012 1:50 AM

William Goodman

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Ben Farlow

The race for the vacated seat of District 3 Councilman Don Chatman features a newcomer taking on a council veteran as Ben Farlow will oppose former Councilman William Goodman.

Farlow said he would like to see the city prioritize its projects, while Goodman said he wants more attention to be given to his district, which he said has been largely ignored since he resigned from the council.

Chatman was appointed to fill Goodman's seat in 2004 after Goodman resigned because of his guilty plea to a felony charge for falsifying expense reports while working for the state Department of Corrections.

Convicted felons are not allowed to hold office or vote unless their debt to society has been paid, at which point they can request to have their rights restored, which Goodman did after paying $24,000 in restitution and serving almost half a year of probation.

Goodman has insisted that his conviction won't factor much into the election, although he did admit to omitting that fact at the NAACP candidate debate in April when he told those gathered that he resigned in 2004 to take care of his ailing mother.

Goodman's mother was ill during the time -- as her power of attorney he purchased a condominium on her behalf and then billed the state for staying there, leading to his conviction -- but his resignation came in a one-sentence statement the same week of his guilty plea and made no mention of his mother.

"Regretfully, I request that you accept this memo as my official resignation to the Goldsboro City Council this date, June 1, 2004," the faxed memo read.

He had retired from his position with the state two years prior when reports about his improprieties surfaced.

Asked about his cover-up at the debate, Goodman said because he wasn't questioned about his resignation at the debate, he saw no need to share the full truth.

"If I had been asked about it I would have admitted to my felony conviction," he said, but added that he felt "99.9 percent" of the community already knew about it, and cited the number of yard signs throughout District 3 as evidence that those in the community supported him regardless.

"My supporters know where I'm coming from. My supporters know where I stand," he said.

He said he would like to see investments made into the infrastructure of his district, which he said is the poorest in the city.

"If you want people to move back into the city you've got to revitalize these areas," he said.

He wants to clean up the city, specifically in his district, by condemning and demolishing dilapidated homes that are serving as criminal hothouses.

Farlow said he would like to help his district, but feels that improving the city as a whole -- through recruiting industry and revitalizing downtown -- would lead to more substantial growth there.

"I want to give people a reason to live here and a reason to be proud of this city," he said, noting that incentives -- tax breaks and other types -- could help spur industrial investment.

Farlow said he wants to see the city grow its relationship with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, but also to see the city become more independent from the base through bringing in more industry.

"The city and the base are two separate entities and (the base is) our chief economic engine," he said. "It shouldn't be that way."

Farlow said as a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission he has supported the ongoing plans to replace the W.A. Foster Recreation Center -- a project Goodman also said he supported.

"It needs to be demolished and rebuilt and expanded with not only a gym, but also classrooms for tutoring programs for students," Goodman said.

Farlow serves on the parks department's advisory commission which is also serving as the steering committee for the Parks and Recreation master plan, of which renovations to W.A. Foster are an large part.

Through investing in programs for youth, Goodman said it may be possible to keep would-be criminals busy enough to prevent them from getting into trouble with law enforcement -- another aspect of city services both candidates are passionate about.

Goodman said there's only so much that officers can do when they're driving around in patrol cars and suggested a change in the way patrol officers cover areas may be in order, especially in high crime areas like District 3.

"You need to park the car and get out and walk the streets," he said.

Farlow has said in the past that he would like to get more officers on the streets in general to help bring down response times and to give the police department the tools it needs to keep the city safe.

Farlow, 36, lives with his wife, Cassie, while Goodman, 62, resides with his wife, Yvonne.