Richland Mayor, Council Candidates tackle questions

Editors Note: Council candidates Caryl D. Cavner Jr.; Brandon Davisson; Jordan Wright; Dale Woods; and Lee Duwa did not return candidate profiles. Profiles were sent via e-mail, where possible, and were also sent to all candidates via mail. The News-Review was unable to secure contact with write-in candidate for Mayor, Steve Pfeifer. As a result, Pfeifer is not included in the candidate profiles, however, that is not due to actions by him.

 

RICHLAND- Voters in Richland will have a packed ballot, as 11 residents vie for five city council positions. Mayor Tom Hoekstra is also challenged by write-in candidate Steve Pfeifer. Candidate profiles were sent to candidates, with excerpts from those profiles below. For full candidate profiles, check out the Oct. 30 edition of the News-Review. Election day is Nov. 5, with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can cast their ballots at the polling place where they voted for governor in 2018.

 

Mayor

Tom Hoekstra, inc.

Why are you running for mayor? 
 
It’s the ultimate opportunity to represent our citizens and lead the town through its many challenges.
 
Is your community moving in the right or your direction, in your view? Why? 
 
Yes and No. Everything is a work in progress. On the one hand our property values have risen in excess of five million dollars since 2008. It can and should continue, while lowering the levy. That being said, we must realize that we have to reapply our focus to prioritize our responsibility as a municipal government. We have continual maintenance issues that come first.
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution? 
 
Cooperation and collaboration. The application of civics and developing personal responsibility and contribution through citizenship is paramount. All small towns have got to avoid the “us versus them” formula and put “we” into the strategy.
 
City Council
 
John P. Nelson, inc.
 
Why are you running for City Council?
 
I’m interested in getting some projects that we in the works now, some of them that we have in the works, some of them that we have on the drawing board, completed. I hate to see something that we started get passed onto another group that may or may not see it the way that the present council does and either abandon it or alter it to where it’s not what we feel is a good sound program.
 
Is your community moving in the right direction or wrong direction, in your view? Why?
 
I believe we’re moving in a direction. That’s a tough question. On a lot of things, things that we have an interest in, I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. It’s a snail’s pace. But are we moving in the wrong direction? I don’t think so. I’ve been involved for several terms and it’s a challenge just to keep the city going, to keep it on an even keel. It will continue to move at a snail’s pace. The only thing that will make it move faster is if you take all of the funds that the city has available and then just spend it.
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution?
 
The biggest challenge is improving the water department, increasing property values, cleaning up general properties, and one of the biggest things is keeping the spending under control, yet providing as many amenities as we can, for the community. One of the challenges we have is it’s a bedroom community. 
 
Sue Gill
 
Why are you running for City Council
 
I’ve been on the council before so I know a lot about what has to be done to be a council member. I have been on it for 12 years and then took time off because I had some health issues, but I just feel like we need to get this community together and not have one side versus the other side. I’m just trying to make it back to the way it was when I was a kid, which may be hard.
 
Is your community moving in the right direction or wrong direction, in your view? Why?
 
I think they’re moving in the right direction. We’re doing everything to get into the 21st century. There’s been a lot of problems with the water meters and so they’re attempting to start a new plan where the meters will be automatically read once and a month and it goes to the computer. We won’t have to do anything. It’s going to cost some money but it’s going to be well worth it. 
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution?
 
A lot of communication between the people of the town and the council and the mayor. Hardly ever is there anybody, unless they’re particularly on the agenda, that attends a council meeting. A lot of people do not know what goes on at a council meeting.
 
Michael T. Hadley
 
Why are you running for City council?
 
I don’t agree with many of the decisions that have been coming out of our city hall for a while now and feel like it is time to try and make a difference.
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution?
 
It appears we have lost focus on our community and I think it is important to shift that focus back to the community and away from a self-serving thought process.
 
What is your vision for the community over the next 5-10 years?
 
I believe it will be important to start the process of getting good systems put in place to facilitate the city government system taking care of the responsibilities that it should take care of.
 
Rhonda L. Noel
 
Why are you running for city council?
 
I have thought about it for several years and decided that the time was right.  I feel that if there are things you want changed, step up to the plate and try to change them.
 
Is your community moving in the right direction?  Why?
 
I’m afraid our community is not currently moving in the right direction.  We have to attract young people to our community.  Several young families I know have moved out of Richland because they were fed up with the way they were treated by city hall.  This has to stop now!
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution?
 
When you drive through town, you see property after property with rundown buildings, weeds everywhere and even garbage in the yard.  This has to stop if we are going to attract working young people to our town.   The city needs to enforce the ordinances in place to force property owners to clean up their properties.  There are several other problems this town is facing as well.  The garbage pickup, the water system, the sewer system just to name a few.   Perhaps it is time to explore what can be done to improve these utilities without increasing the cost to the citizens of Richland.
 
Alisa Tolle
 
Why are you running for City Council? 
 
I want Richland to continue to move forward. I have an interest in what happens behind the scenes and believe I can make a difference.
 
Is your community moving in the right or your direction, in your view? Why? 
 
YES! We have a very dedicated and determined Mayor who, over the past several years, has guided the council(s) in cleaning up properties, that previous councils/mayors have not been able to do - making Richland a great place to live! Finding ways to bring property values UP and keeping the costs down … always looking for ways to update and save money for our city.
 
What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution? 
 
You cannot allow 1 ISSSUE, which bothers you, to determine your decisions. Right now, we have issues that have caused A LOT of emotion. Problem is – their “solution” does not help Richland as a whole. I feel it has become personal and am worried it will cause more problems in the long run. I am hoping residents will be able to see through this and think about RICHLAND not just a person/issue.
 
Diane L. Yule
 
Why are you running for City Council?
 
I was asked to run. I am hoping to make a difference in our community and provide complete transparency to our residents of our city government.
 
Is your community moving in the right or your direction, in your view? Why? 
 
It will, once we have a properly functioning city council. Presently, we have a backward city government where the city council is not necessarily running the city.
 
 What is the biggest challenge facing Richland and what is the solution? 
 
The biggest challenges revolve around completely and properly implementing laws. Presently, residents of Richland aren’t necessarily apprised of what practices are allowable. Thus, people have been misled as to what is allowed and not allowed. The people will not necessarily welcome these changes that are necessary for basic services that have been provided for years. When these basic services are correctly outsourced, one of many issues will be solved.