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Council candidates answer citizen questions

The 2017 candidates for Estherville City Council are: Brandon Carlin, Julie Clark, Ann Goebel, Dave Seylar, and John Skrepak

October 27, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

The 2017 city council elections take place Nov. 7. The Estherville News asked the candidates six questions that have been on the minds of local citizens. Brandon Carlin, ward 1 council member, is running for an at-large position, and submitted an all-inclusive statement for his answers. Julie Clark and Dave Seylar are running unopposed as incumbents for Wards 2 and 3, respectively. John Skrepak is challenging incumbent Ann Goebel for Ward 4.

Mike Clarken announced he is running for mayor on a write-in campaign. Cindy Hood, who was profiled in Thursday's paper, was previously unopposed.

Clarken said numerous members of the community asked him to run. On a recent trip with his wife, Edith, he said "I thought about it the whole time, and I think I have come up with the way I can make a real contribution."

Clarken said, "If I would win, I would like to return Estherville to a more transparent, inclusive, friendly government and community."

Dave Seylar: The Estherville native has served on city council for nine years.

"I'm a member of the United Methodist Church where I sing in the choir and serve on the board of trustees. I'm also a member of Rotary, Many Voices Choir, Friends of Ft. Defiance, and serve on the RWC Board as well as Excel Estherville."

Julie Clark: "I am employed at Iowa Lakes Community College Science Department. I have served for 4 years on the Council & I am involved with Excel! Estherville Arts & Culture as well as a number of other volunteer projects in the community and I am very involved in my church. I am married to John Clark and have two grown children."

Ann Goebel: is employed by the Estherville Lincoln Central School District. She has been a city council member seven years. Ann is a member of Wa Tan Ye and currently serving as president of Estherville Lutheran Church. Ann said, "I am working for the people of Ward 4 and the betterment of Estherville.

John Skrepak: "I've lived in Ward 4 for 31 years, raised 5 kids in Estherville and spent 20+ years in various levels of management. I'm currently retired."

Carlin issued this statement in response to the questionnaire: My name is Brandon Carlin and I have been on the city council for the last 2 years. I have decided to make the change to the at large position from the ward 1 position since there was an open at large spot. I believe that we still need more business in town. I believe that your tax base question and housing question can be answered by having more business and people in town. I am a big supporter of the police department. They work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year taking care of all of us, They deserve our support. I believe that we need to be open to changes as it presents opportunity.

What do you feel is the major financial challenge facing Estherville, and how will you address it in the next term?

Clark: The major financial challenges that are facing us today are funding the improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, becoming NPDES compliant for discharging into the Des Moines river, and funding the new aquatic park. We continue to work on securing the funding for these projects through revenue bonds & general obligation bonds, state and county grants, and capital campaign efforts.

Seylar: The major financial challenge faced by Estherville is the cost of rebuilding the wastewater treatment plant to meet new DNR standards. We will have to sell bonds and substantially increase sewer bills to pay them off.

Goebel: At this time the expenditure that we will be handling is the DNR mandated upgrade to the current wastewater treatment plant. However, full details have yet to be presented to the council. Therefore I should not speculate on how the council will handle this.

Skrepak: Estherville's biggest financial challenge is figuring out how to keep paying its bills with taxpayers constantly leaving the community. I'll address that by voting down discretionary spending that doesn't bring jobs or new people into the community.

What is the best way to build Estherville's tax base?

Clark: The best way to build Estherville's tax base is to continue to support local business especially the expansion of existing industries in our town. Downtown retail, also, provides revenue for the city through the collection of local option sales tax and we need to continue to look for ever-creative ways to support our stores as well as reach out to new businesses. Also, through the expansion of housing developments we can increase our tax base through the long term, even if the initial incentives are often tax breaks. Finally, by keeping and maintaining the older homes in Estherville, either as rentals or as owner-occupied fixer-uppers, we can ensure they don't become derelict & abandoned and taken off the tax rolls through demolition.

Seylar: The best way to increase Estherville's tax base is to recruit new businesses and industry. Not an easy task, as Lyle Hevern will tell you.

Goebel: The Economic Development Director, Mr. Lyle Hevern is in talks with several prospective businesses. It is my hope that these negotiations will result in the opening of one or more of these businesses that will produce employment opportunities for our citizens.

Skrepak: The best way to build our tax base is to give people good reasons to live here. Right now those reasons don't exist. Without a growing tax base, all our taxes and other costs will just continue to spiral up, driving even more people away. What are the big things people look for when choosing a new community? Jobs? Good schools? Low crime? Some things we have, others we don't. I'll be focused on getting the things we don't.

What do you see as the major needs for housing and transportation?

Clark: The two major needs for Estherville's housing right now is to fill up the three major housing developments with new homes and offer a variety of price points through continued support of the rehabilitation programs that rehab older homes. For transportation, we need to continue to look at how Estherville is expanding and ensure that our road system serves those expansions.

Seylar: Estherville needs new market rate apartments, condominiums, and affordable new homes.

Goebel: The city offers grants to homeowners looking to upgrade their homes; also the city is working with landlords to bring their rental property up to meet the Estherville codes. A new housing development (Meadows Estates) has recently opened and building is taking place. As for transportation, Estherville along with Emmet County help subsidize the Rides transportation.

Skrepak: Estherville is dying. I know that's not what some people want to hear but it's a hard fact and we need to confront it. It is depopulating at a faster rate than towns like Ruthven, Superior, Emmetsburg and Dickens. All those expensive signs we've been erecting around town are actually headstones. But yes, there is hope. We need to change course right now! Stop the frivolous spending and start investing in vital things that people really want and need. Quit charging frivolous fees for things that cost the city nothing. Quit hiking utility bills. Quit piling on ordinances as though we're a city of 100,000. Quit looking for ways to fine people. Stop seeing residents as dollar signs and start treating them like the VIPs they are.

How do you feel Estherville is doing on fighting crime?

Clark: Estherville is doing great on crime and I couldn't be more proud of our Police Department and of Chief Shatto.

Seylar: I feel the police department is doing an excellent job fighting crime and keeping us safe. I believe the addition of Officer Dunlavy as school liaison officer will pay off great dividends over time.

Goebel: We are fortunate to have an excellent police department. Sometimes the laws as they are written today do not allow the police to work as fast as the citizenry would like. All of us as citizens need to be proactive in helping our police do their job.

Skrepak: I only know what I'm told by our sheriff and police chief - crime is up. When you have an economy in decline that's only to be expected. As some may already know, I'm a huge law enforcement fan and as a council member perhaps I can do more about that.

What do you see as the greatest hopeful aspect of Estherville right now?

Clark: The greatest hopeful aspect of Estherville is the incredible involvement in community activities of her volunteers. Estherville is coming back!

Seylar: I believe the greatest hopeful aspect of Estherville is the ability of our various public and civic entities to work together for the common good.

Goebel: As I have said, Estherville is actively searching for new business, Avera Holy Family Hospital is expanding; Estherville Lincoln Central school is enjoying new facilities; Iowa Lakes Community College is building a new auditorium; Estherville Park and Recreation is in planning process of a new aquatic center, people are upgrading their homes, putting additions on. Our citizens are engaging in community activities through churches, schools, and civic organizations.

Skrepak: If elected, I promise the 4th Ward that when they come to a City Council meeting, they won't be talking to a cold statue but will find someone amicable and interested in taking their side and meeting their requests. As proof, my number is 712-209-7635.

 
 
 

 

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