By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
CAMANCHE — Thursday's Camanche City Council candidate forum presented interesting surprises for spectators — surprising answers, surprising actions and a surprising speaker.
Current City Councilman and election drop-out Gary Kampe requested an opportunity to speak during the forum after the active candidates gave their final statements. What ensued during those three minutes upset some candidates and shocked the room of potential voters.
"I don't know if this seems fair to the other candidates but I'm not going to pull any shenanigans here, I've never done that," Kampe said. "I sat here tonight and I listened to every one of these candidates. They all have good ideas but after 10 years, 15 years off and on the city council...I'll tell you, every time somebody comes to the polls with an agenda, it's nothing but rumors and lies. There's four candidates here tonight and them four are Trevor Willis, Linda Kramer, Greg Nelson and Mike (McManus). That's the people I believe I'm going to vote for."
Kampe's statement did not bode well with City Council candidate Charlie Blount, who stood up to defend himself and the other candidates.
"You're not even running and you're discouraging everyone from voting for us people?" asked Blount. "I think it's unfair to all these candidates here tonight to give him air time, voicing his opinion and discrediting anybody here sitting at this table."
Aside from the eventful finale to the evening, the rest of the candidate forum unfolded as planned.
Moderator Kathy Klahn began the forum by introducing the two City Council incumbents Linda Kramer and Greg Nelson, followed by the seven candidates challenging their seats, including Blount. She also introduced the two candidates running for Camanche mayor; incumbent Ken Fahlbeck and city councilman Trevor Willis.
After the introductions, the candidates were faced with five questions regarding the prosperity of the city; building a tax base and population; and the role that city services play in the future of the city.
"The city's role is to make Camanche an attractive community by having the best core services, which is our police department, fire department, public works and recreational areas. This will increase the population of the city by attracting new people into the area that will increase our tax base," Kramer said. "No one wants to move into a community that is falling apart."
The remainder of the candidates had their own opinions on how to increase the city tax base, but the majority agreed that increasing residency in the community is the strongest way to raise that base.
City Council candidate Marvin Lind agreed with Kramer that having strong services in the city makes it a marketable and safe place to live, but also believes the city's school system is another appealing feature of Camanche.
Candidate William Wruck also felt the school district was one of the most important focal points of the city but to accommodate a growing community, the council needs to look into creating affordable housing for current and potential residents.
"I believe by growing the city of Camanche's tax base, we have to have affordable housing and a strong school system that people want to bring their children to. By supporting our local and surrounding businesses that we already have and by keeping our town as simple and welcoming," Wruck said.
City Council candidate Mike McManus felt the city needs to build more roads and subdivisions to become more attractive to potential businesses; when businesses come, people come, too, McManus said.
Mayor Ken Fahlbeck has always felt strongly about maintaining and upgrading the city's infrastructure, and feels in order to continue the efforts the council has already accomplished, the council needs to set a five-year plan to repairing inner city streets.
"I'd like to work on a five-year plan to start maintaining our inner city streets now that we've worked on all of our main arteries in the city, and I think there was a good job with that as far as getting all of the main arteries done," Fahlbeck said.
As the evening came to a close, the candidates gave their final statements and asked for support from Camanche citizens at the Nov. 5 election.