The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 31, 2013

EDITORIAL: Candidates' answers shed light on plans for city

The Clinton Herald

---- — Tuesday is a very important day for the city of Clinton.

Actually, that is an understatement.

The happenings of that day will be crucial to the future of this city’s 26,000 residents.

That’s because the ballots cast Tuesday, as well as those turned in during the days leading up to the election through the absentee voting process, will determine who will lead Clinton into the future as members of the Clinton City Council.

And this isn’t just about a couple new faces — this is an election in which five of seven council seats are up for grabs. They include two at-large seats, and the one seat each that represents Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 3.

In all, 10 candidates have stepped forward to place their names on the ballot: At-large candidates Tom Determann, incumbent Jennifer Graf, Andrew Luett, Andrew Sokolovich and Grant Wilke; Ward 1 candidates Julie Allesee and incumbent Maggie Klaes; Ward 3 candidates incumbent Bev Hermann and challenger Ed O’Neill; and the lone Ward 2 candidate, Lynn McGraw, who is running to fill the seat vacated by Allesee, who has been serving Ward 2 but is now in Ward 1 due to ward boundary changes.

As in every election, each of these candidates brings his or her own set of unique experiences and perspectives to the table; knowing that, the Clinton Herald Editorial Board met with each candidate last week and asked the same set of questions:

•If elected, how well would you work with other council members and city employees to help grow the city of Clinton?

• How will you make the city of Clinton more competitive when attracting residents and businesses?

• Do you have a significant issue that you’re passionate about?

• What is one element that makes Clinton a better place to live?

• What is one element of the city of Clinton that you would like to change immediately to create a better future?

• What do you bring to the table by way of experience, education, training, temperament or otherwise that will allow you to make a significant contribution to the work of the council?

Through those questions and the responses the candidates brought forth, the goal was to find out how much each knows about the city of Clinton and the issues it faces — among them budget shortfalls, balancing services with their costs, and negativity — and to see what they would do to not only correct problems but also to propel Clinton to become an even better place to live and work.

We heard a lot of good answers.

Among them are the need to keep spending in line, balance the budget to cover costs and ensuring the council receives financial reports in a timely manner to make informed decisions. They all addressed improving the perception that some have of Clinton; in other words, countering negativity by letting constituents know about all the good things happening here and the amenities available to them. They cited the need for more openness in government and a desire to change the city committee process in order to have more discussion among the council and residents as decisions are being made.

We do wish we would have heard solid ideas to reverse the financial path we have been on — although the idea of bringing in more business was tossed around a lot. However, we were inspired by the candidates’ desire to improve the attitude residents have by speaking with them about issues of concern and getting out positive messages. That’s a great learning point for people here — be it the mayor, a city council member or a city department head: Just by embracing this concept they can boost morale throughout the city right out of the gate.

We took all of those responses and used them to determine who we think is best equipped to lead Clinton out of the tough times it finds itself in and will set the community on a course for future growth and prosperity. Our selections will be detailed on this page tomorrow.

We hope that by doing so, residents not only are more informed, but will go to the polls, exercise their right to vote and seek to contribute to the future success of this city and its residents.