Only two of the wards in the Mission City Council election had side-by-side comparisons of opposing candidates at Thursday’s debate, but different priorities were raised by several of the candidates.
In Ward 1, Steven Lucas was the only candidate to appear. He is opposed by Jay Meyer, the only candidate who did not attend the forum. In Ward 3, incumbent Debbie Kring is unopposed for another term. In Ward 2 incumbent Will Vandenberg is challenged by Arcie Rothrock.
In Ward 4 incumbent Suzie Gibbs and challenger Bill Nichols diverged on some points. Gibbs said senior citizens who can’t stay in or take care of their homes was among the challenges facing the ward along with getting younger people to become involved and come to meetings. Nichols said the ward doesn’t have many challenges except to get people to serve on boards, and that it is always the same people.
In her closing, Gibbs said her health had been made an issue in the campaign. She described herself as a 24-year cancer survivor with plans to live another 24 years. Gibbs suggested getting homes associations together to work on common issues and pointed to Mission Magazine, where she is heavily involved, as a good vehicle for promoting the city. Nichols was critical of the city debt level, the “driveway tax,” parking regulation on Johnson Drive and city communication.
Vandenberg named streets, stormwater, debt and housing stock as priorities. Some issues, like the pool replacement, can’t be foreseen, he said, and need to be tackled as they arise. Rothrock listed communication and awareness and promoting the ease of travel on Johnson Drive.
Rothrock said the city should focus on paying down debt and making investments that are sound. Vandenberg said although the city has a good credit rating, smart spending is required. He added that a lot of infrastructure improvements need to be done, such as storm water.
Lucas addressed cooperation with the school system on issues affecting Rushton Elementary, such as ensuring students can walk to school safely. He said Ward 1 has the lowest income and property values and is the least walkable in the city. “These need to be addressed,” he said.
Kring said the city needs to bring Johnson Drive business owners together to address parking, sidewalks in neighborhoods are a remaining infrastructure issue and that the city should look for new revenue sources, such as grants.