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Eight is enough

By Staff | May 28, 2010

A first – it’s believed – will occur at the Rugby city election on June 8.

All four wards will have contested city council races at the same time, making for an interesting day at the polls for Rugby citizens.

Eight candidates are vying for four seats. One certainty is that the makeup of the council will change following the election.

Just two incumbents are seeking re-election so there will be at least two new faces on the eight-person council, and potentially four.

In ward one, Gloria Vetsch and Neil Lovedt are running for an open seat; In ward two, incumbent Dave Bednarz is challenged by Don Haman; In ward three, incumbent Bill Hartl is challenged by Jerry Harmel; and in ward four, Randy Malo and Arland Geiszler are running for an open seat.

The fact there are several candidates running for council seats as well as the office of mayor reveals change is needed in city government.

In recent years, infrastructure projects and actions by the council has sparked growing concerns and desire for new blood to serve.

Randy Malo feels council and committee meetings need to be more accessible to everyone, and let the people of Rugby feel like they are being listened to, and that their opinion counts for something.

He’s not alone. Many other candidates echo those sentiments, believing that new faces, a different approach to governing and more consideration to residents’ views and ideas must come to the council.

Gloria Vetsch said it’s time the council put the views and concerns of residents first, believing they presently are not.

Neil Lotvedt, ward one candidate, said there needs to be a change, but in restoring a healthy relationship among city workers and the dialogue between city officials and city employees. He believes that relationship is strained.

Nearly all of the candidates stressed the importance of maintaining and improving the city’s infrastructure within the framework of a budget.

Dave Bednarz said that’s one of the reasons he is seeking a second term, noting he wants to see the implementation of a longe range plan to maintain streets and sewers as well as other city facilities and equipment.

Jerry Harmel added that supplying the necessary equipment and tools for law enforcement to make sure they can be effective in protecting our community is also important.

Another responsibility is to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money, said Bill Hartl. Providing quality services at reasonable costs.

Haman agrees, saying keeping taxes down and services affordable is a must, especially given the number of senior citizens and residents living on fixed incomes. We want to keep them here.

The council needs to be stronger in protecting the city’s position on projects where work was not properly completed. They need to better challenge engineers and contractors to make improvements or demand a reduction in costs.

The council also has to be one of the main role players in spurring economic development and promoting projects which foster growth, said Arland Geiszler.

One potential project that recently surfaced is a proposal by a pipeline company to bring natural gas into the city for commercial and residential use. The council is seriously considering that proposal and what the potential investment would be for the city, likely in the millions.

The council is a challenging and time-consuming position. Decisions are made that affect the community and residents. And the fact eight candidate have come forward to fill four seats shows the importance of this June’s election.

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