Danedri Thompson

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A lot of newcomers threw their hats in the ring for a chance to sit on the Gardner City Council for the next four years. Three seats will be up for grabs in the April 5 municipal elections and eight people are vying for the seats of Steve Hale, Dan Newburg and Todd Winters. None of the three will run for re-election.

Both Hale and Newburg were appointed to the council, Hale in 2009 and Newburg in 2010.

Although no incumbents will be on the ballot, one candidate has some experience on the council. Dennis Pugh served for a few months on the council in 2009, after he was appointed by former Mayor Carol Lehman. He lost his election bid that year, but was briefly considered for appointment by the council by Mayor Dave Drovetta.

Two other candidates are familiar names on Gardner municipal ballots. Larry Fotovich lost his mayoral bid in 2009 to Drovetta by four votes.

Tory Roberts also ran for council in 2009. She lost in the primary that year. However, Drovetta appointed her to the planning commission.

Gardner voters may also be familiar with Jared Taylor, who is running for a seat on the Gardner council for the first time. Taylor was one of three Gardner residents who spearheaded the efforts that saw John Shepherd and Mary Peters ousted from the city council. Their recall saw the appointment of Newburg to the council and Kristina Harrision – who isn’t up for re-election until 2013, to the council.

Other candidates for office include Jeff Barber, Dustin Martin, Chris Morrow and Bill Sutton.

According to Stewart Fairburn, Gardner City Administrator, city council members ensure the proper governance of the city.

They’re role, he said, is “to bring forward issues and concerns – to weigh all the issues that are before them in an even manner and to make decisions.”

One of the biggest decisions is the approval of the approximately $30 million city budget each year. That includes approving the city’s property tax rate. Revenues for the budget are largely derived from property taxes, sales taxes and fees.

Fairburn said there’s a council responsibility that trumps budgeting.

“One of the key things for council is to establish the vision for where they want the community to go,” he said.

Due to a 2008 law, municipal elections in cities of the second class do not host primary elections unless there are at least three candidates vying for each position on the council. The general election ballot will include all eight candidates. Of those, Gardner voters will be asked to select three.