Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner VFW Post 11234 held the last of a series of three public forums for city council candidates on Sun, Oct. 15 at the Grange building on the fairgrounds. Michael Blanchard and Randy Gregorcyk, two of the four candidates, participated in the forum. Mark Baldwin and Scott Smith declined the invitation to attend.
Candidates were given the opportunity for opening and closing remarks, and in between, responded to questions from the audience. Video of the complete forum can be viewed on gardnernews.com.
First, candidates were asked about the recent issue with youth sports programs and what could be expected in the future.
Blanchard – “The issue between the city and the school board is one where, you know, I shared the information that I looked up and requested, and I asked one of our elected officials when he told me that I was missing information, for that information and he refused to provide it. Which leads me to believe that I’ve collected the information I need. It doesn’t look like, in my opinion, the two programs or the city and the BOE even tried to work together to prevent this situation happening. […] it’s going to get really interesting come spring when baseball season kicks in.”
Gregorcyk – “Going door-to-door I actually knocked on quite a bit of schoolteachers doors and their big concern is funding. {…} At the end of the day, it’s for the kids – the kids are our community, the community is producing the kids, the community’s paying taxes. We just want our kids play basketball or baseball or my favorite sport soccer or badminton or whatever they want to do. We have to provide the opportunities to do that and we shouldn’t muddy the waters by competing with each other within the same community.”
Candidates were asked for their views on religion and politics citing a candidate who said he could not attend the forum because it was the Sabbath, but had been campaigning on the Sabbath in July.
Gregorcyk – “Our community is 24 hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year, so if I’m in this final interview today to take that office based on the number of votes that I earn and win, I’m more than happy to work on a Sunday, twice on Saturday because that’s what the community has asked of me, and I still can participate in church. […] We’ve got to make sure that we can put our boots on and get to work at the end of day and roll up our sleeves – but not being here today in this final interview, with the explanation of church, I think has a little merit, but I don’t think that they thought it out.”
Blanchard – “You’re right, there’s video proof that on a Sunday they were in front of a fireworks stand campaigning – all of them there all day long July 2nd, they were there until 6 o’clock, I believe what the gentlemen running the video said is that they would be there all day, and and pretty enthusiastically […] When the forum got put out there and we were asked to attend, I told Tim I would make what ever day work. You know, this is something that I have taken personally and decided I want to be involved in, so I’ll take with it what comes.”
Candidates were asked what they thought they could do to help the city develop better relationships with neighboring cities and intergovernmental agencies.
Blanchard – “When you’re asked to do this job, we’re being asked to be a professional representative of the community. I have to work with Edgerton and the county and the school, then that requires a professional attitude – so if you want to know, how do you go about fostering a better relationship, I do that by treating you and the people I would have to work with, with the respect that they deserve. It’s not a comedy show, you’re not voting for me to be a stand-up politician, a YouTube celebrity – you’re asking me to represent you as a community.”
Gregorcyk – “I think we need to continue to work with Southwest Johnson County EDC. As an elected official I think I need to work with both senators Senator Julia Lynn and Senator Molly Baumgardner because they represent basically 50 percent of our communities. Stay involved in County programs, whether that’s through appointment with Mike Brown or the county parks department or if they have an economic development project. What comes to my mind is the Amazon HQ program. And get involved, make yourself available, just like I’m available today for this final interview. […] Civility, respect, I mean it’s some common things when I was growing up that was just drilled into my head…”
Candidates were asked how they felt elected officials should conduct themselves on social media, citing a current council member’s recent comments.
Gregorcyk – “I’m not aware of that particular example that you’re speaking of but a couple of things – elections have consequences. To affect this is much like moving a battleship – it’s going to take a little time to pivot that ship in the right direction, so I’m not going to sit here in front of you and everybody that’s watching this later and tell you that I’m going to do that in the first 30 days, or even the first two years, but I think it’s persistence, confidence, professionalism, respect and civility that will win out and mute those that you’re referencing.”
Blanchard – “I have made my feelings on the situation known and Randy has too. I don’t know that I could be any clearer about how I feel about what is going on. I haven’t pulled any punches and I’ve been as direct and honest about it as I can so I would say that I would feel pretty confident that if I get elected that would be a pretty big voice of people saying yeah we’re tired of it too.”
There’s rumor of moving the fairgrounds. The Grange is worried they might lose their building. How do you feel about that?
Blanchard – “Last Tuesday we had one of our steering committee meetings and they have actually sat down and met with the fair board and very positive discussions in partnering with the city to improve move the existing facilities and do those things here on the grounds not trying to move it and get rid of it.”
Gregorcyk – “I support keeping the fairgrounds where it’s at. I’m extremely happy that the the stakeholders had a productive meeting with the fair board and I really see the board in the city partnering and making the facilities more useful throughout the year, such as The Grange as we’re all sitting in it today, but making that facilities of the Fair more useful versus just one week a year.”
Video of the complete forum can be viewed on gardnernews.com.