Danedri Thompson
A mayor’s responsibility is to provide leadership to the governing body, according to candidates for the job in Gardner, Dave Drovetta and Chris Morrow.
The pair answered questions during a forum sponsored by the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce last week.
Morrow, who took the first question following candidate introductions, said the mayor should run meetings in a crisp and professional manner.
“To build consensus and move the city forward smartly,” he said.
Drovetta said in addition to day-to-day responsibilities, the mayor is also responsible for getting people to invest in Gardner.
“Part of that is going out and representing our community to Johnson County, the metro area and areas beyond,” Drovetta said.
The forum was a second opportunity for the public to watch the candidates in action. A political party hosted a similar forum at the end of February and at both events, the candidates answered questions about how to improve the public’s perception of Gardner.
“We have had challenges in the last six years,” Drovetta told the audience of approximately 50 people. “We have worked hard to change that perception.”
One thing, he said the city has done is asked the city administrator, Cheryl Harrison-Lee to talk to business leaders to see what they need.
Morrow said the city needs to move quickly and smartly when working with developers and others investing in the city. For example, he said the city had agreed on a contract with BNSF and the Allen Group to build the intermodal, however, it remained unsigned for several months.
“When decisive action needs to be taken, it needs to be taken and followed through to its conclusion,” he said.
Both candidates expressed their support for making an at-grade railroad crossing at Poplar Street a quiet zone. Both also said the school district is the city’s most important asset.
They differed slightly on offering incentives. Drovetta said many incentives, including TIFs and abatements are controlled by state statute. However, the city could consider creative incentives, like waiving or reducing park impact fees, to attract development.
Morrow said the city should be careful about providing incentives, because often they’re not needed at all. Instead, he said the process to build a business in Gardner should be simple and quick.
Gardner voters will be select a mayor on election day, April 2. Advance voting by mail begins March 13. Advance voting in person begins March 26. March 12 was the last day to register to vote.