Spring Hill voters will elect two council members on April 2. They will have three candidates from which to choose including Chad Eckert, Chris Leaton and Bradley Zerr. Spring Hill voters will also elect a new mayor. Only one candidate’s name, Steven Ellis, will appear on the ballot.
The Gardner News sent each candidates in contested races a short questionnaire and asked them to respond. Zeer did not respond. The answers from Eckert and Leaton follow:
Why are you running for city council?
Chad Eckert:
To participate and demonstrate leadership while maintaining the small town charm that is Spring Hill. Keep the city financially stable while remaining grounded and in touch with the community. To make well informed decisions while avoiding the arrogance of power.  I appreciate your vote and look forward to serving on the City Council.
Chris Leaton:
I am re-running for council because I have a passion for Spring Hill and the desire and ability to help my community.  After two terms on city council, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to serve our city.  My professional experience and education provide me with the tools and ideas to keep Spring Hill strong and vital.
Over the past eight years, I have worked to represent everyone with respect and fairness.  I have also worked hard to keep taxes at reasonable rates, encourage economic development, and be a community advocate.  I am willing to work with other community leaders to improve the quality of life for our families and businesses.
What are the three most important issues facing Spring Hill in the next four years?
Indeed there are many important issues facing Spring Hill. I will be proactive in addressing each one, a reactive stance is obtuse. I think the potential for population growth and increasing the sense of community are very important. Spring Hill’s primary attribute is its small town charisma. Often times this is lost via leadership over stepping bounds or being out of touch.  I will keep in perspective that not every situation is a crisis.
1) Maintaining taxes at reasonable level 2)economic development 3) Maintaining our facilities.  In my two terms on council, I diligently worked to keep taxes at a level that does not detrimentally impact services.  Economic development is important to keep taxes at a reasonable level. As the commercial tax base grows, it reduces the burden on the people of Spring Hill.
Also, the city civic center and community center require minimum maintenance and improvements in the upcoming year.  They are critical to our citizens and civic groups for meetings, practices and rehearsals. The roofs need significant repair and possible replacement and the windows and ventilation equipment is inefficient costing the city significantly in operations and maintenance.
How would you address the top issue?
I harbor integrity, responsibility, morals and small town values. I will strive to keep Spring Hill a strong yet simple community. Having been raised in a small town I have learned this from a very young age and thus came to appreciate it. I vehemently oppose raising taxes or fees. The future is bright for Spring Hill and I will not let it become clouded with over reaching policy or government.  Spring Hill government should remain small and less visible while welcoming new residents and business.
The most pressing issue will be repair and possible renovation of the civic and community centers which are critical to Spring Hill citizens.  In 2013, I will work with council and mayor to evaluate available funding and which repairs require immediate attention.  We will need to evaluate the function for each facility and provide a long-term plan for maintaining and improving them.
A critical step will be to get citizen input on the desired facilities’ functions and incorporating these ideas into a long-term plan.  A short-term plan including funding should be completed by August 2013 so necessary repairs can be included into the 2014 budget.  Immediate repairs to the roofs of both buildings are necessary and should be completed this spring.
If you were to raise tax rates or fees, what specific taxes or fees would you raise and why?
I vehemently oppose raising taxes or fees. I believe in being accountable and responsible.
Currently, the city budget only provides for minimal maintenance and operations but not significant costs such as complete roof or window replacement.  This lack of funding is the same issue as the original school building that was demolished, and it should be a lesson to the city that some minimal funding should be provided to keep our buildings in good condition for use by our citizens.
As necessary, I would support increasing taxes for properly maintaining the civic center and the community center.  If the council does not support using property taxes for these repairs, I would propose a specific sales tax referendum.  The sales tax would be placed in a specific account for the sole purpose of improvements and renovation of city buildings.