Steve Shute
Guest Columnist
My name is Steve Shute, and I am a candidate for one of two At-Large seats on the Gardner City Council.
My wife Kathy and I moved here from Florida with our three young boys back in 2005 because we felt that Gardner was (and still is) a great place to raise a family.  (In fact, since we moved here, we have added two more boys to our family, bringing the total to five!)  I’m a senior-level information technology professional who works for a multi-state Catholic health system in the area, and I’ve been active for years as a Republican Precinct Committeeman as well as a conservative political activist who has founded several non-profits focusing on our nation’s unique heritage and promise as a Constitutional republic.
The first word that anyone who knows me will give you to describe me is “passionate.”  I have a strong, established, belief system, and first and foremost I am running because I believe that Gardner desperately wants a return to normalcy.  The last several years have seen a lot of turmoil in this city, and it has been reflected on the Council, with acrimony, recalls, resignations, appointments, re-appointments, and even fisticuffs between sitting Council members.  Frankly stated, we cannot expect others to come to Gardner to live, work, or play unless we get our own house in order first.  If I am elected, I will work to rebuild the trust of our citizens, and will serve ALL of Gardner’s residents.
I believe that Gardner is a “hidden jewel” in Johnson County, but some bad decisions over the last few years have somewhat tarnished it. If you elect me, I intend to fight for sound fiscal management of our citizens’ tax dollars as well as responsible economic development so Gardner will continue to be a great place to live AND start a business in coming years. Simply put, taxes in Gardner are way too high, and we cannot continue to depend on residents to shoulder over 85 percent of the tax burden.  We need to lower tax rates and broaden our tax base, and that means we must make Gardner attractive for businesses to establish themselves here.  Without commercial development that includes light industry projects, we cannot leverage the Intermodal hub right on our doorstep, and we will continue to force residents to pick up the tab for our public safety needs, as well as our vital infrastructure such as roads, sewers, and water.
In short, I believe that Gardner’s future is bright, but we have a short window of opportunity to seize the initiative now and over the next several months to attract the kind of business and commercial development to get us there.  We need to put the “open for business” sign back on the door to Gardner, for this is the key to our city’s future. I believe that I have the tools and abilities to help lead this city, and I would be honored to have your vote on Tuesday, April 2.
Editor’s Note: All Gardner mayoral and council candidates were given the opportunity to write a guest column. They are appearing with minimal editing in the order in which they were received.