Candidates for Gardner City Council addressed potential voters during a forum at Wheatridge Middle School last week. All seven candidates participated, giving voters a peek at what each candidate would like to accomplish if given the opportunity.
Hosted by the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, the event wasn’t a debate.
“We’re not going to be going back and forth,” Jason Camis, Chamber president, said.
Candidates were given a few minutes to introduce themselves, and then they answered questions submitted prior to and during the event. Most candidates said they’d like Gardner to retain its small town charm, when asked what they’d keep the same in town. They were also asked where they thought the city could make improvements.
“The thing I hope to improve, I’d like to improve our relationships,” Lee Moore told a crowd of approximately 50 voters. Moore has lived in Gardner for the past 10 years and works at Garmin.
“I feel like Gardner has not moved forward,” Moore said. “I want us to take advantage of the growth that’s happening around us. We stand to lose a lot if we don’t get proactive and don’t develop a strong annexation strategy.”
Incumbent Heath Freeman said Gardner has many exciting things headed its way.
“I want to make sure the execution is done as efficiently and affordably as possible,” Freeman said. He has lived in Gardner for 9 years and was appointed to the council three years ago.
“My job is to make sure this is always a hometown that you’re going to be proud of and make sure that Gardner in 10 to 20 years is a town we still want to live in,” he said.
Randy Gregorcyk said he’d like the community to continue to be safe one. He noted that the community was recently named one of the safest in Kansas. Gregorcyk was appointed to serve on the council briefly in 2013 and has lived in Gardner for more than 8 years. He is also a former member of the Gardner Electric Utility Board. He said he’d like to build relationships with the people who own property just beyond city limits on the east side of Interstate 35.
“The reason why I’m running… we have three items we’re running on tonight — safety, growth and fiscal stability,” Gregorcyk said.
Brett Limer said he’s also interested in improving relationships with additional interaction between city government and citizens. He praised recent work sessions that included citizen input.
Limer has lived in Gardner since 2002 and currently serves on the planning commission. He said he promises to provide representation and transparency, if elected.
“My top priority is maintaining and focusing on city infrastructure,” Limer said. “That will serve as the catalyst of economic development.”
Incumbent Tory Roberts told the audience that city officials have recently done several studies on maintenance needs for existing infrastructure.
“We know where we need to go, but we need to get back on track,” Roberts said.
She said one of her priorities as a council member is to encourage more volunteerism from Gardner residents. As an 11 year resident, Roberts said has served on the planning commission and the board of zoning appeals and has been attending all council meetings for the last 6 years. She also serves on the Festival on the Trails committee, is a board member of the Gardner Historical Museum, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Lions Club.
“Throughout the year, I volunteer many of my hours to community efforts,” she said. “Gardner has given me a great place to live, work and play.”
Todd Winters said he’d like to improve the city’s image to potential business owners and developers.
“I think ever since the intermodal, we’ve created an image that we’re not open for business,” Winters said.
Winters owns a chiropractic practice in town. An incumbent who was appointed to the council a few months ago, he also served on the council from 2007-2011. Winters has lived in Gardner since 2001. He is a past chamber president, serves on Festival on the Trails committee and is a past and present president of the Gardner Rotary.
Rich Melton said he is also concerned about Gardner’s reputation among business developers.
“Relationships are what we need to work on,” Melton said. “Our city is never going to grow if we don’t have the relationships.”
Melton has lived in Gardner for 13 years and is an inventor, who runs a holster manufacturing company. He said one catalyst for getting involved in city government was participating in the inaugural Gardner Police Citizens Academy.
“I saw the absolute horrible condition that (police station) was in,” Melton said. “We barely buy (police) new vehicles. That’s unacceptable. That’s putting our officers at risk.”
Council candidates meet voters at forum