Photo courtesy of Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
A new city council member was appointed Monday night to the Gardner City Council.
After an hour of hearing from five candidates seeking former council member Randy Gregoryck’s vacant seat, council members voted for Erik Potter. According to his application, Potter has lived in Gardner since 2019; both he and his spouse are self-employed in financial services and food services, respectively.
Potter received three of the majority consensus votes.
Potter thanked council members for the opportunity. His term will expire December 2023.
Six applicants had submitted to the city clerk for the December 20 deadline.
Todd Winters, mayor, said one applicant had taken themselves out of the running.
All five applicants gave a two minute opening statement, answered questions about issues they saw the city facing, their priorities for the city, where they saw Gardner in five to ten years, answered questions from council members and gave a one minute closing statement.
The five candidates were David Arnold, Nathaniel Plahn, Erik Potter, John Tramble Jr and Dennis Watson. Tramble had ran for council in the November election.
Watson interviewed through Zoom.
Candidates all stated they believed the biggest issues facing Gardner were infrastructure and community growth.
Arnold said he would like to see why Gardner doesn’t get the same attention from developers as other area cities and how to properly maintain infrastructure without increasing the tax burden on citizens.
“The city will grow one way or another but how do we want to grow,” he said.
Arnold said he believed his employment and relationship experiences with planning communities and residential developments would be a great asset in bridging gaps for the city.
Plahn said the city shouldn’t concentrate all their housing in one area.
Steve Shute, council member, said he wanted to know Plahn’s ideas for the strengths and weaknesses of the downtown revitalization.
Plahn said the city’s lack of space was a weakness, but it benefits in charm.
“I love this city and just want to do everything I can do to help,” he said.
Potter said he liked the community presence and small town welcoming atmosphere.
His priorities he said were safety, security, competitive compensation and tools, a business friendly environment and maintaining while expanding infrastructure.
“Gardner is one of the greatest cities in the Metro,” he said. “Growth is going to happen whether people want it, and infrastructure will help ease that.”
Potter said they need to make downtown an area people want to come visit and maintain it as the sweet spot of the city.
“It’s one of the greatest downtowns but with a lot of unlocked potential,” he said. “I don’t think we have to mimic what other cities are doing.”
John Tramble Jr said they needed to make the community and downtown more walkable and pedestrian friendly by repairing and building sidewalks.
“There should be sidewalks,” he said. “Families can enjoy the amenities and should be able to walk to Price Chopper.”
Tramble said other infrastructure needs are for another high school and spaces to have more sit down restaurants.
Dennis Watson said his infrastructure concerns for the city was the encroaching warehouse districts and truck traffic from the intermodal in Edgerton.
Watson said he also agreed with Tramble about the need for a sit down restaurant.
“A great sit down restaurant would be a great asset to the city,” he said. “It would increase the draw.”
Watson said in the next five to ten years there would be a great influx of people.
“People recognize the value of an area like Gardner,” he said. “Infrastructure allows for that type of growth because of infrastructure is not here it’s problematic.”
Winters said he appreciated the five candidates and their different views of Gardner.
All candidates said they would be willing to participate and work on other city committees and wanted to be a representative voice for their neighbors through service.
They had each stated they had been drawn to move to Gardner in the last few recent years because of its schools, family friendly environment, affordability and charm.
Council also voted Mark Baldwin, council vice president, as the new council President.
Tory Roberts, council member, nominated herself for council Vice President but the motion failed.
Steve Shute was voted as the new council vice president.