Mayoral candidates address issues

Candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Waterville are ready to answer questions at a forum held June 28 in Pioneer Park. They are Loyd Smith, Chuck Driver and Jill Thompson. (Provided photo/Bruce Clark)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

When Waterville resident Jill Heiserman heard that there were four candidates running for the position of Waterville mayor she thought that the public needed a chance to hear them address issues in a live setting. Because the primary election will be held Aug. 6 she knew that this event needed to be organized and carried out quickly.

She worked to get people who could help her to organize a candidate forum. There were many things to do. A venue had to be found, insurance had to be procured, the event needed to be advertised, people needed to be on board to take care of sound, questions needed to be written and distributed to the candidates and a moderator needed to be found.

Heiserman said that she thought of various venues, but settled on Pioneer Park. However, the town’s insurance doesn’t cover the park for events such as this one, so she asked a local business owner for help. The business owner made an anonymous donation to cover the insurance. Other pieces also fell into place, with a loan of the sound equipment and Douglas County Prosecutor Gordon Edgar volunteering to be the moderator.

“It just came together,” Heiserman said.

The forum took place on June 28 and drew a substantial crowd of residents. The format included opening statements from the four candidates, a series of questions asked and a closing statement from each candidate.

J.D. Greening used his opening statement to announce that he was withdrawing from the race. He then stepped down and the remaining three candidates — Loyd Smith, Chuck Driver and Jill Thompson — continued with the rest of the planned event.

Questions were quite varied and thoughtful. They included current issues the town is facing, such as water and sewer matters, the building moratorium, maintenance of town infrastructure and the need for revitalization of Main Street. They also included questions about how the candidate planned to function in this leadership position and include citizens in the decision-making process.

Each candidate was limited to two minutes per answer and the forum remained very organized, providing residents a good opportunity to hear the views of the candidates. Unlike in many debates or forums, there was no interrupting, attempts to go overtime, or expressions of negativity toward other candidates.

The forum concluded in just over an hour and people had an opportunity to mingle with the candidates.

Many people approached Heiserman with words of thanks for the initiative she took in putting the event together.

Ballots for the primary election will be mailed on July 17. The top two candidates from the primary election will advance to the general election ballot for Nov. 5.

The winner will take over from longtime Waterville Mayor Royal DeVaney who chose not to run for re-election.