Elections

City Council candidates respond to questions from Arlington Times

Arlington City Council candidates - Courtesy photos
Arlington City Council candidates
— image credit: Courtesy photos

The Arlington Times sent candidates five questions to each of candidates running for the Arlington City Council.

Candidates were asked to respond to the questions in 100 words or less.

Position 1

Steve Baker is running unopposed for Position 1.

1. What makes you the best candidate for the Arlington City Council?

Baker: Even though I am running unopposed again, I do thank the citizens of Arlington for their past vote and the confidence that they have had in me these last eight years. I have always tried to make good decisions concerning the growth and livability of Arlington.

2. How would city budgetary concerns affect your decisions within the council should you be elected?

Baker: Arlington’s current budget problems, as well as cities across this state, will be a real challenge for us in the near future. We have already taking many steps to cut back all unnecessary spending at this time. We might have to take more drastic steps in cut-backs to make up for the huge losses in tax revenue. With the losses in tax income, like the loss of Dwayne Lane, the downturn of the building industry, which effects businesses like Oso Lumber and other retail stores, it will be a challenge to balance the budget. We will be looking for many creative ways to accomplish this task.

3. How do you envision the city council having an influence on encouraging economic development in Arlington?

Baker: We on the Council have taken steps in the last few years to encourage new businesses to come to Arlington. We already have an Economic Director to find, meet and help new businesses that might want to relocate here in Arlington. Also I feel that we should look into other ways, like incentives, to encourage good clean businesses to relocate here.

4. How do you prioritize city projects paid for by taxpayer funds during an economic recession?

Baker: The Council is always looking at the real needs of the citizens in making sure that the most important projects are funded first before any nonessential projects. This Council has worked well together in being able to change, when a greater needs come up. It has been a privilege to work with such a great group.

5. If you are elected, what is your No. 1 priority on the council?

Baker: It has been my greatest priority to clean up our building codes as well as other codes so as to encourage businesses to be able to survive or to re-locate in this great town.

Position 2

Chris Raezer is running unopposed for Position 2.

Chris Raezer did not respond to candidate questions.

Position 3

Brock Hecla is challenging Scott Solla for Council Position No. 3

Brock Hecla did not respond to candidate questions.

1. What makes you the best candidate for the Arlington City Council?

Solla: The best candidate, is one who is involved in the community and cares about all the things that really matter to this community. Getting involved in the community isn’t just saying you care, but actually doing the things that help make a difference. Getting out and lending a helping hand, offering your time, your abilities and your resources, to the folks and organizations that help make Arlington, a great city. I do care and I am involved and I am committed to this community.

2. How would city budgetary concerns affect your decisions within the council should you be elected?

Solla: To me, the most important thing for any elected official to remember, during good economic times or bad, is that people want and deserve to feel safe in their community. To walk our streets or play in our parks without the fear or threat of harm or injury. To be able to count on fire, police or EMS support when needed. To feel secure when our children take off to school. To know if there is an emergency, someone will be there to help. If re-elected, decisions made within budgetary concerns, will favor support of a safe community.

3. How do you envision the city council having an influence on encouraging economic development in Arlington?

Solla: By being business friendly, which means to create a fair and compelling relationship between the City and all potential businesses. Reducing red tape and treating all potential businesses, as customers, deserving of all respect and high levels of service from the minute application is made, to the day the doors open for business….and beyond. City Council must support and encourage a strong economic development initiative and program, made up of individuals that seek out and recruit quality businesses to be established in Arlington.

4. How do you prioritize city projects paid for by taxpayer funds during an economic recession?

Solla: By understanding what and where the true needs are and making decisions based on the essential needs of the community. In times like these, tough decisions need to be made. Many decisions won’t be very popular or may seem unfair, but we all have to be realistic and wise at the same time. A safe community will always be a priority. Utilities and infrastructure are also essential needs to the community. Creating and maintaining a healthy and growing business environment, is essential for current and future needs, so the dollars earned in Arlington stay in Arlington.

5. If you are elected, what is your No. 1 priority on the council?

Solla: To honor and respect all those who entrusted me with their vote of support and by representing their cares and concerns to the City Council. I will continue to strive to bring a vote and a voice for fairness, openness and vision to our city. To me, there is no No. 1 priority, because everything we do in City Council, is a priority. Anything that involves Arlington’s history, culture, citizens, prosperity and future, is a priority to me and that is my commitment to the citizens of Arlington. It’s all about quality of life and being a good steward of God’s precious gifts.

Council-At-Large

Linda Byrnes will be going up against incumbent Graham Smith for the Council-At-Large position.

1. What makes you the best candidate for the Arlington City Council?

Byrnes: Based on my experiences as a business leader, I see city issues with a fresh perspective. For twelve years, I successfully managed the Arlington School District, with a similar budget and similar challenges. I understand the management of a large, complex organization. I also know the city departments and the people who provide the services as a client. The school district, with over 5,000 students and 600 employees is the largest employer in Arlington and the largest customer of city services. I believe my experiences will provide a unique and valuable perspective to the decisions of the City Council.

Smith: I have the most experience and current knowledge of City of Arlington government: Four years service on the Arlington Airport Commission. Past Utilities Committee Chairperson. Served on Finance and Government Operations Committee. Served on Community Services (parks and rec.) committee. Past Chairperson Public Safety (police, fire, emergency medical) committee. Current Council Chairperson Arlington Municipal Airport .

2. How would city budgetary concerns affect your decisions within the council should you be elected?

Byrnes: In difficult economic times, it is even more critical to keep in mind the big picture and the long-range goals of the city. For instance, if the Council decided not to fund any economic development projects, we would limit our future jobs and slow down our recovery. That would be short sighted and not in our best interests. It would also be a mistake to cut all maintenance, but we could postpone routine or cosmetic painting but continue to do work necessary to protect the integrity of a building.

Smith: Regarding City Budgeting, I have the same concerns the rest of City Council and the Mayor have. Decreasing revenue and increasing costs. We are and will continue to tighten our belts.

3. How do you envision the city council having an influence on encouraging economic development in Arlington?

Byrnes: The Council sets the tone for development in our community by the ordinances they adopt, their expectations for the staff, and how they allocate the budget. Our ordinances can encourage or discourage businesses to operate in Arlington. City staff could say, “No, you can’t do that," or “let me help you find another way to do what you want and stay within the rules.” Our budget choices influence the quality of police and fire services, safe streets, and recreation opportunities. People will choose to live in Arlington or not depending on the quality of life we provide.

Smith: We (Council) have established and funded an Economic Development Committee to assist use in keeping current businesses in and recruiting new businesses to Arlington.

4. How do you prioritize city projects paid for by taxpayer funds during an economic recession?

Byrnes: Projects related to public safety are always at the top of the list, but economic conditions sometimes require you to find a different way to deliver service. For example, to better protect people and property in Smokey Point, we need a fire station in that neighborhood. Plans for a new station were already approved, but because of the economy, the new station has been delayed. A temporary site has been leased at a significantly reduced price. This creative solution keeps public safety as our top priority but stays within our current budget.

Smith: Public Safety (police, fire and Medical Emergency) is Number 1 priority of any City. You can have the finest sidewalks in the State, but, if the citizens are not safe walking on them, what good are they?

5. If you are elected, what is your No. 1 priority on the council?

Byrnes: My number one priority is to use my knowledge and skills to help Mayor Margaret Larson meet her goal of “Bringing Arlington Together”. I am convinced that if we listen to each other and work together to find common ground we can meet that goal.

Smith: Economic Development and Transportation.

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