In order to further the public’s knowledge of this year’s candidates running for Mayor and City Council, the City of Granger held a special forum at the Community Center for both the candidates and the public on Wednesday, Oct. 25. This year, two individuals are running for Mayor: Tony James and Scott Smyth, and five are running for two open At-Large City Council member seats: Lexi Diersen, Carla Drennen, Rob Saak, John Schutt, and Erik Smith. All were present during the forum except for Council Candidate, Erik Smith, whose wife was in labor during the session.
The evening forum first began with the candidates running for Mayor; the event moderators, Mickey Shields, Assistant Director of Membership Services at Iowa League of Cities, and Clint Cole, Editor of The Perry Chief and Dallas County News. Candidates were given a two-minute opening statement, 90 seconds to answer each question, three minutes for a two-part question, and lastly a two-minute closing statement.
The topic of brown-water came up frequently among both Mayor and Council candidates. Some have been in direct hit of the issue, while others have heard from peers pertaining the problem.
“The quality is improving but more improvements need to be made, so that will be a major focus if I’m elected mayor,” said Mayor Candidate, Scott Smyth. “I saw the worst in the brown-water problems about five or six years ago and I’ve been one of the leading advocates in finding alternate solutions: just a few months ago asking the city to start publishing the water test results on the newsletter.”
Like Smyth, City Council Candidates, Carla Drennen, John Schutt, and Lexi Diersen have all had experiences with brown-water and see it as an issue that needs to be addressed.
“I believe that we have good engineers and good water quality standards, however if the residents are paying for a service, and they’re getting something that is less than what they’re paying for, then they deserve to get that quality of what they are paying for,” said At-Large City Council Candidate, John Schutt.
City Council Candidate, Carla Drennen plans to make the water issue a main priority.
“Personally I’ve seen the ground water,” Drennen explains. “I definitely think that something needs to be done to show the integrity of the waterlines - this town runs on ground water.”
Drennen believes a big step is being transparent with the community as a way to avoid problems with water in the future.
Both Mayor Candidate, Tony James and Council Candidate, Rob Saak have not been in direct-contact with the issue, but have heard about the growing issue within the community.
“I think one of the things we need to do is really level-set the general public, especially those who are still having problems, so everyone understands where we’re at in the process,” said Mayor Candidate, Tony James. “I think it’s really important to get everybody on the same page as far as where we’re at, what we’ve done, and what issues we’re still seeing.
“Documentation is key.”
Following the issue of brown-water, all candidates were asked their stance on Granger’s growing population, as well as future plans of infrastructure.
All candidates for Council and Mayor believe in furthering the development of Granger in order to adjust to the city’s growing population. Some ideas discussed among candidates included a potential grocery store, restaurants, a recreational center, trails, and green space.
“We need to go out and find things instead of waiting for things to come to us,” said Rob Saak, Candidate for Council. “We need to be on the forefront of this and less reactive and more proactive; we need people that are going to get their hands dirty, get out there and make things happen, so that’s what I want to do.”
Candidate for Council, Lexi Diersen brought to attention the 113.38% population increase in Granger from the year’s 2000 to 2010.
“I think that’s [population increase] very exciting, and what we need to do is look into avenues of getting businesses in town,” Diersen explained. “The Granger Economic Development Associated, we actually have just started meeting again recently, but the last meeting took place back in 2015 from the minutes, so I think that is something we really need to focus on in our town and we need to create a sub-division.”
Elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.