Friday, October 21, 2011

Pierce candidate forum

By Judy O’Brien

The Pierce Candidate Forum was held Tuesday evening at Pierce Community Center with 50 people attending. The forum was sponsored by the Pierce GEM Committee.

Justin Karst and Carmen Syed are candidates for mayor. Mike Vaughn, Patricia Jacks, Harry Stenzel and Michelle Nelson are running for two positions on Pierce City Council.

The evening was facilitated by Loren Whitten-Kaboth. Candidates were asked their background and goals for the city.

Carmen Syed was unable to attend, as her son Jonathan was being awarded the rank of Eagle Scout Tuesday night. Loren read Syed’s statement, which said she was asked to help and is willing to serve. Carmen has experience in running other organizations within the community and is a business owner.

Candidates were asked, “what was their vision for Pierce.”

Justin Karst “wants to help the people of Pierce and feels he can relate to people, community and family.” He “will try to make Pierce a better place” and is “able to make compromises when necessary.”

Mike Vaughn has raised his family here, his children went to Timberline schools and his main goal is for the community to be aware of what’s happening in City Council.

Patricia Jacks has spent 25 years in Pierce, is a RN and works in Pierce for CVHC. Her goals include upgrading the streets. She also feels government “should be a facilitator for the people.”

Harry Stenzel has lived here most of his life and is self employed in road construction. His main goal is street upgrades. He also feels there are problems with nuisance ordinances that need to be solved.

Michelle Nelson has lived in Pierce 20 years and graduated from Timberline Schools. She feels Pierce is “a great place to live” and her goals are to stay involved and support the community. She will foster economic growth which would also help retain youth in the community.

A question and answer period followed. Answers reflect a brief summation of candidates’ responses.
Question: What experience do you have that would help the community? Nelson – background in education and work within the community. Three years as court clerk. Stenzel – 66 years in Pierce and previous council member. Jacks – deal with people on a day-to-day basis, have ER experience which teaches one to deal with problems effectively. Karst – have engineering experience, I believe “can always make it better.”

Question: Should Judgetown pay their fair share of water bill? All candidates shared the idea that Judgetown needed to pay their fair share and candidates were willing to “go all the way” to see this was accomplished.

Question: Event that caused you to run? Stenzel – streets need attention. Nelson – problem on her street that was solved by council; and issue with Chinese Cemetery. Vaughn – street maintenance and Chinese Cemetery. Jacks – feels one should help out when one can. Karst – protect future of Pierce.

Question: What would you do when you have a stance different from friends? Karst – stand by myself. Vaughn – what is best for Pierce. Stenzel – ask advice from friends. Nelson – would be representing citizens of Pierce so would ask their opinions.

Question: Would you change the way council meetings are run? Nelson – would leave as is. Stenzel, Jacks, Karst and Vaughn all said the mayor handles the meetings. All agreed meetings are run effectively.

Question: What is your top priority? Vaughn – streets, drains, snowplowing. Jacks – streets. Stenzel – streets. Nelson – economic growth. Karst – every issue that comes up in City Council.

Current Mayor Greg Gerot commended candidates for their desire to assist in community issues and said he was pleased to see community interest in this forum.

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