Candidate Forum Held in Atlantic Thursday
November 4th, 2011 by Ric Hanson
A little more than a dozen people attended Thursday night’s candidate forum in Atlantic. Those who spoke and answered questions at the event, sponsored by the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, included all five candidates for a vacancy position created by the death in August of Cass County Supervisor Chuck Kinen, two candidates for two open positions on the Atlantic Parks and Recreation’s Board of Directors, and candidates for the Atlantic City Council.
Each of the candidates was asked their opinion on the current property tax rates in the County. All of the candidates said the taxes are neither too-high or too-low, with the exception of Supervisor candidate at Pat McCurdy. McCurdy, a life-long resident of Cass County who farmed for over 40-years before becoming semi-retired and a landlord of rental properties, said commercial property taxes are too high. McCurdy says commercial property is taxed at 100-percent valuation. Residential properties, he says, are taxed at 50-percent, and should not be taxed any higher, because they cannot generate any income. McCurdy says Ag property taxes, are too low.
The two Atlantic City Council candidates were asked what their top goals would be, if elected to fill the two open seats on the Council. Chris Jimmerson, who is running unopposed for Councilman Kern Miller’s 1st Ward seat, said keeping the recreational areas, such as parks, up-to-date are important to him. Jimmerson said he wants to make the roads are maintained, and the downtown area is a “hub” of activity where people want to come to go shopping. Ashley Hayes, who is unopposed in her bid for Councilperson Pat Simmons’ 3rd Ward Atlantic City Council seat, said as a young person, she wants to make sure opportunities are available for young people and families. She says improve the recreational scene, bringing in more jobs and promoting the downtown area will bring young people back to the community after they attend college.
Each of the Board of Supervisor candidates said their main priorities if elected would be to keep the budget under control while trying to maintain the essential services, such as mental health care. Don Lappe, who has served in local law enforcement for more than 40-years, said he understands what it would mean to lose the Behavioral Health Unit at the Cass County Memorial Hospital, if it falls to the budget axe. He says it will cause a burden and affect other agencies within the county, including the Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies will have to transport persons with mental health issues to other counties. That he says, will cost the county money. Supervisor candidate Jeff Richter says he will work to bring jobs to the county, to keep people here instead of having them drive out of the county for employment.