Infrastructure, housing among topics addressed on City Commission Candidate Forum Featured

Todd Maddox (from left), Becky Smith and Rob Gilligan appeared on KVOE's City Commission Candidate Forum on Tuesday. Todd Maddox (from left), Becky Smith and Rob Gilligan appeared on KVOE's City Commission Candidate Forum on Tuesday. Chuck Samples/KVOE News

Two incumbents and a political newcomer came to the KVOE studios for the first of two City Commission Candidate Forums on Tuesday.

Incumbents Rob Gilligan and Becky Smith joined newcomer Todd Maddox, answering questions ranging from traditional infrastructure, technological infrastructure, radio system upgrades, economic diversification and quality of life. Questions about traditional infrastructure followed a second set of utility rate increases, and all three candidates said the rate increases were justified -- although Gilligan and Smith say the increases are not as high as other communities are going through. Gilligan says the city needs to use sound fiscal policy when it looks at large-scale projects, including the use of bonds.

Smith says below- and above-ground infrastructure needs to be maintained, and recent events have highlighted that need.

Maddox's priority list starts below ground.

On technological infrastructure, all candidates in studio said it's becoming highly important for the city to enhance broadband and pursue other cutting-edge technology, even if it means listening to technology companies from elsewhere.

Housing also came up at several times. Maddox says the city needs to consider rental conditions when that conversation comes up.

Smith says code enforcement will have to be part of any upcoming discussions.

Gilligan says the city needs a variety of home styles and sizes to help bolster growth.

When it comes to diversifying the local economy, Smith says the city has done well with production jobs. She would like to see more white-collar jobs, notably with software, coming to town. Maddox highlighted the need to focus on health care and technology.

Candidate Forum returns Thursday with the three remaining City Commission candidates -- Joni Austenfeld, Susan Brinkman and Lisa Brittain -- appear at 10:06 am. Forums on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 will feature candidates for the Emporia School Board.

If you missed Tuesday's forum or would like to listen again, find the program in the Audio Vault.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:03