Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series of coverage from this week’s public forum featuring the candidates seeking seats on the York City Council in the 2022 election cycle.
YORK — Five of the six candidates seeking four seats on the York City Council participated in a public forum Monday night at the Kilgore Library, as they were asked random questions and given an opportunity to introduce themselves, as well as explain why they are seeking the office.
Participating were Jeff Pieper, Jeff McGregor, Steve Postier, Scott VanEsch and Vicki Northrop. Christi Lones was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
The event was hosted by the York News-Times and KAWL/KOOL Radio. Moderators were YNT Publisher Carrie Colburn and KAWL/KOOL Operation Manager Gene Curtis.
The candidates were given time to talk about why they were running. Then the question/answer session began – an envelope containing 16 questions was assigned to each candidate. Each envelope held the same questions. The moderators pulled random questions from the envelopes as the candidates took turns – no one knew what the question was going to be until it was asked, in order to provide fairness and as little redundancy as possible.
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Pieper was asked the following question: “According to information from the York County Development Corporation and other entities, this community is in great need of more childcare opportunities. What, if any, should the city’s role be in helping to solve this issue?” Pieper said he wasn’t sure about the relationship of the city in solving this issue but he felt that the most important thing was YCDC’s effort (for which the city financially contributes) in marketing the community and working on the issue.
The next question was the following: “The city has started the process toward building a new fire station. Money has been set aside, as a beginning of saving for the substantial investment. Do you have any feelings about where a new station could be located, how it could be funded and features that should be included?” It was posed to McGregor. “When we look at a new site, it would be nice to have a central location, but also we need to look at if we need to move more toward the interchange as well. I think we should utilize the land the city already owns, maybe where the old wastewater plant was located or at the shop area by Beaver Creek. We need to continue to build the reserves toward that.”
Postier was asked the next question, which was: “How do you feel the city handled the situation with moving the Palmer Museum? Do you feel it is being adequately utilized now and do you have any ideas about the museum’s future?” He responded: “That was an unfortunate situation in how it went down. There were a lot of hard feelings and we needed to have more communication. For me, one idea I had was envisioning maybe some sort of educational type of facility, working with the library, and maybe that could be an answer to childcare issues as well. We could maybe have education in technology for the future. There are a lot of facets, solutions that maybe could be found by these working together.”
VanEsch was also asked the childcare question that was earlier asked of Pieper. “I think that nationwide it is a difficult issue. Childcare is tough, you have to find the right people. The city I’m sure would love to help, that’s a tough one.”
Northrop was asked the following question: “The city has sold all the industrial land it owned, as all the parcels in the industrial park and east of the NPPD operations center have been purchased by private owners. Would you support the city purchasing more ground, to hold for economic development purposes?” Northrop responded, “Yes, I would. If we continue to see our sales tax revenues going up, it’s now the highest it’s ever been. If we are thinking about growing and we have the opportunity to purchase land while not breaking the bank, it would be a great asset to the city.”
Pieper was asked: “Do you feel the city’s LB 357 funds are being spent appropriately and would there be projects you would like to see happen, with the use of those special spear-headed dollars?” He responded, “I believe this has been a great program and a way to bring in great projects. We are using outside sales tax dollars which is giving us deeper pockets for positive things. It’s been a great deal all along.”
The next question went to McGregor: “This year, the city’s levy actually decreased. Do you believe the city’s real estate tax levy should be allowed to increase in order to create more revenue to be used for more projects or to grow the reserve?” McGregor responded, “Not necessarily. I don’t believe so, if it’s not necessary and not for a specific reason. Some taxation I can understand, but I’m all over smaller government and less overreach.”
Postier was also asked the question about the city starting the process of a new fire station, its location and ideas about its features. He responded, “I’m not an expert on the design of fire stations, but it does need to be centralized and there needs to be easy access to all sides of the city. We need to make sure the features are adequate for years to come. As I’ve gone door to door, I’ve heard some concerns about it being located in a residential area, due to the sirens. I started looking at locations – I don’t know where the mayor and the council have been looking at but it needs to be studied.”
VanEsch was asked, “What do you feel the city’s role should be regarding economic development? Do you feel the city has been successful in that endeavor in recent years?” He said, “I think they work hard down at YCCD, even at the Chamber. I think it would be nice for York’s location that we should be able to pull in some bigger companies to make more, better jobs in York. Finding land for economic development is crucial so we can expand and have something available if someone looks at us.”
Northrop was asked, “Is there one specific area of spending in the city’s budget that you believe is not necessary or should be cut?” She answered, “At this time, no. I think the council has been making good, well-educated decisions and have been asking good questions.”
Editor’s note: Coverage of this week’s forum will continue in the Friday publication of the York News-Times.