2 newcomers challenge longtime incumbents
There is a common thread in the race for positions 1 and 7 on the Quincy City Council.
In both races, newcomers to city politics are challenging longtime incumbents. The two newcomers looking to unseat their opponents applied earlier this year to fill a vacant council seat.
All four candidates also are longtime Quincy residents who have served the community in a variety of capacities.
In the race for position 1, local businessman Josey Ferguson is up against Councilman Scott Lybbert, who seeks his fourth term. Ferguson, 34, has been running a successful concrete contracting business for 12 years. He also is on the Quincy High School Booster Club’s board.
“I’m pretty open minded and able to work with anyone,” Ferguson said. “I wouldn’t shut anyone’s ideas down.”
Lybbert, 53, is a planning supervisor for Lamb Weston. He has lived in the Quincy area for 35 years, serving on a variety of community boards. Lybbert said he is proud that he has been an active councilman, often times traveling with city staff to conferences or to meet legislators in Olympia.
“It’s my community and I take ownership in it,” he said. “And I think people rely on me to do that.”
In the race for position 7, David Durfee Jr., a lieutenant with Grant County Fire District No. 3, is up against Councilman Manuel Guerrero, who was elected to the city council in 2001.
Durfee, 29, said he has honed his leadership skills through his professional experience. Durfee is running on a campaign that he wants to see more transparency in the city government. If he is elected, he will go to the constituents and get a pulse on the community, he said.
Guerrero, 72, said his motivation in running for a fifth term is to “represent the Spanish-speaking residents of Quincy. Not all of them are voters, but they all deserve a voice on the council.” Quincy is nearly 75 percent Hispanic.
Only Councilman Tom Harris is running unopposed for the Quincy City Council.
The Quincy Valley Post-Register asked the candidates the following questions:
The Grant County assessor’s estimated assessed value for the city of Quincy has grown again this year, largely due to the growth in the data centers. Please give the voters an idea of how you would approach spending the increase in tax dollar revenues that Quincy is experiencing.
While Ferguson would like to see the city spend those extra dollars, he believes there needs to be a “methodology” to the spending so some controls are in place. He supports spending tax dollars on infrastructure, including finishing putting sidewalks in throughout the city.
One of the biggest questions facing the city council is how it will continue to invest in the community and provide the amenities that will grow the community, Lybbert said. While he describes himself as a saver, he also supports taking advantage of the growing revenues before they stop.
Lybbert added that he is sensitive to the “growth issue” facing Quincy because some residents believe the city is growing too fast. “We are growing faster than we ever imagined,” he said. “But I am sensitive to that.”
“As long as you’re spending that money with a focus, it’s OK,” Durfee said. However, if a plan for those monies is not developed, then it may be necessary to save it in the short term until that plan has been developed, he said.
Guerrero believes the city council over the years has done a good job in investing in a variety of improvements, including repairing the streets and upgrading infrastructure. He would like to see the city continue to use those monies to make improvements throughout the city.
The city in most recent years has built a new library and animal shelter, it’s made improvements to city streets and to Lauzier Park, and it is currently building a new police station. If you could dream a little, what would be on your wish list?
High on Ferguson’s list of priorities is a recreation center. He’d like to see the city build a 300,000-square-foot recreation center, with more employees to man it. By giving the kids something to do, the city is doing its part to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, Ferguson said.
Lybbert spoke of building “destination” areas for the public to enjoy. That can mean creating a meeting place for the two bus lines in town or building upon public spaces by adding such amenities as a skate or bike park or a recreation center, he said.
“We need to focus on destinations,” Lybbert said. “Make whatever we do a destination.”
As for Guerrero, he would like to see more retail stores and affordable housing in Quincy, as well as continued road improvements, an emphasis on law enforcement and more programs for the youth and seniors.
And high on Durfee’s list of improvements is not a new building but enhancing the quality of life for families in Quincy. That may mean investing in streets, parks, recreation programs or even a walking trail, he said. It’s important to get the public’s input on how to address this question, he said.
“I don’t dream of building,” Durfee said. “I dream of quality of life.”
With the growth in business that Quincy is experiencing, it is also seeing more traffic congestion, especially at 13th Avenue. What option do you support that would alleviate that congestion?
Both Guerrero and Lybbert support building a roundabout at 13th Avenue to keep traffic moving through town. However, a roundabout won’t solve the problem, Lybbert warned.
There are also traffic problems at various points along the west entrance to town, including at 10th Avenue and the main intersection through town, Lybbert said. The city needs to look at expanding that section of highway to four lanes and building better medians, he said.
Ferguson doesn’t support building a roundabout in town because of the large amount of truck traffic traveling through Quincy. Instead, he’d like to see Highway 28 widened in parts of Quincy so more turn lanes and a traffic light can be added, he said.
There’s been much talk over the years about roundabouts and stoplights, so it’s disappointing the city hasn’t reached a solution yet, Durfee said. It’s time to get “all heads together” and come out with a clear solution to this issue, he said.
“Anything is better than what’s going on now, which is nothing,” he said. “We should do what’s best for the community in the long term.”