Candidates for mayor field questions at public forum
A fiery debate it was not, but at a forum for Quincy mayor candidates on Oct. 5, a formal event organized by the Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce, the public got to hear Paul Worley and Scott Lybbert respond to a wide variety of questions.
Several of the 40 or so attendees afterward said the forum was very productive and helped them get to know the candidates and decide about voting.
“I think it helped me make up my mind,” said Pat Husband, who attends a lot of city meetings and volunteers in town. “I was kind of on the fence … I don’t think I am anymore.”
Ballots will arrive in mailboxes soon.
The evening event was moderated by Brian Kuest, who is a past president of the chamber of commerce, and the questions were presented by the chamber’s current president, Lynn Bales, and John Rylaarsdam, who does not have an official role with the chamber. The questions had been submitted by the public, and later, as time permitted, questions submitted by the audience were put to the candidates.
The event was not a debate. Each candidate was allowed the same time to respond to each question. Their responses were thoughtful and respectful of each other – there was no mudslinging.
The first question given was about the candidates’ plans for the police department. Lybbert said officer retention and replacement are top issues. Worley said the community has to help police by supplying another set of eyes.
There were questions about the traffic roundabout planned for State Route 28 and on 13th Avenue SW; infrastructure development and expansion; crime and gang activity; a proposed public safety building on the north side of town; emergency services; tourism; and attracting more business to Quincy.
To the question on how the candidates would balance their time commitments to their employer and to the city, Worley said he is basically a workaholic and it won’t be an issue. Worley works for Woodard & Curran, the contracting company that operates the Quincy’s wastewater treatment facilities. Lybbert, who works for Lamb Weston, said he also works long hours and is passionate about his work and the city, but his employer has been very supportive and has made room for him to campaign and pursue the office of mayor.
To a question about the candidates’ suggestions for the city to encourage the two major cultural groups here to learn from each other and work together, Worley said great strides have been made and he wants more communication with and involvement of Hispanics in city affairs. Lybbert said he envisions a celebration or two in town on Hispanic themes, and the planned recreation center could also help, especially if it has an indoor soccer field.
Other questions focused on housing options, local youth, the greatest strengths of Quincy and the developing water reuse projects.
Asked how people benefit from living in Quincy and how does it make their lives better, Lybbert pointed to the good work of churches and volunteers and is concerned that they are not thanked enough. Plus, the relatively advanced age of some of the volunteers makes him wonder whether there are others ready to step up and volunteer. Worley said Quincy is a friendly little town and listed some of its strong points, including the seasons, schools, fire department and port district, among others.
Asked whether the candidates want more growth in town and what will that growth look like, they both said the data center ball is rolling – the city doesn’t have to actively recruit data centers to build here, because they seek out the city these days. Lybbert said Quincy needs to keep growing – just sitting is the same as dying – but it could slow down. Worley said the water system under development will allow more employers to move to town and will mean a lot of new jobs in town.
Asked how they foresee building more community pride, Worley said as the town grows it will snowball, and it is going on its own – people already bleed Jackrabbit green. Lybbert said local people have great ideas, and community pride will come from them.
The final question was, “Why do you want to be mayor?”
“Not because I think it is going to be fun” Lybbert said.
He said he gets concerned when other people put the community in a bad light; while the city has to recognize its pitfalls and gaps and work together to fill them, “We need to promote the things that we do good.” He also said he prides himself on listening. “I feel I could make a difference in a positive way.”
Worley said he knows what is going on in the city as a council member so long, and with him as mayor, things will go smoother and faster, to keep the ship going the right way.
“I just want to keep the town on the right track,” Worley said. “I would hate for it to falter and end up costing us a bunch in the end.”
Each candidate was then allowed to make closing remarks. Lybbert said both candidates have plenty of years on the city council, but he emphasized his time spent with the mayor, talking about city government and gaining pearls of wisdom. Worley in his closing remarks emphasized his time in the council’s meetings and ended with a slogan: It’s not the size of the sign; it’s the name on the sign.
About the event
In the middle of the event, everyone was given a break. The chamber had asked Glenda Bishop, CEO of Quincy Valley Medical Center, to speak briefly after the intermission, and she gave a rousing talk about exciting developments as QVMC charts its future. She likewise answered questions.
Reflecting on the event after it was over, panelist John Rylaarsdam said, “I thought it was a great opportunity, it was good to see this in our community again. … And I thought Glenda (Bishop) did a great job.”
Debbie Werner, who is very new to Quincy, having arrived with her husband, Michael Werner as he started teaching at High Tech High this fall, was very positive about the candidates forum.
“I admire anyone who will run for office anymore,” Werner said. “We have two great candidates, a growing community, and new people who are interested in that community … I thought the questions were excellent.”
Other attendees said the event was helpful because they could listen to the candidates and see them responding to questions.
Lybbert and Worley are the two remaining candidates in the race for Quincy mayor after a primary with four candidates. Election Day is Nov. 7.
By Dave Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org