The Roundup -

Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

On Thursday evening, a packed house at the Elks Lodge witnessed the three Mayoral candidates engage in a lively question and answer session.

Mayor Rick Norby, Serina Everett, and Debra Gilbert fielded questions regarding the future of Sidney and their potential methods of leadership. The forum was created by the Sidney Young Professionals and the candidates were not given the questions to review beforehand. This led to some very genuine, and often comical but good-natured, answers.

While the public was not allowed to engage with the candidates during the question and answer period, which lasted roughly an hour, residents did have a chance to meet with them afterwards.

The forum was moderated by Leslie Messer, the Richland Economic Development Executive Director. Messer kept a tight schedule and each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves, two minutes to answer the question given, and finally a two minute wrap-up afterwards.

Each candidate introduced themselves, their family, and ties to Sidney. In this way, all three individuals were relatively similar; Children, supportive spouses, volunteer efforts. But with the very first question, the divergence in style became apparent.

Messer began the forum by asking, "What do you perceive is Sidney's most pressing issue and how do you plan to tackle that?"

Mayor Norby focused on water and sewer issues, Everett stated a concern for different community groups to work together, and Gilbert sought a stronger alliance between the city and its employees.

There were eight questions in total, and some were tougher for candidates to answer than others. Throughout the forum, each exhibited their own strengths and weaknesses while remaining extremely civil, cooperative, and courteous.

Mayor Norby took the upper hand in questions dealing with legislative, agricultural, and financial aspects due to his experience as Mayor since 2014. Everett and Gilbert, the two newcomers to the race, were more focused on the revitalization of downtown and tourism.

The candidates differed greatly on how to get Sidney recognized by the Western side of the state, and how to get more tax dollars over to Eastern Montana. Mayor Norby believed the best route was to get leaders from Western Montana to Sidney via bus tours and trips, while Everett stated, "To get the Western side of the state to recognize us, I think we need to have a physical presence there."

Gilbert took a different approach and offered an idea of making Sidney stand out by taking advantage of the fishing tourism sector.

In the end, during their 2-minute sign off, each candidate recapped how their strengths and experiences would make them the best Mayor come November 7th. Mayor Norby leaned on his experience, Everett promoted transparency and a youthful outlook to Sidney's future, and Gilbert made mention of her strategic plan for Sidney.

The Sidney Young Professionals appeared to have had a very successful forum, which was a new experience for each candidate, and hopes to continue this type of event in the future.


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