Sidney Mayoral Forum Held Oct. 24, Election Nov. 7
November 1, 2017 | View PDF
More than 140 people gathered for a mayoral forum at the Richland County Extension Office on Tuesday, October 24. Hosted by the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, the three mayoral candidates partook in the final of three such forums designed to give voters a better view of their options this election cycle.
Brad Faulhaber, history and government teacher at Sidney High School, asked questions on behalf of the Chamber, some of which were provided by high school students.
Among a whole barrage of questions posited during the evening, each candidate was asked to speak to the topic of drug and alcohol abuse and what they, as the mayor, could do to help the problem.
Norby answered with certainty, “I am one who can speak on behalf of this, because I’ve budgeted for this the last four years. Some have accused me of showing favoritism to the police department, and I probably have, because I want to see it fully staffed…I believe that the police department and sheriff’s department are working together.”
Everett answered the question regarding drugs and alcohol by responding, “Kindergarten is not too young to start educating children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is certainly true….As far as the police department is concerned, I haven’t looked up the numbers. As long as [the police] feel that they have tools and training necessary they need, we can help.”
Asked if they would be willing to cut the budget and how they would make such decisions, Norby responded with characteristic specificity, “We already went through a year where we had to make major cuts. We had to cut 350 thousand dollars out of our budget, and we’ll have to do the same thing next year. We have to move employees where they need to be. Anything that we lacked was in the general fund. Anything that we can cut coming out of the general fund, we already have. Moving forward, starting an ice and snow district will help so it won’t have to come from the general fund.”
Everett didn’t have a specific answer to that question, explaining, “I can’t pretend to understand the city budget. I have not personally looked at it. Before making any decisions I like to gather information to be as knowledgeable as possible.”
Debra Gilbert said, “The first thing I would do is listen to the voice of the employee…I would order and prioritize the projects and evaluate the projects and the resources. We would have to - at that point - we would have to do the documentation and follow the protocol we have in place.”
When asked how they would build cooperation with other groups, Everett answered, “I think communication is key and positive relationships. Teamwork makes the train work.”
Gilbert answered, “Well there are plenty of boards out there. We’ve got the Board of Health, the Kiwanis and Lions, and you’ve got all sorts of places to go.”
“When I became mayor in 2014,” Norby said in response, “The first thing I did was sit down and meet with economic development and the Chamber, places like that to see where it was, and it wasn’t good…To me, it’s involvement and involving every person around you so they know what you’re doing and you know what they’re doing…Getting to know people and what they need is the biggest thing to me. I go to their meetings, and they go to my meetings. You get more accomplished that way.”
The jovial mood between the candidates seemed temporarily halted when asked how to recruit and retain quality professional staff in the city office.
Gilbert said, “I feel for the treasurer position, you really need someone with an accounting background…when you have one person doing two jobs, I don’t feel that person can do it to the best of their ability. So, I think trying to recruit professional staff is difficult. You will probably have to train them. You will probably have to pay them a little bit more.”
Norby responded forcefully, “Actually, it’s a very good question. It’s always an issue that City Hall has taken a beating over the last several years. In my honest opinion, I have professional staff. I wouldn’t want to spend one single day spending taxpayer dollars without having the people around me I do have around me. I got a gentleman here with 35 years of experience whose knowledge I have and I can count on. I have a public works director of ten years, and a lady doing two positions, but if I’m going to have to pay an accountant 35 dollars an hour, where do you get the money to do that? I got somebody doing a way better job than any accountant can do it…to me, I really take it personal and I’m criticized for it, because you can’t find anyone better for the positions than the people we now have.”
“I believe in people. I believe in their abilities,” Everett answered simply. “I believe in everyone having the tools they need to do the best jobs they can. I believe in everyone becoming the best versions of themselves they can.”