Ward 3 candidates face off in forum ahead of election

by Charles Gerian

The Blackwell Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a City Council candidate forum last week, days ahead of yesterday’s Ward 3 primary election between Robert E. Husted, Josh Gillman and Phillip Logan.

The forum began with introductions from the candidates. All three parties thanked T.J. Greenfield and the Chamber of Commerce for hosting the event.

In Husted’s opening statement, he said he and his family have always been in Blackwell, and it was his desire to see the town adopt a 5- to10-year plan for where Blackwell wants to be. He said he wants to put the citizens first. He said Blackwell was a clean and friendly community, and that his more than 30 years in the military had prepared him to properly serve his community.

Logan said Blackwell was a great town in a great location, and that he wanted to bring more business in. He urged Blackwell to look at itself and ask “where do we want to go from here?”

Gillman said he wants to build a better Blackwell, and seeks to improve streets, water and infrastructure.

The first question, asked by moderator Megan Holden, was what made the candidates qualified. Husted said he has spent time around leaders studying military budgeting and policy and has learned a lot from that. Logan said that he has worked all his life and knows how to work with people and industries to get things done. Gillman said he excels in leadership and people skills.

The next question was what the candidates’ top priorities for Blackwell were.

Gillman said he wanted to bring more to the Event Center, which he said he loves. He said he wants to see the library and museum become more prominent points for the community. Husted said he wants to welcome more people to Blackwell and take advantage of Blackwell’s location and potential for industry. Logan said Blackwell’s biggest asset is the people, and he wants to bring the community together.

When asked about code enforcement, the candidates all agreed that Blackwell needs to refocus their enforcement, and all agreed that codes were not “enforced fairly.”

Another question was what the candidates thought about the city’s desire to turn the old Red Cross building at 13th Street and Ferguson Avenue into a secondary fire department. The question also asked how the city was paying for it.

Husted replied that the people need to see where the money is coming from, and that he wasn’t sure there was a need for another department location. “I don’t see the issue with the current [department],” he said.

The other two agreed that financial transparency was key.

A question from the audience asked for the candidates’ thoughts on the city manager’s ability to spend up to $5,000 without seeking Council approval, which can be used for various purchases such as equipment or resources. All three candidates agreed that the City of Blackwell needed tighter spending control.

Diane Spry withdrew from the race before the forum. To see results of Tuesday’s election, check out next week’s edition of The Journal-Tribune.