Hammond candidate forum draws crowdAround 40 people braved the cold to attend the Hammond candidate forum last Saturday.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
Around 40 people braved the cold to attend the Hammond candidate forum last Saturday.
The forum, held at the Hammond Golf Club, gave residents a chance to find out what candidates thought about important issues related to the village.
After each candidate introduced themselves, they each chose a blank envelope containing a question.
Mark Benton’s question was: “What would you do to ensure effective and professional communication between departments in the village, as well as among the board, village departments and the general public?”
Benton said there is currently a lack of communication in the village. He said transparency is missing and monthly reports would help track what’s happening in each of the departments. He also said the board minutes should be updated on the website in a timely manner.
Ron Kappers’ question was: “Several municipalities include local residents and community members on their committees. The Village of Hammond has only one such committee — the Planning Commission. The disbanded sewer committee also included two community members for discussion purposes. Do you support the idea of adding non-elected community members to village committees? If so, should they be allowed to vote in committee business. Why or why not?”
Kappers said he didn’t think there should be.
“Why have so many people on all these boards and everything and they don’t have a say so on anything?” he said.
He said the board controls everything in the end, so it’s important that residents vote wisely in the next election.
“If the people don’t have faith in who they elect, then who are they going to have faith in?” he asked.
Incumbent Wally Graf’s question was: “If you are elected to the board, what are your goals for the Village of Hammond during your two-year term?”
Graf said watching the budget is the major goal. He said it’s important the board tracks expenses monthly. He also noted the importance of revitalizing Main Street and stabilizing the sewer and water rates.
Brenda Monroe’s question was: “What are your ideas for ways the village could cut expenses out of the budget?”
She said though the village is operating fairly lean, the number of special meetings the board has conducted should be reduced. She said there were 16 special meetings last year and no action was taken during five of those meetings, some of which were on consecutive days.
She suggested the board be more conservative when scheduling meetings.
“Every little place where you can save time, you save money,” she said.
She said the board should also follow-up on items in the meeting minutes, since village money is associated with some items.
Mary Rivard’s question was: “How do you plan to promote the industrial park as a desirable location for new businesses and industries?”
Rivard said there has to be a cooperative effort between the new businesses and village.
She said with good marketing, and not making potential businesses “jump through hoops,” the industrial park should grow.
Vince Trudell’s question was: “The Davis Street construction project will be starting later this year. How do you think the village could support the residents and businesses on Davis Street during this time?”
Trudell said the best way to support the residents is to complete the project as cheaply as possible.
“But that doesn’t work out so well for the businesses,” he said.
He said the businesses may have to take on some added expenses, but they should consider the revamped Main Street a tool that will help Hammond grow in the long term.
“Information, communication and efficiency – that’s how they’re going to be able to help the Davis Street project,” he said.
Each candidate could respond to any of the questions after the intended candidate answered their question. The candidates took advantage of the ability to chime in.
All candidates were also asked for their opinion on creating a policy for the use of the village hall by residents or non-profit groups.
The consensus among candidates was that residents should be able to use the village hall as long as facility-use rules are followed.
Another forum is scheduled to take place at the Hammond Showcase on March 24.
The forums are sponsored by the HELP Committee (Hammond Events, Leadership and Planning).