Chatfield City Council candidates, from left, are Robert Peterson, Ken Jacobson, Dave Frank and Rita Charlton.
Chatfield City Council candidates, from left, are Robert Peterson, Ken Jacobson, Dave Frank and Rita Charlton.
Chatfield's incumbent city council members, Ken Jacobson and David Frank, and mayor, Don Hainlen, joined three members of the community - council candidates Rita Charlton and Robert L. Peterson and mayoral candidate John McBroom - in a candidates' forum held at Chatfield's city hall last Wednesday evening. Brenda Johnson, a former council member, served as moderator of the forum, posing questions to each candidate.

Each candidate was given a list of questions to answer before appearing at the forum, and before tackling their answers, each introduced himself or herself and gave a short personal history and an explanation of his or her interest in running for city government.

Introductions

McBroom stated he is a Chatfield native, is married and has three children, is a member of the carpenters' union, and loves his hometown and "wants to keep it a great town for years to come."

Hainlen cited his status as the school district's former superintendent and his two years served as mayor, as well as his wish to continue assisting the city in renewing its economic development and business opportunities. He said he "would like to help complete those projects."

Council candidate Charlton has lived in Chatfield for 12 years and came to town because her husband, Randy, is the pastor at the Baptist church. She has three children, and shared her "willingness to learn...I like new experiences."

Frank, a 13-year Chatfield resident, has been married to his wife, Jess, for 10 years. He stated he is "running for city council again because I have almost four years on the council and still have a lot to learn about how the city operates, but I feel I've done a fair job over the last four years."

Jacobson, a retired Chatfield teacher, is a representative of the city council to the CCTV board and is running for city council for the third time because "I believe there are projects I'd like to see completed...the community has given me a lot, and I want to give back."

Peterson shared he has lived in Chatfield for over 50 years and has four children, has been a member of the fire department and the Lions Club, and wishes to participate in city government.

Questions

The first question Johnson posed was "What do you consider to be the greatest challenges facing Chatfield?"

The consensus was economic development is one of the foremost challenges, followed by maintaining the city's infrastructure and its ability to garner revenue to uphold city services.

Hainlen related he feels that economic development and "working to attract businesses" have great bearing on the city's future, followed by the Chatfield Center for the Arts' (CCA) board's role in creating opportunities for recreation, which is "critical in the community...it's a 'quality of life' thing," the construction of new homes and the restoration of the city's sewer system as the challenges to take on.

McBroom said, "The biggest thing is our water system and getting new homes built so we can recoup revenue, and keeping local businesses going. If we all work together and do what we can, we'll keep the town thriving."

Council members answered the second question, "What are the greatest opportunities in Chatfield, and on what can we capitalize?"

Charlton cited "great parks and the hiking trail...I think it's a great town with a lot of opportunities."

Frank answered, "The CCA has grants available that committees can apply for to help finance the project so that it's not as dependent on the city, and there are numerous residential and commercial lots available in town."

Jacobson named "an opportunity to garner more people due to our location" near Rochester but hidden between the walls of a valley. "We have restaurants, grocery stores, things for people to do, and the CCA provides aspects for people to take advantage of without having to go to Rochester."

Peterson's reply was "tourism has been big over the years, with the hiking trail, the ATV trail, the Chatfield Brass Band, the Pease and veterans' museums...but I think we have to work closely with our Chatfield Commercial Club."

Mayoral candidates rounded out the answers, with Hainlen saying, "One of the best things we have is our location close to Rochester, but we also have room for hunting, fishing...all 'quality of life things' that everyone wants. There's renewed interest in downtown, and we need to continue to tell our story so that people want to move here."

McBroom's statement was the CCA, housing lots and "the Twiford Street project" are assets to the community.

Candidates also answered the question, "What economic development should the city regulate to help the local economy?"

Councilor Frank replied that he feels the city should remain a provider of licenses and a resource for businesses that exist or are in the process of opening or expanding, but not to get "our fingers" too deep into downtown businesses. "We want to be there when businesses need you for information and resources, and having a much fuller downtown makes the city look so much better," he said.

Jacobson stated, "I like the team effort in regulating, but we need to try to perform as a team...the last four years have been difficult for downtown, and people haven't been able to do things they'd like to...I feel the city is part of a team to keep the businesses functioning at a high level."

Peterson agreed with Jacobson, but added, "The city should be a little more active with the business people...it should do more."

Hainlen's response, "The EDA (economic development authority) is our contact with the businesses, and it's essential to maintain our infrastructure...we're a conduit to help businesses." He observed a recent council action changed overnight parking to aid a business owner who wanted clear parking spaces for customers who come for breakfast.

McBroom's answer was the community should "let the business owners know that the EDA is there and that it's a valuable tool. If you own a business here, you're also likely to live here."

Other questions the candidates answered included what the city's top three priorities should be if they are elected, and what their final statement would be.

Peterson expressed his opinion that the city should concentrate on rewarding property owners who maintain their premises and extending welcome either in person or by refurbishing the town's welcome sign. He said, "Clean up, fix up, paint up, praise people who keep their property up."

Charlton sees "Chatfield as an attractive little town," and pledged to lend her assistance wherever needed.

Frank listed his goals, including "rejuvenating the downtown, updating the sewer and water, and getting a new pool," and took into account "there are code changes, but if it's done right, we could figure out how to get one."

Jacobson agreed that the pool and street repairs are necessary, and that he would like to continue being a part of the team that makes Chatfield great.

McBroom spoke of "issues at the swimming pool, which is in dire need of repair," water pressure problems on the north end of town, and attracting new businesses.

Hainlen wants "a thoughtful approach to repairing our infrastructure - we can't continue to kick the can down the street much longer, because there are sewer lines that have degraded," and wishes to continue developing the Chatfield Center for the Arts "because it's a stimulus for so many things."

Finally, candidates encouraged citizens to "get out and vote," making wise choices for their city.

The forum was recorded by Craig Manahan of CCTV and will be shown on CCTV several times before the Tuesday, Nov. 6, Election Day.