City council candidates debate zoning laws in forum

Daniel Andrews

Daniel Andrews

Brookings City Council candidates debated several issues at a forum for the upcoming city seat elections Sat., March 19.

Vying to take the three-year position from Mike McClemens, a Brookings businessman, are: Gary Aquiar, a professor of political science at SDSU; Michael Bartley, an optician; and Ginger Thomson, a business co-owner.

Reaching for the one-year position from Tom Bozied, a Brookings businessman, is Michael Reitz, a director of productions at Rainbow Play Systems and a member of the Brookings Fire Department.

Some of the topics discussed at the forum were the growth of business in Brookings, the development of the airport outside of town and re-organizing the City Council meetings to increase productivity. All members of the council agreed that more needed to be done to attract people to the city, for business or otherwise.

According to Reitz, the Brookings Fire Department, Police Department and the Streets Commission received funds that they needed just recently. He feels that this will help bring more business to the city. His opponent Tom Bozied, who has had five years of experience and stressed the term “micromanagement”, felt that the council needs to be able to handle itself better in the issues it selects and be given more power to do so.

The three-year candidates had differing agendas. Aguiar stated that he had no agenda to speak of, but merely wants an ethical council that would do the best thing for the city. Thomson used the phrase “high quality of life” numerous times in her answers and applied it to the growth of Brookings. “If the city grows, then the quality of life will become better,” was her overall message. Bartly’s main theme of topic was the restructuring of meeting habits of the council. He stated that the council meets twice a month, once to plan out actions, and the second meeting is used to implement the decisions they made the meeting prior. This has become inadequate, he thought, because of new issues coming up during the “action meeting” and they would then have to plan those, and also they would sometimes take action during the planning meeting.

He figured that they should have one meeting a month, half of it would be used to plan courses of action and vote on the matter and the other half would be used to act. He said he hoped to enact this decision if elected.

Another topic that came up was what to do with the airport outside of town. The council was split on this decision, some saying that they should grant additional funding to the airport to bring more business to the city. Others thought they should abandon the airport, stating that if people needed to catch a plane, they could easily travel to Sioux Falls and catch a plane.

Members of the community were able to ask questions on topics they were concerned about.

The elections will be held Tues., April 12.