Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2017

City Ward 4 candidates share their views

Oct 12, 2017

Gaal: ‘Do what the constituents want’

 

 

Bob Gaal believes the sytem in Washington lacks participation, whether it is in voting or people being aware of what is going on. He said he feels it is time for him to become involved by running for the open city council seat in Ward 4.

Gaal graduated from WACO High School and attended Iowa Wesleyan College, graduating in 1987. He has been self-employed most of his life. Currently he is a salesman for Sitler’s LED Supplies. He also co-owns Lebowski’s in Washington. While not having served in any position in city government, he said he is eager to learn what it entails.

“I want to see done what the constituents want to see done,” Gaal said. “That is really why I am running. I think so many people get elected to a position and it becomes their agenda and not the agenda of the people they represent. I don’t have an agenda. My agenda is to listen to the people I represent.”

He believes what is missing throughout government, from federal to local, is representatives listening to their constituents. He said that isn’t for the people.

He hopes to set up avenues on social media that he can receive input from constituents. Gaal said that in daily life not only is he busy, his constients are busy and he wants to be able to provide an avenue they can give input any time. He also said this would be a good way to make sure the constituents are informed about the issues.

While Gaal said he is unsure where some of the issues the city will be facing in the coming term stand, which is one reason he decided to run for office. He mentioned the importance of projects involving a new fire station and a new city hall. He also said he didn’t know where the city stood with the YMCA of Washington County.

“Hopefully I become more aware of what those things are,” he said. “Anything that has to do with Washington, Iowa, be it city or county, I want to work to promote the growth of it.”

Gaal said over the last couple of year he has been unhappy seeing business leaving town. He spoke of a contract to run the recycling center being given to an out of county business and a real estate firm from iowa City being hired to sell the former library.

He stressed economic development in Washington is important. He said housing is a concern now, so maybe some new Tax Increment Finance programs to encourage development in the are may be a good idea. He said brining industry to town requires people.

“It’s all becoming automated,” Gaal said. “It isn’t that we aren’t doing things, it is that we need less people to do so.”

He said beginning trade programs in town may be a way to increase the number of jobs.

Gaal said more important to him than people voting for him is that people just get out and vote. He said the turnout should be higher.

“Look at the people running and their backgrounds,” he said. “I think I’m different than most. I’m really coming in to get more people involved.”

 

Gault: ‘Bring Washington life back’

As he was turning 40, Christopher Gault looked back on many of the things in Washington he grew up with that are no longer here. Because of that, he decided to run for the open Ward 4 seat on the Washington City Council.

Gault grew up in Washington. He graduated from Washington High School and attended college classes at Kirkwood Community College. During his education, he learned he had a passion for working with people with disabilities. He worked with the disabled for about 20 years, before moving on to Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, where he is an assistant golf professional. He has worked there for three years.

“In my younger years, I grew up when we had A & W; we had A.T. Arthurs; we had the pool; we had the skating rink; we had things that made Washington great,” he said. “It made a small town great. I remember as a kid going out and being out until the streetlights came on and not worrying about being bored. Now you start to see kids roaming the streets with nothing to do.”

He said one of his goals is to find things for young people in Washington to do. He wants to “bring Washington life back to Washington” and make things more like they were when he was young. He said he also wants to see thriving businesses in the area. Growing up he said there were plenty of businesses in town, which are no longer here.

Graduating with the Class of 1996, Gault said there are few students from the class who remained in the area. He hopes to see people come back to the community.

If elected, Gault hopes to work with the other council members to find ways to get businesses to look at the city’s industrial park. He hopes to see the park filled, which helps take the tax burden off residents. He said that he had bought his house a year ago and tax rates had already gone up.

“We need to start putting feelers out on who is growing and who is expanding and where they are expanding to,” he said, when asked how to grow the industrial park. “They sky is the limit.”

In working with the community, Gault said he regularly talks with people in his ward now, when he is out for walks. He hopes to expand this is elected, saying he will always be available for his constituents.

In the coming term, Gault believes the controversial fireworks issue will come up again. He also said the budget will be an important issue. He said many people have expressed concern about rising water rates. He said another issue will be keeping property taxes low. Another issue Gault identified was the future of the YMCA of Washington County.

Gault said if elected he would always remain open to constuent input.

“I’m a people person,” he said. “They can come to me and I am going to listen to them. I’m going to vote for what they want. I’m going to talk to them and vote by listening to their thoughts.”

 

 

Stigers: ‘I think I have a lot to offer’

Francis Stigers said he hopes to make life better for the people of Washington, which is why he decided to run for a vacant Ward 4 seat on the Washington City Council during the Nov. 7 election.

Stigers has worked with the Washington city government several times in the past. He spent two years on the planning and zoning commission before being appointed to the city park board. He graduated from Washington High School in 1980. Stigers said he is the single parent of five children. He later earned an AA degree from Kirkwood College and in 2009 earned a bachelor’s degree of liberal study from the University of Iowa with emphasis on youth psychology and fiction writing. He worked at the Washington Community Y for 25 years, leaving with the title of senior program director. He moved to a Y in Waterloo for three years.

“I just want to make Washington a better place,” he said. “I hear people complain about things that are going on with city government. I’ve always thought anyone can complain, but it is the thinkers that come up with the solutions. I’m a fixer and a thinker.”

Stigers said, looking from the outside in, he believes there are some things that can be done differently. If elected, he plans to learn the job first, but feels some things in city government can be done more quickly than have been, citing a sidewalk in his ward that had been removed by the city in January and hasn’t been replaced yet.

Another issue Stigers commented on is that the council hasn’t always voted to use local workers for city projects. He cited the sale of the former library and the running of the recycling center.

“They are going out of the community to save a couple of hundred dollars when the job could have gone to someone in our community, who hires people within our community, so that money stays in our community,” he said. “When we hire someone from outside the community, that money is leaving the community.”

In the coming term, Stigers hopes to focus on the safety of children in the community. He cited an incident in Washington High School in which classes were canceled. He also said there has been a rash of dog attacks, which needs to be addressed.

Stigers said he was good friends with former council member Russ Zieglowsky.

He commented he hadn’t heard much from the Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) lately. He asked what jobs the group has brought into Washington. He said jobs need to be brought to Washington.

He said one of his benefits is the people in Washington know him and know what they will get. He promises to always be approachable. Stigers also identified as a problem that some people aren’t comfortable coming to a council meeting. He said once a month he can hold a meeting with constituents to learn about what concerns are in his ward.

 

 

He did say he hopes constituents instead of just complaining can also approach him with suggested solutions.

“I think I have a lot to offer and I want to offer it,” he said.

 

 

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