Forum shines light on Lind candidates
Transparency among topics during debate
Last updated 7/26/2023 at 5:01pm
LIND — While residents wound down after a sunny summer day, the race for town council position Nos. 4 and 5 began to wind up during a candidate forum July 17.
Modeator Robert Meader gave the candidates an array of questions to test where they stand on major issues, as well as how they handle the pressure of tense questioning.
Five Position No. 4 candidates attended – Christopher Olson, Jamie Schmunk, Heather Reed, Richard Baldwin and incumbent Myra Horton.
Richard Baldwin formally withdrew from the race due to personal issues.
Position No. 5 candidates in attendance included Jim Weidemann, P.J. Jacobsen, Briana Osborn, Denise Snead and incumbent Jim Dworshak.
About 18 residents, current Mayor Paula Bell and current council members Robert Dew and Laura Dew, turned out for the forum.
Meader gave each candidate 2 minutes to introduce themselves, then kept the atmosphere light by asking short questions about candidate’s personal lives.
As the forum continued, a theme among the candidates revealed itself through their answers.
Reading off a list of questions directly from residents, Meader began to dig into the issues of water conservation, town maintenance, town financial management, growth, safety and communication between the council, mayor and residents.
There was no time limit for some questions; however, candidates were encouraged to give either a “short or long answer.”
A question asked each candidate to lay out their priorities in the form of a project they could commit to delivering.
Dworshak spoke on creating more opportunities for children; Schmunk about having a resident police officer.
Osborn promised to promote the town and to bring in businesses,
Horton spoke of volunteering more time to those in need, while Jacobsen voiced strong focus on water issues.
Snead spoke about the delegation of certain authorities to committees, thereby clearing up Town Council members for bigger issues.
Olson also spoke about water, as well as infrastructural planning for growth.
Weidemann spoke about ideas to improve water utilities, and Reed focused on revitalizing the town as well as proper maintenance of the utilities.
One theme rising to the forefront was transparency and communication. Osborn stood up to speak about the issue, stating she strongly believed the council should have more forms of public communication, such as a social media channel to record meetings.
“I am not going to hide anything from you,” Osborn told residents, noting her disappointment that the current council and mayor do not fully support the idea.
Other challengers also voiced concerns over transparency, many offering to talk with residents one-on-on.
Incumbents Jim Dworshak and Myra Horton remained silent on the issue most of the meeting, until the end, when Dworshak mentioned he would support a social media channel.
Another tense question was on the current council’s support of Bell, who has come under fire for hiring a city employee with a criminal record, questionable water-utility practices and more.
Candidates Olson, and Weidemann said they do not support Bell.
As the forum closed, Schmunk addressed town communication failures,
“They (residents) deserve to know,” Schmunk said.