The Ottumwa Courier

October 3, 2013

City Council candidates speak at public forum

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Ottumwans will flock to the polls on Tuesday for the primary of the Nov. 5 election to appoint three new members to the City Council.

There are seven candidates on the ballot: Keith Caviness, Matt Dalbey, David Gordy, Robert L. LaPoint, Bob Meyers, Skip Stevens and Belinda Smith-Cicarella.

To help with the decision-making process, The League of Women Voters held a public forum in Council Chambers of City Hall. Smith-Cicarella was the only candidate that was unable to attend, due to a death in the family.

The forum began with a two-minute opening statement by each candidate. The candidates gave background to who they are, and what makes them a good candidate.

Some spoke about their experience, and what the council needs to do to make sure our community stays on top of its game:

“It is a wonderful thing to bring experience back to the bench,” Caviness said.

“I have a lot of experience and knowledge to bring to the council,” Stevens said.

“We have to maintain our city services … especially if we want to grow as a community,” LaPoint said.Others talked about how they will be available to the community, and how communication and positivity will be the driving factor behind their time serving on the council:

“I would like to bring to the council a way of being available to the citizens,” Dalbey said. “It’s essential for change and moving forward.”

“As a city council member you have to listen to the public and have cross talk,” Gordy said.

“For Ottumwa to continue to grow we have to maintain a positive attitude,” Meyers said. “If we do that we will continue to be successful.”

After the opening statements, The League of Women Voters opened the floor to questions that were written in advance by members of the audience. The questions included how each candidate will work with other levels of the state and federal government; what are their long-term goals; how available they will be to discuss issues with citizens; and various other topics.

All six of the candidates shared the same message, that to be successful we have to promote positive economic growth and hold the councilmembers accountable for providing communication to the public in whatever way possible. Each candidate was given one minute to answer each question, though many found it difficult to get everything they wanted to stay shortened to a minute.

Each candidate gave a one-minute closing statement to conclude the evening, and all of them gave plenty of thanks to The League of Women Voters and the public for allowing them to speak on their behalf.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh