By JOSH VARDAMAN Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — This Tuesday, Ottumwans will go to the polls to vote for who will represent them as mayor for the next two years.
To help make that process a little easier for voters, The League of Women Voters held a public forum Tuesday night in Council Chambers of City Hall. Both candidates — current mayor Frank Flanders and challenger Tom Lazio — sat in front of a packed audience and answered questions asked by the citizens in attendance.
Both candidates started with an opening statement, which was held to two minutes. Lazio and Flanders each touched on what he can bring to the mayor’s office and why Ottumwa will strive with him at the helm.
“The spirit of cooperation and community Ottumwa has is very heartwarming,” Flanders said. “To be at the epicenter of that is thrilling. Exciting and wonderful things are happening now.”
“I have the time to give back to the city, and not just give back, but lead the city,” Lazio said. “We are a city of pride. We’ve lost that pride, and we need to rekindle that.”
The League started off the questioning portion of the forum after both men gave their opening statements. Their question was focused on three areas of the city government that need improvement and what both candidates will do to improve those areas. Flanders and Lazio both agreed that communication is one of their most important focuses.
From there the candidates answered questions that were written by audience members before the forum. Topics included who both candidates thought should take the credit for projects and grants, how both will work to improve Ottumwa’s streets at a faster pace and what ideas both men have about making Ottumwa a place to live and grow, among many others.
After the questioning, there was a closing statement by both candidates, in which Flanders and Lazio gave many thanks to The League and those watching. It was the last chance for both to make a case why he will be the right choice for mayor when Ottumwans go to the polls on Tuesday.
“We are moving in the right direction,” Flanders said. “We can’t afford to go back. We have to be a community where we all look out for each other.”
“I will be visible and report to the community on a regular basis,” Lazio said. “I would like to see more youth involvement … I’d like to do what we can to start more businesses.”