Monday, March 21, 2011
There are five Fulton City Council seats up for grabs on April 5, but only two of those positions are contested.
Incumbent Wayne Chailland is opposed by write-in candidate Michael Harrison in Ward 1, and Rick Shiverdecker and write-in Charles E. Williams Jr. will face off to take James McCall’s seat in Ward 4. The other three openings all feature incumbent candidates: Mary Rehklau for a one-year term in Ward 2, Lowe Cannell for a two-year term in Ward 2 and Richard Vaughn in Ward 3.
Chailland — who has not only his most-recent two-year term under his belt, but also a four-year stint on the council 10 years ago — said he decided to run for a second term because he loves the place he made his home in 1984.
“I love this city. I want to see it developed,” Chailland said, noting that is also why he got involved with the council in 1996 when Bob Fisher was still mayor. “We wanted to see the city grow, bring home all these young minds we have that leave Fulton because there’s nothing for them here. We helped build this community because we wanted more jobs and to see this community grow.”
More than a decade later, Chailland said those still are his main goals for the council. A military and business retiree, Chailland still works as a substitute teacher in the North Callaway and New Bloomfield school districts so he can “see the kids and watch them grow,” which he said only makes the lack of opportunity more frustrating.
“It’s amazing the intelligence we have slipping through our fingers because we don’t have anything to offer,” he said. “I’d like to see us bring in new jobs and industry — something technical. We need something in that mid-salary range so people want to start moving here and raising their families here.”
Chailland said he also would like to continue plans for improvements at the Elton Hensley Memorial Airport.
“That is a busy place up there, and people don’t even know it — you’ve got people that fly in from all over the country,” Chailland said.
As a council veteran who also has served on the city’s personnel and airport boards and the planning and zoning committee, he said his experience is what makes him a strong candidate.
“My dad was in politics ... so I was raised in and around politics and I think I have a good understanding of how it works,” Chailland said. “You want to try to make things better for the community, and I think if you look at my experience, you can see I’ve done that.”
Harrison said he wanted to run because he has an interest in local politics and to give a voice to his neighbors.
“I’ve kind of gotten the feeling from some neighbors and friends that the current councilmen — with the exception of Ward 4 — don’t get out to see people ... don’t listen to their constituents,” he said.
Some of the things Harrison said he would like to work in over the next two years are street improvements and draw in more businesses, although he noted the latter could be difficult given the current economy and the recently-passed indoor smoking ban — which he also said could have a negative impact on the city’s revenues.
“With the smoking ban, I have a feeling we’re going to see less revenue, less sales tax,” Harrison said. “I think we’re going to see a lot of businesses decline and businesses shut down over the next few years.”
A Fulton native, Harrison is the night manager of Moser Discount Foods in Fulton. He said he thinks he can bring the advantage of an open mind to the council.
“I would be willing to listen to the people I would represent, and will listen to everyone in my ward — not just a select few,” Harrison said. “If you want someone to listen to you and be approachable, I’ll listen to you and really will consider what you have to say.”
In Ward 4, Shiverdecker — who has run for the position before — said he wants to join the council because “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get in there and see what’s going on.
“I just think we need to do some things in the city,” Shiverdecker said.
One of those things, he said, is to consider the development of a recreational center or some other gathering space to hold activities for the city’s youth.
“I was a big pusher for the rec center a couple of years ago,” Shiverdecker said. “We need to figure out ways to open things up for our kids — we don’t have enough for the kids to do.
A member of the Fulton Parks and Recreation Board for the past six years, he said working on those projects also would be something he wants to focus on.
“My priority probably would go toward Tennyson Park or a rec center,” Shiverdecker said. “I’d also just like to see more businesses come into Fulton.”
The owner of the Sears store in Fulton Commons said he thinks his years of business experience and the people skills he has developed in operating a retail and repair store would help him be an asset to the council.
“I’ve lived in or around Fulton all of my life, and I like to listen to people,” Shiverdecker said. “I really would be a people’s constituent — somebody people can come to and tell me what they think needs to be done and see what I can do to help.”
Charles E. Williams Jr.
Williams is new to Fulton, having moved to the city more than a year ago to be with his fiancé, but he said he did not hesitate when some of his new neighbors encouraged him to run for office.
“I was home washing dishes and one of my fellow church men who is a former councilman conferenced with Steve Moore, and they thought I would be appropriate for the position, and I said yes,” Williams said. “I decided I wanted to serve because I like the town and I like the community, and I feel as if I can bring something to the table.”
A disabled Navy veteran who served for 20 years, Williams currently is working on finishing his bachelor’s degree in acquisitions and contract management with a minor in health care administration. He is a member of the VFW, the National Contract Management Association and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Williams said one of his primary interests as a councilman would be local youth.
“Not being from this community, I walk the town a lot, I do a lot of observing. I’ve noticed a lot of the youth look kind of bored,” he said. “Maybe as councilmen we can go to the schools and visit with them — especially the ones who are getting ready to graduate.
“If you can know what their mindsets are, we can know what to expect in the future, because they are our future.”
Having attended several meetings, Williams said it appears to him that the council has a good grasp of what’s going on in the community.
“I was impressed after attending a couple meetings and having attended others on the east coast,” the Baltimore native said, further noting, “I’d rather wait until I get (on the council) if elected and get my feet wet before I talk about the issues the city is dealing with.”
He did say he would like to see the community get more involved and interested in council meetings.
“To me, making decisions for the community without the community there to give input is like taking shots in the dark,” Williams said. “It’s about the community, not me. They need to come to meetings and express their views to help the council. We’re only as strong as our support in the community.”
That open-mindedness is one of the reasons he said he thinks he would be a good councilman.
“I think I’m a people person. I’m very receptive of others’ opinions — I’m a team player for sure,” Williams said. “I’m always out in the community, and that’s not going to change whether I’m elected or not.”
Now that Rehklau — who took over for former councilwoman Allison Gohring at the end of the summer — has some council experience under her belt, she said she decided to run for the remainder of Gohring’s term because she has grown to enjoy it.
“I really like it. I like being involved in making decisions for the city,” Rehklau said.
Her long list of goals for the remaining year of the term includes figuring out what to do with the Keen Water Tower, developing a long-term plan for the airport and addressing speed limits that she said “haven’t kept up with the growth of the city.”
Another goal for the retired Wal-Mart manager is to increase Fulton residents’ involvement with their government.
“I want more citizens coming to council meetings,” Rehklau said, noting she has tried inviting friends and neighbors to the twice-monthly council gatherings to increase attendance. “I want some input from our residents.”
She also echoed the desire to bring more businesses to Fulton and revitalize the downtown.
“If we don’t bring business in, we’re not getting taxes,” Rehklau said. “We need more retail downtown. We have the colleges here and we’re not tapping the young people like we should.”
She said she thinks she brings a different perspective to the council.
“I look at things differently, I question a lot, I don’t always go with the flow,” Rehklau said. “I think I bring fresh ideas and come from a different direction on things.”
Cannell said he also is looking forward to continuing with the council after getting his feet wet with his first term.
“I guess I (decided to run again) because I enjoy it,” Cannell said. “It’s a learning process and I think I’m getting better at it, and I’d like to continue.”
Like Rehklau, he said one of his main goals for his next term is to “see more involvement from our citizens.”
“It’s kind of disheartening there are no opponents in so many of these council races,” Cannell said. “It’s an important job and people need to pay attention to what’s going on.”
The Fulton native, who works at Fulton State Hospital and also owns Pro Heat and Air, said he also wants to continue some of the city’s current projects such as figuring out what to do with the Keen Water Tower and promoting the proposed Callaway II nuclear plant.
Cannell said his strong suit as a councilman is his approachability and willingness to listen to constituents’ questions and ideas.
“I’ve lived here my whole life and I know most of the people who work with the city,” he said. “I may not always have the right answers, but I can get someone who does.”
Vaughn, who took over for former councilperson Wayne Lowen in September, said he decided to get involved with city politics because “I’ve always been interested in local government.”
“I’ve really enjoyed being involved in our city business and helping make decisions,” Vaughn said.
He said his priorities for the next two years will include the sewer main project which gets started this spring and “the long-term lookout for Fulton. I want to try to make some decisions on where Fulton should go in the future.”
Vaughn said one of the biggest challenges facing the city is going to be balancing the budget.
“With the sales tax being a little shorter than normal and funding from the federal and state governments down, it’s going to be a challenge to see that employees can still get a little bit of a raise and continue providing all of our services.”
The retiree — who worked for 33 years for a plumbing contractor out of Columbia — said he appreciates the support citizens have given him over the past seven months, adding he is excited to continue his service to them.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges of trying to make our government work for the people in a way where everybody comes to agreement and making sure everyone is treated fairly,” Vaughn said.