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Four candidates vie for council’s at-large seat

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 10:50 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 9:54 a.m. CDT

The Osceola Sentinel-Tribune sent out questionnaires to the four candidates for Osceola City Council’s open at-large seat.

The special election for the at-large seat is Tuesday, Aug. 5.

The four candidates are Douglas Gay, Brian McKnight, Dennis Page and Sarah Truitt.

These are the candidate responses in alphabetical order.

Douglas Gay

Tell me about yourself, your background.

In June of 2007, I made my departure from Florida to Iowa. In 2009, I met my future wife Chanell S. Hill, a Clarke Elementary sixth-grade teacher. On July 31, 2010, we married.

We now have two beautiful children. Our daughter Natalie is two and a-half years old and our son Aaron is seven and a-half months.

For the past two and a-half years, I have been a stay at home dad. Before that, the restaurant industry was my primary profession.

Conservative values are a major reflection of who I am. My family’s new church home is LifePoint Assembly of God. Until July 12 of this year, I was serving as a Royal Ranger Commander for Corydon Assembly of God for five years.

Our family has only lived here for a short time, however, this will be our hometown where our children will grow up.

Why are you running?

I am running for city council because I would like the people of Osceola to have confidence in their governing body. The community needs to see their voice being heard and listened to, as well.

For the past 14 years, I have seen an aggressively rapid transformation in our governing systems. Our legislature no longer acts on the people’s voice, but their own. Our judiciary (branch) makes determinations based on their political bias, not the law. And, our executive (branch) acts as a monarchy making executive actions bypassing Congress.

While I may feel like the majority of Americans are powerless to all of that, I know at the city level there is a difference that can be made. If elected, it will be my goal to make the community of Osceola’s voice be heard.

What are the major issues the city of Osceola is currently facing?

Some of the major issues currently in the city of Osceola are the reservoir project, the Kading development project and some of our city streets, which are in poor condition.

The reservoir project is a primary need because of the necessity of water supply and demand. However, I do not know if procuring the land by way of eminent domain was the right answer.

The Kading duplex project is an issue because, on one hand, it will facilitate the need for more housing, on the other, I am not convinced this is the answer.

The city streets are an issue because many of them have separations, gaps and big potholes. While I know the city has been working on this issue, I believe we can do better.

If elected, what would you hope to accomplish in the remainder of the at-large term?

I would like the issues currently at hand to come to completion during my term. It is also my goal to gain the trust and confidence of the citizens of Osceola by meeting their needs with these issues.

Also, I would like to continue speaking and listening to the people about future issues that may arise. After that, I would like to work with the presiding council to get things accomplished.

Brian McKnight

Tell me about yourself, your background.

I’ve been a resident of Clarke County since 1991 and later graduated from Clarke Community High School. My family has been part of this community for many years prior to that time.

I’m a family man with growing children currently in our schools.

I’ve served in the Marines for one tour.

I am your average, every day, working-class man.

Why are you running?

I’m running because there is a need to have our community and residents represented in order to find what’s in the best interest of Osceola.

What are the major issues the city of Osceola is currently facing?

One of the biggest issues is I don’t feel that our residents are informed enough about what is going on in our town.

We need to find a way to bring more jobs to our community, as well as meeting the growing demand for housing needs.

If elected, what would you hope to accomplish in the remainder of the at-large term?

As a council member, I would like to bring awareness to the community, as well as acting as a voice for the people.

Dennis Page

Tell me about yourself, your background.

I grew upon a farm six miles south of Osceola. I graduated from Clarke Community High School in 1964 and attended the University of Iowa from 1964-70.

My job took me to Illinois in 1971 and I returned to Osceola in 1991 to care for my mother and manage the Hardee’s that was opening.

I have either managed, supervised or owned businesses most of my working life.

Laurie Crawford and I married in 1996. I retired at the end of 2011, but that didn’t last long. I’ve been driving a trolley for Southern Iowa Trolley the last two and a-half years.

Why are you running?

I felt it was time to give back to the community that helped raise me. My background in management, accounting, insurance and labor relations should help with budgeting and keeping within those budgets.

We have a lot of fixed income individuals who live in Osceola, so we need to keep the cost of services and taxes down for them, as well as everyone else.

What are the major issues the city of Osceola is currently facing?

We (Osceola) need to increase our revenues, while at the same time, keeping our costs down. One way to do that is to increase our tax base with some new industries. We can’t do that with our present water situation.

While the city council doesn’t generally handle any business regarding the project, the mayor does sit on the reservoir commission. The city council needs to give him our input to try to help get a new water source.

The sewer system is another area the council is working on and will need ongoing attention in the coming years.

The landfill continues to be a drain of city funds, as are smaller, but important, entities, which the city supports.

The Village is losing some funding and will need help to find replacement money to service its debt.

The city’s facilities need upgrading, but the funds don’t appear to be available at this time.

There are still streets that need to be paved and some that are in need of major repairs. Sidewalks are in poor condition in a lot of areas of town, or don’t exist at all, forcing people to take to the streets to walk or push strollers.

If elected, what would you hope to accomplish in the remainder of the at-large term?

I would strive to bring more affordable housing to Osceola without giving away the farm, so to speak. Don’t provide too large of abatements because we still need to keep improving our tax base.

Things I would like to see completed, or at least moving in that direction are the train depot, sewer projects, a dependable water source, streets and sidewalks and the downtown rehabilitation.

The city council has done so many wonderful improvements over the last few decades. I would like to use my abilities to help continue with the growth and beautification of Osceola.

Sarah Truitt

Tell me about yourself, your background.

I grew up in Joplin, Mo., and met my husband in college in Kirksville, Mo. In 2005, we moved here and purchased the home where we still live on the east side of town. We have two daughters (ages 4 and 1) and I currently stay home with them. I plan to pursue my career in education once they are both in school.

Why are you running?

I’m running for city council because I believe that Osceola is at a critical turning point right now.

The community is growing and facing a lot of change. I previously served on the council here for almost three years and am familiar with the staff and the way our city functions.

It is critical for the city council to be comprised of members who represent the population equally, demographically speaking. As a young female, I am in tune with key issues facing our young families and children, who are the future of Osceola. In 30 years, we must still have citizens as vested in our community as our citizens are now.

What are the major issues the city of Osceola is currently facing?

Osceola is currently facing lots of important issues.

Our population is changing and we must work on integrating in order to move forward.

I hear lots of people complain about the appearance of our community. I agree that we need to do some work. We need a restored sense of pride about our property in general, I believe.

We have some of the best local businesses in southern Iowa, but we need to support them by spending our money locally.

As a young parent, I am aware of the needs that families have for recreation, fitness, and overall quality of life. This is another area on which we need to focus if we intend to attract people to our community.

We need good-paying jobs and moderately priced single-family homes. Last, but certainly not least, we need water. It is crucial for us to move forward with plans for a new reservoir to serve the city’s residents and businesses alike.

If elected, what would you hope to accomplish in the remainder of the at-large term?

One thing that I am especially passionate about is increasing the public’s participation in all of the local government’s activities.

Elected officials need direction from the people who live here and the businesses who provide for them.

I also hope to improve the overall morale of Osceola by helping businesses, organizations and individuals work together to accomplish great things.

As a single person, I can accomplish nothing. It is only with the help of our city staff, council members and constituents that I hope to contribute to positive change within our community.

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