Three candidates are on the ballot for Ward 2 Shawnee city commissioner, and voters will choose among them in Tuesday’s election.


Three candidates are on the ballot for Ward 2 Shawnee city commissioner, and voters will choose among them in Tuesday’s election.
Candidates are Jerry Chastain, 65, Frank Sims, 50, and George Davis. Davis did not respond to the News-Star’s question-and-answer inquiry.
The News-Star asked each candidate the following questions:
Q: Why do you want to serve as commissioner for the city of Shawnee?
Chastain: During the past four years, I have seen a steady decline in the management and direction this city should be going. Our city manager was ineffective and the majority of the commission sat idly by and looked the other way until 30 days before the election to take action. We cannot afford to conduct business as usual. I can bring change to city hall.
Sims: Service. More than 100 years ago, my great-grandfather, William Frank Sims, served as police chief of Shawnee; my grandfather, a county commissioner; and my father, Sim K. Sims, served for more than 30 years on the Shawnee Urban Renewal Board. I believe it is my responsibility to serve the community. As a fourth-generation Shawnee resident, I would hope to follow their lead and invest my time helping grow our community.
Q: What are your plans for Shawnee during the next four years?
Chastain: We need to improve the quality of life for our residents, secure a good, safe water supply for our city, repair our infrastructure, increase our tax base with new businesses and work to keep the ones we have and get the projects started that have already been approved.
Sims: Parks: We need to improve facilities in all our city parks. Additionally, I will pick up the banner on the regional sports park — and work to deliver what was promised. Water (long-range plans): Ward 2 encompasses the Twin Lakes, which provides the bulk of our treated water, a recreational aspect as well as significant economic benefit to our community. We must stay on track with evaluating Sardis as an additional water source and pursuing other options as well. Water and sewer (short-range): With an estimated $40 million in infrastructure repair and replacement needed, I believe we must establish a priority list and immediately begin addressing the issue. Economic development: Shawnee is poised for quality growth. I will enthusiastically support SEDF, work to find additional funding sources and volunteer to work in any capacity to support their efforts. Street paving program: Ongoing maintenance is critical to extending the life of our streets. I will work to ensure all monies dedicated to city streets will be spent on our streets.
Q: If elected, what are some changes or improvements you have in store for the community and/or at Shawnee City Hall? Are those changes immediate or long-term?
Chastain: When the new commission is seated, our first duty is to hire a top-notch, experienced city manager. The commission must address our problems with trash collection. We need to take a hard look at our codes, and why they are so unfriendly to business, especially small business. These should be immediate concerns. Long-term projects will be water, transmission lines, treatment facility and sewage. If we are going to have sidewalks, then we need to get started with a plan for connecting sidewalks.
Sims: We’ve all heard we need a “change in direction” — I believe, first and foremost, we need to be “heading in the same direction.” We can dwell on the past — or we can look to the future. We need to immediately mend the fences and begin working collectively in a positive direction. I will spend my energy taking our community into the future.
Q: What are some of the challenges you see in serving as commissioner and how do you plan to overcome those challenges?
Chastain: I realize I cannot please everyone, and I will from time to time make some people unhappy. The challenges will be to do what is best for the majority of our residents, including watching tax dollars and making sure we get our full measure. I will listen and talk to the people. I work for the residents.
Sims: We sometimes forget during election time that serving on the city commission is a volunteer position. We must look beyond campaign rhetoric, consider the issues and make the right choice for our community’s future. We, the residents of Shawnee, elected Chuck Mills as our mayor. He has been used as a whipping post during this election. Under his leadership, we accomplished a long list of achievements, including: more than $200 million in economic growth; an increase of more than 25 percent in sales tax revenues; more than $25 million spent on streets, roads and highways; and resolution of an 18-year dispute with Tecumseh over the water contract. These are significant accomplishments. I hope I can maintain that type of commitment and success for our community. I am proud to be his friend. I believe communication is the key to resolving many of the challenges that face our community. We may not necessarily agree on all issues, but you will know why I cast my vote. I hope once that vote is cast, we can move on to the next issue and continue to grow into the future. We must stop tearing others down and begin building our success.
Q: How do you intend to be more effective as commissioner of Shawnee than your opponents?
Chastain: I will have a common-sense approach to the city’s business. Just because some other city is doing this and that doesn’t mean we have to do the same. The secret is to listen to the people and be guided by the residents’ concerns.
Sims: I intend to listen to the concerns of the Shawnee residents and balance that with the facts, the financial ability and the priorities established by the full commission. I pledge to share information with the public so the community will have an understanding of how and why certain decisions are made. I want residents to know that they are being heard, that their thoughts and concerns do matter.
Q: Closing remarks?
Chastain: I will be your voice at city hall. We have to change the overall attitude and set the city in a new, positive direction. This city cannot afford another four years of indecision or turning a deaf ear to its residents. For a change I need your vote. I cannot do it alone; I need your help.
Sims: My opponent has said he will “complain long and hard” (Shawnee News-Star, July 4, 2008). I will roll up my sleeves and get to work finding solutions to a complex list of issues and concerns facing our community.