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PAVE forum: Candidates discuss their hopes for the future of Twin Lakes

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star

Last week PAVE (Pottawatomie Advocates for Voter Education) hosted a candidate forum for 10 hopefuls running for offices relating to the Shawnee City Commission.

Among several community-generated questions, residents wanted to know what stance the four mayoral and six ward candidates hold regarding Shawnee Twin Lakes.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the future development and commercial growth around Shawnee Twin Lakes?

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Mayoral candidate local business owner Dean Hudlow was not given an opportunity to answer this question.]

ANSWER by Mayoral candidate current Ward 1 City Commissioner Ed Bolt:

I think if we can do that, and do that properly, it might be a wonderful thing. It could be a good source of sales tax revenue. We would have to protect the water first. We've got to look at what the proposal is and see if it makes sense. I think there's all kinds of opportunities out there. It's a real gem that we have. There are so many things we probably could do, and it would bring people into our community.

ANSWER by Mayoral candidate downtown business owner Theresa Cody:

I think it's a possibility. I think we have to reach out to the citizens as something comes forward to see how it would affect them, and be mindful of our water source.

ANSWER by Mayoral candidate current Ward 3 City Commissioner Ron Gillham Sr.:

It certainly is an asset that we should look toward ways to use for the public. I would actually like to see some commercial development done — probably a marina, restaurants, all types of recreational activities, bike paths. There are all kinds of possibilities for young and old.

ANSWER by Ward 2 candidate GCTC instructor Elliot Shuler:

This would be something that I might have to abstain from, since I do live at the lake. I do think the lake is an absolute wonderful place for Shawnee. I see people come out there and kayak and fish. They enjoy recreation out there. I think it would be good if the city utilized it more, or funded it to attract more people out there. I'm all about quality-of-life, giving citizens opportunity. I would not be opposed to that, but I would not be allowed to vote on that.

ANSWER by Ward 2 candidate former legislator Bob Weaver:

I don't agree with that (Shuler's response). That's not an abstention purpose. We're part of the city, just like any other part of town. Commissioners vote every day for items that have to do with benefitting our town. I would never abstain on votes for Shawnee Lake. It is our asset; it's our water supply, it's very important. We've been neglected at Shawnee Lake for so, so long. We've had great meetings in our roads and the infrastructure at the lake, recreation opportunities for our citizens. Without a doubt, I would certainly support orderly growth and look for opportunities at our lake to enhance and improve conditions that are there as they exist.

ANSWER by Ward 3 candidate Incumbent James Harrod:

I've dealt with different aspects of the lake for 20 years, so, we've built restrooms, we've built buildings out there, replaced, them, repaired them when vandals have torn them up. We've done a little bit of everything. The problem is we don't have enough police to go around to put a full-time officer out there to supervise 24/7, If we spend a bunch of money out there and make it more friendly, we'll have to be closely supervised and restricted. You can't have freedom to come and go and do everything you want to do. Like, Wes Watkins we control the traffic and everything else, that's the only way you're going to be able to do that.

ANSWER by Ward 3 candidate Community Renewal's Travis Flood:

I believe that we have an amazing gift in that. Living in cities around the state, that's not something that some of these cities have. My family loves going out there to fish; my wife is part of the kayak club. I think if we were intentional about using that amazing resource that we've been blessed with, I think not only could we provide more things for our citizens to do, but we could draw outside individuals in there to enjoy that and spend tax dollars in our city. (Make it) not only be a great place for us, but a great place for surrounding areas.

ANSWER by Ward 4 candidate Incumbent Darren Rutherford:

I think it's one of our most underutilized assets the city of Shawnee has for development, for usage, for enjoyment. We need to take advantage of that, and in the process we need to make sure we protect our water. Protecting the water would be No. 1, development would be No. 2. I would absolutely be in favor of that.

ANSWER by Ward 4 candidate local business owner LaDonna Bryce:

I think we have an absolutely great asset there. It would draw in revenue from outside towns. I think it needs to be developed. Let's draw it — let's use it as a draw.

For more

Also watch for stories about questions and responses from county, state candidates in The Shawnee News-Star or online at news-star.com.