The village of New Richmond hosted a Meet the Candidates night Oct. 24 and six of the eight candidates for council were on hand to discuss the issues facing the village.
Candidates for council who were at the event included Mary Allen, Amanda Davidson, Heather Evans Richard Hilt, Charles Scott and Gary Skeene.
Ernest Smith and Noel Thacker did not attend the event. According to organizers, Smith was absent because of an illness, and they did not hear from Thacker.
Candidates had time to introduce themselves and answer questions during the event.
Former councilman Gary Skeene said he served on council for four years after he ran six years ago.
Skeene said he is concerned about the village with the closing of Beckjord Station looming nearer.
“I see the trouble New Richmond is headed for,” Skeene said. “I don’t have instant answers, but I hope I can work with people to find answers.”
Skeene said he is in favor of sewer expansion in the village as well as continuing to provide services for residents.
“I can sit down and plan and talk about ideas with anyone,” Skeene said.
Incumbent candidate Richard Hilt said he hopes to continue serving on council.
“I am running for re-election because I think we are at a critical time in history with Beckjord closing,” Hilt said. “It will have a substantial effect on funds.”
Hilt said he believes the village needs to focus on growing and rebuilding.
“I believe we need to expand the wastewater collection system,” Hilt said. “We need to work to increase revenue.”
Hilt said getting new customers and bringing more tax payers to the village will help increase revenue lost by Beckjord closing.
Incumbent candidate Amanda Davidson said she has lived in the village of New Richmond since she was in third grade and has been a home-owner in the village for five years.
“I wanted to know how local government worked,” Davidson said about deciding to get involved.
Davidson said she has been on council for one year, and would like to continue serving the village.
Davidson said she is aware the village is going to face a tough financial situation in the coming years.
She said keeping the village services, including the police department, operating in the village is important.
“I want to keep them here,” Davidson said. “The closer help is, the better in an emergency.”
Davidson said allowing the village to grow and working together to find solutions to dwindling finances is important.
“I am excited to work with council to come up with ideas,” Davidson said.
New candidate Mary Allen said she is running for council because she cares about the village.
“I live in the village and I really love this community,” Allen said. “I want to strengthen it and help it survive.”
Allen said she has served on the Financial Advisory Task Force that was created to help find solutions to the revenue that will be lost when Beckjord closes.
“Collaboration is important,” Allen said. “We have come up with a lot of ideas.”
Allen said village officials need to be aggressive about implementing ideas and solutions in the coming years.
Allen said that while she is opposed to raising taxes for residents, she also feels residents should be able to choose if they would like to pay more to avoid losing essential services.
“I believe in this community,” Allen said. “I will do what I can to make decisions to help us stay safe.”
New Richmond resident Charles Scott is also looking to do his part in the community.
“I am a member of the board of zoning appeals and the task force,” Scott said. “There is nothing out there more important than trying to save the village.”
Scott said he does not want to see the village police department or fire department lost because of finances.
“We have to change that,” Scott said.
Scott said if he is elected he would work to attract businesses and see if they can attract another power plant to the Beckjord station.
He said they could also come up with programs like “adopt a street light” to help pay for services in the village.
New Richmond resident Heather Evans is also running for council.
“I believe I am the future of the village,” Evans said.
Evans said she has a master’s degree in psychology and enjoys listening and thinking independently.
“I listen and come up with ways outside of the box to fix things,” Evans said.
She said there are several things that need to be fixed in the village.
“We have a drug epidemic here,” Evans said. “Things have to change.”
Evans said even though she can’t see much of the financial information, she knows the village is going to face challenges in the near future.
She said working together and coming up with ideas to solve these problems is key.
“Give me a chance and I will do what I can,” Evans said.