YORK – Eight candidates seeking four seats on the York City Council and two seeking the position of Mayor of York were invited to take part in a public forum this week at the York High School Theater.
The event, sponsored and conducted by KOOL Radio and the York News-Times, included each candidate having the opportunity to introduce themselves, answer three randomly drawn questions (in randomly drawn order) and finish with one question posed to all of them.
The moderators of the event were Carrie Colburn from the York News-Times and Gene Curtis from KOOL Radio.
While the public could attend in person, they also were able to hear the forum live via the radio and watch/listen via Zoom. A full recording of the forum is available for further viewing online. That recording will be available this week at www.yorknewstimes.com.
Seeking the seat of York mayor are Barry Redfern and Ron Mogul.
Seeking the four seats on the York City Council are Matt Wagner, Jerry Wilkinson, Jerad Sorgenfrei, Karen Harris, Diane Wolfe, Clarence Hoffman, Steve Postier and Vicki Northrop.
All were in attendance, with the exception of Wagner who unfortunately was unable to attend due to illness. The York News-Times has reached out to Wagner with questions randomly drawn for him, which he will have the opportunity to answer as well, should he choose to do so.
Starting today and continuing into the week, the YNT will recap the forum responses from the candidates.
All the candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves, talk about who they are and why they are running.
Hoffman told the crowd, “For me, it’s a do-over. Where should I start? York’s had a tough year, I’m sure every other county has had the same thing. We got through it and Joe Frei helped a lot. We are sitting better than most. But we have a lot of people asking about the money we did get and they want to spend it right away. We’re not that good yet. We are lucky we got through the way we did because we didn’t have several big placed filled with someone to help us. What do I say?. God bless America and York, Nebraska.”
Wilkinson commented that, “Twenty-some years ago, when we were visiting York and thinking about moving, we saw the York sign that says, ‘Come Grow With Us,’ and that’s what we have done.” He also noted that in talking with others in the community about past problems involving the city’s finances, many others agreed with him that there were questions that needed to be answered. “They didn’t know who to ask or what they could do. I said I was going to file my candidacy and that’s why I’m doing this now, for those people and all the hard working taxpayers in this community. I am open minded and grounded and I look forward to learning as much as I can.”
“This is an important election and I appreciate people getting to know the candidates,” said Sorgenfrei. He spoke about his family and raising four children in the York community, wanting the best for York. “The question being asked of candidates is what do we believe? I believe in family values and in community, I believe the government, business and individuals and the community can work together to solve problems. I believe York will prosper in the future and we are set up to have a great community in the future, but we will have to work at it. And there are many challenges we will face. It’s important to ask the right questions when we have those challenges. I don’t have all the answers but I’m prepared to ask the important and difficult questions.”
Redfern noted that he has been serving as mayor for the last 1 ½ years, “and what a year and a half it’s been. With much of this year dealing with the pandemic, it’s been a very interesting time. I’ still very proud of the things we’ve got going and the things that are happening in York right now. I grew up in York and what happens in York really matters to me. I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to giving back to this community. What matters the most to me is that I come to the table with never having an axe to grind, I want to bring people together on a common ground, never look at one group more than another. I would like to stay involved in this process for another four years.”
Mogul said, “It’s been a pleasure serving as councilman for the past 16 years,” but he now feels he has more to give as being mayor. “We’ve done a lot of great things over the past 16 years, but I kind of feel like I’ve run into a wall. I don’t feel as a councilman I have as much to offer – but I think as a mayor I have a vision and a plan. I believe there are things we need to talk about and do as a community -- I want to get things done before the wheels come off the cart or someone comes in to complain. I think we need to talk to the people, listen, make a plan and then activate the plan. I believe I can work with anyone.” He talked about being trusted by his customers in his business, “and I hope I’ve earned that trust as councilman and hope I can continue on as mayor.”
Postier talked about growing up in York and coming back to York to work and raise a family. He also talked about his involvement in many organizations, groups, efforts and noted that he was a recipient of a leadership award presented by the York News-Times and the York County Development Corporation. “I am a big believer in York and helping to better people’s lives. I feel that serving on the council would be a way to give back.”
Harris talked about her living in York for the past 25 years, traveling to other places and always being excited to return to the place she calls home. “I filed to run because it is important to me and my husband that York continues to be a place we want to work, live and raise families. If you sign up for something, you need to follow through, go to meetings, listen to residents and work hard on things that need to be changed. I think everyone’s qualifications on this stage are pretty amazing. I’m a good listener and I am fair.”
Northrop reflected on growing up in York, being gone for a time for employment purposes and now returning back to live out semi-retirement. “I’ve watched my family always be involved in York and running for council seemed like the right thing to do. I’d like to see communication improve between the council, the administration and the department heads, so we can all work together and be on the same page. It would be beneficial to all of us.”
Wolfe said, “I served 12 years on the city council and I’m the one to file the recall petition. I stand behind that. We need to do our jobs whether it’s hard or easy. I want to do my job and hold my head up. I’m not an outspoken person but when something is wrong I will take a stand no matter what it costs.”
Editor’s note: For the next few days, more installments will be published, highlighting the candidates’ answers to a number of questions.
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