Q&A with City Council Candidates

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    Article from Kelsey Bergen

    In order to help the residents of Henderson decide who to vote for in the upcoming election, the Henderson Chamber facilitated a question and answer survey with city council candidates to inform and initiate discussion about the future of Henderson. All eight candidates were contacted to participate, but Stan Friesen and Larry Burton did not respond. Responses from the other six candidates are below. Voting for city council and other primaries will take place on Tuesday, May 15.

    What is the main objective you want to accomplish by running for City Council?

    Brian Hiebner: Maintain a clean community; help facilitate the development of vacant lots & removal of vacant houses to allow for construction.  Repair / replace sidewalks so people walk on them instead of the streets, continue with street replacement & street maintenance, identify problematic sewer lines and budget for replacement as to avoid backups & liability.

    David May: Serving on Henderson City Council gives me another opportunity to give back to the community. I live and work in the community and involved in lots of different aspects of the community and see things at different perspectives than others. I have experience with public service from previously serving on Hamilton County Agricultural Society. I am currently President and a Fire lieutenant on Henderson Fire and Rescue and completing class as an EMT. I have had training and experience in Parliamentary Procedure.

    Jason Lewis: I want to be open, listen, and work with the people of Henderson to responsibly manage the growth of the community.    

    Jeb Mierau: I am running for re-election because I feel that I bring a unique perspective to the Council, having been self-employed for many years and now managing the field operations of a large commercial building firm. It is my desire to make this town the best possible place for others like myself to raise families. First and foremost, I believe we need to continue to improve our streets and infrastructure. Secondly, I would like to work towards promotion of young families in the area. By adding restrooms at the parks, enhancing our ballfields, our parks, and our pool we can improve the quality of life for current residents and hopefully, attract young families to Henderson. This is a great city to raise a family in and we need to continue to promote that in any way.

    Matt Friesen: My main objective is to make sure the city of Henderson continues to provide and upgrade its infrastructure and provide governance to make it the best place to live, work and have a business.

    Twila Fuller:  I am running for Henderson City Council to make a difference. I am passionate about Henderson, and want to make an already caring, thriving community an even better one for you and the future of the children.

    What do you think are highlights of Henderson that should be promoted more?

    Brian Hiebner : Clean town, well-kept yards, great school system, quality healthcare, a friendly safe town, ethnic foods & traditions. Great place to raise a family & close to I-80.

    David May: Quality small town living is a great feature of Henderson. Everyone looking out for the best interests of each other.

    Jason Lewis: Henderson has a wonderful school, a great hospital, a fun golf course, well-maintained parks, and many fantastic businesses. Henderson should be promoted as a place to raise a family, especially with its sense of community.

    Jeb Mierau: I think our parks, pool, ballfields and recently completed Main St. are all highlights of Henderson and I believe that they set us apart from other cities our size. We also enjoy the benefits of having an excellent K-12 school, a hospital, and a thriving business district.

    Matt Friesen: I think the highlights of Henderson are what it offers to families young and old. We have beautiful parks downtown and by the city lake with a walking path for enjoying the outdoors along the way. Henderson has several ballfields and a recreation program for the community.  We have a fantastic swimming pool for all to enjoy.  We have the best internet service for a community our size along with a Hospital and School that are the pride of our community. We are close to the interstate and HI way 81 to connect to any location North, South, East or West. Henderson is a great place to live and work that is what I would promote.

    Twila Fuller:  There are many people in surrounding communities that are not aware of what Henderson has to offer. With experience in graphic design, I would like to help promote the numerous businesses, the Galaway Creek Golf Course, the German Smorgasbord, Community Days, and Mennonite Heritage Park by making a brochure for the Nebraska Tourism Office to distribute at rest areas, motels, etc. Events and businesses could also be promoted on social media.

    What would you like to see added to Henderson to make it a better place to live?

    Brian Hiebner : Gathering place to serve all ages like a community center, more daycare options.

    Jason Lewis: I would introduce a motion to allow city licensed, insured ATV, golf carts, etc., to be driven in town by licensed drivers. I think this goes with embracing Henderson as an agricultural community. I want to explore developing a community/senior center, possibly in conjunction with a golf course clubhouse.

    Jeb Mierau: In the future I would like to see more items that will draw young families to move here. Getting some momentum going for building a community center would be a very beneficial addition to the city. This could take many different forms, but I think it would open up the ability to have many events locally that are currently occurring out of town.  I also really like the idea of building a splash park for kids, and I think the downtown park would be a great place for it. This is something that would attract families from the area to the town and increase business growth in many ways.

    Matt Friesen:I think one addition to Henderson that would be beneficial to all is a community center.

    Twila Fuller:  I would like to encourage a Community survey to get the input of the Residents wants and needs for the Community. Some of my own ideas include a Community Garden, Festivals (possibly art), and more Social Activities.

    How do you feel about the cities current parks, playgrounds and outdoor amenities and what could be added or improved to create a better quality of life?

    Brian Hiebner : Henderson has good outdoor amenities now, pool, parks, golf course, tennis court, sand volleyball court, baseball fields. Don’t have any specific items right now to add.

    David May:  There is always a constant need for continued maintenance and upkeep that can be challenging to prioritize. The restrooms at the downtown park and at the ball field are in need of major update or replacement. I believe these are already on the city’s radar, I would like to assist with these projects moving forward.

    Jason Lewis: I want to explore constructing a paved walking/running path around the city.  I’d like to add restrooms closer to the ball fields.

    Jeb Mierau: I believe our parks are a definite strength in our community but there are a couple things that I would like to see added. Our restroom facilities in all three parks need to be addressed and we are currently looking into this. We recently added playground equipment to the Ballfield Park and that has already proven to be a nice addition. As I mentioned earlier, I would like to see a splash park in the Downtown Park to add an element to draw families to town and to better utilize that park. At the pool we are doing some much needed maintenance type projects but we are also adding the perimeter light poles that had been put off since the pool was originally built. Having recently resurfaced the tennis courts, added a basketball goal and now finishing the relocation of the sand volleyball court I think we are making some upgrades that will benefit the City.

    Matt Friesen: I feel we have excellent parks, playgrounds and outdoor amenities that can be enjoyed be all of Henderson residences. The only improvement would be to keep up the maintenance and appearance of these facilities.

    Twila Fuller:  I feel that exercise equipment added to one of the parks would be a great addition.

    How do you feel about the streets in Henderson? Which streets would you put on the 1 and 6 year plan?

    Brian Hiebner : Replacement needs to continue. 1-6 year: elm, 11th, south 15th, 10th

    David May: There are several blocks that need to be redone, I believe there is a schedule in place to get those taken care of. If elected to council I will review the schedule and help to adhere to it or adjust as needed.

    Jason Lewis: I do like how the city has been improving the streets as funds become available, but several streets are still in need of repair. I’d also like to ensure that the streets are being maintained as to maximize their life.

    Streets that should be on the 1-year plan:

    10th Oak to Maple

    11th Maple to Front

    Elm from 14th to 15th

    Streets that should be on the 5-year plan:

    11th Cedar to Birch

    12th Cedar to Birch

    Parts of East Liberty Drive

    Jeb Mierau: Previous Councils haven’t emphasized the city’s infrastructure as much as I think we should have.  We are starting to see the problems this has led to with many streets that currently need replaced along with a water/sewer system that is in need of some attention. The City Council has to continue to work to improve the quality of our streets. We have many streets that are in need of repair and replacement and this has to be a focus of the Council. Developing a comprehensive plan for this work is essential. As a Council we have been working to improve our streets while still being respectful of the taxpayers’ money. We have budgeted money for patching of some streets this summer along with the design work needed on the replacement of a street. The list below shows the streets that I believe are most in need of being replaced. Along with these there are a number of streets that need some patching done so that they can last until it is their turn to be replaced.

    11th St. from Front St. to Maple Street

    12th St. from Cedar St. to Front St.

    S. 15th St. from Birch St. to Ash St.

    Ash St. from S. Main St. to S. 15th St.

    10th St. from Maple St. to Oak St.

    Elm St. from 14th St. to 17th St.

    Matt Friesen: Some of the streets are in bad shape and need to be replaced. I would suggest putting Cedar and 10th street on the 1 and 6 year plan if they are not already on. The better question is what should be done to maintain and protect our streets from undo pressure form overweight vehicles parking and driving on our streets. Henderson has invested a large amount of money in our streets we need to make sure we take care of them with regular maintenance and oversight.

    Twila Fuller:  To be honest, I am not sure which streets are included in the 1 & 6 Year Street Plan but, Resident input is always important as well as the needs of the Community.

    What can the city do to further economic development for Henderson?

    Brian Hiebner : Expand chamber budget, develop a master plan for development, and work with York county economic development & visitor bureau.  Advertise Henderson via web site; strategic location, amenities, water, safety, available business locations.

    David May: Henderson Chamber does a good job in attempting to promote development and the council plays a supporting role to the chamber. This relationship needs to continue to flourish.

    Jason Lewis: I think Henderson needs to look to become a bedroom community to attract more people to move to the city. To achieve this the council needs to identify what other successful bedroom communities have to offer their residents and work to add those to the city.

    Jeb Mierau: The Henderson Chamber and the City Council have done a good job of trying to promote Henderson. With the possibility of adding a city mural that could be used in various ways to promote the town being discussed. We need to continue to search out creative ways to separate ourselves from other cities. Having replaced Main St. in 2016, with the addition of green space, lighting, stereo capabilities, and above all Handicap access to ALL businesses I think we have made a significant investment into the business district. I firmly believe our Main St. is right up there with any in the state and it needs to be promoted as such. One of the main ways the City Council can promote economic development is by addressing the lack of available housing. We can do this by taking the lessons we learned from the Providence Addition and using that successful experience to explore other options for it around town.

    Matt Friesen: I think the city should work with the Henderson Chamber to have a plan to promote economic development for business that would like to startup or relocate to Henderson. The City can look into tax incentives, reduced pricing on available City lots to promote economic development also.

    Twila Fuller:  York County Development Corporation, and Southeast Nebraska Development are valuable sources for the City of Henderson to promote economic development.

    What can the city do to support and grow the businesses already located in Henderson?

    Brian Hiebner : Make sure the city is in a supportive role for businesses and not burdening them with regulations. Help facilitate tax relief for expansion or too attract new business. Shop at home for goods and services when possible.

    David May: Henderson does a great job promoting downtown businesses, again this a cooperating effort with the Chamber. With the new main street, community days, rock the block, spirit of Christmas all being great opportunities for businesses.

    Jason Lewis: I think the Henderson Chamber of Commerce has done a very good job at working to promote economic development in Henderson, and I’d continue to support their efforts.

    Jeb Mierau: The City should continue to work with the Chamber, York County Development Corporation and other organizations to find new ways to promote the town. We need to be creative about ways to draw families to town. Working to promote the City along with trying to address the housing shortage we currently have, are the two best ways to support and grow the existing businesses.

    Matt Friesen: I think that the city should take a more active role in working with the Chamber businesses in what their needs are to promote growth.

    Twila Fuller:  The City can help promote and grow businesses by attracted more people to the community with events, festivals, etc.

    What are Henderson’s housing needs and how can the city help address them?

    Brian Hiebner: Affordable housing is needed, locating vacant lots & remove vacant dilapidated houses for housing construction with reasonable regulations. Possibly acquire property for more housing developments. Talking with many coworkers asking what would it take for you to locate into Henderson, over whelming answer: availability & affordable housing, daycare options?

    David May: There seems to be a pretty consistent turnover of houses for sale, they typically sell fairly quickly. Rental houses are a little more sparse as most are typically full. Henderson provides a great cost of living and a great place to live. New houses are being built fairly steady as well.

    Jason Lewis: Henderson’s housing market has been hot and selling prices have been going up, and the new subdivision in the northeast part of town has been filling in, indicating that another new development could be implemented. Henderson could use TIF financing to develop infrastructure, which could be used to attract new developers to Henderson. The city could also LB 840 to raise a half-cent sales tax for economic development.

    Jeb Mierau: The housing situation in Henderson is a struggle. A housing study recently showed that we need to be building 4 houses every year to keep up with growth. Having completed the Providence Addition project and having all but one lot being already sold, we are once again left with a shortage of available lots. Many of the lots available around town are too small for most house plans.  I think we should use the Providence Addition experience as an example and look for ways that we can replicate it around town. This would create buildable lots for new housing, which in turn would open up more existing housing to be placed onto the market.

    Matt Friesen: Henderson like other communities in Nebraska does face a housing shortage. Henderson has a housing development area that is being built out now and could use another area like it in the future. I think a city incentive program to develop building is important for the growth of Henderson.

    Twila Fuller:  Additional housing projects need to be pursued with the help of York County Development Corporation.

    Which organizations does the City of Henderson need to work closely with?

    Brian Hiebner : City needs to work with chamber, web page designer,York county economic development & tourism, possible city planner / consulting firm, other small municipalities our size to throw ideas around to find out what is attracting business & or residents into their town.

    David May: Henderson Chamber, Heartland Public School, Henderson Healthcare, Henderson Fire and Rescue along with the City of Henderson I believe all need to continue working together for the betterment of the community.
    Jason Lewis:
    The City Chamber, Heartland School Board, Mainstay Communications Board

    Henderson Heath Care Board of Directors, Galloway Creek Golf Course Board, York County Commissioners , and York County Sheriff Department.  The council should communicate with those above and work for mutual gains with these organizations and where available pursue grants and other funding opportunities. 

    Jeb Mierau: Henderson Chamber, York County Development Corporation, and the League of Municipalities are just a couple organizations that the City has to continue to have a close relationship with. It is with the help of these organizations that the City can continue to make progress.

    Matt Friesen: The city needs to work  with the Henderson Chamber and County wide with York County Development Cooperative (YCDC) also with Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) . Both of these help with Community issues like housing and employment.

    Twila Fuller:  York County Development Corporation and Southeast Nebraska Development are great organizations to work with.

    What do you want Henderson to look like in 10 years? How will it be different or the same?

    Brian Hiebner : The interstate exit cleaned up & made more attractive & inviting, have a gathering place for all ages, all vacant houses removed and developed, good streets & sidewalks, additional property for residential construction with fair regulations that are followed.  Change is inevitable so as we attract more residents to Henderson we need to understand not everyone operates in the same molded manner.  Supporting local businesses trying different avenues to survive is vital to the core needs of the residents as we are all mobile.

    David May: Henderson has a great tradition of being a good community to live in. I hope to help that continue and prosper.

    Jason Lewis: I’d like to see a community that has the same “feel” that it does now. A small town close-knit community that is clean and well maintained. I’d want Heartland Community Schools to be successful with plenty of students. I think Henderson grows in the next ten years adding more housing and residents. I think with proper leadership we can attract young families to move here. With a thriving community business can and will move in to meet demands.

    Jeb Mierau: In 10 years I would like to see our streets in better condition than they are in now.  This will take a great deal of planning and investment but it needs to happen. I would like the parks to have some of the improvements I previously mentioned. I believe this will help draw families to town and encourage our growth. What I hope stays the same is that the City continues to be a safe place to raise a family.

    Matt Friesen: I would like to see Henderson have the same or more businesses with adequate housing for a growing community. The difference of how it will look in 10 years is up to the residents of Henderson and how much involvement they put into the community whether it is the same or different.

    Twila Fuller:  I would like to see more housing opportunities and increasing businesses, which will promote a population growth for the future.

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