Incumbent Randy Williams is being challenged by Janice Fowler, Sean Boyle and Palmer Davis in the Aug. 3 primary election
County city including the recent decision to dissolve its police department and contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for its law enforcement services. City officials have also faced declining revenues for a number of years, which creates challenges to continue to provide all services to residents of the area.
As a result of those challenges and others, a total of 13 candidates filed for the three positions on the La Center City Council in the Aug. 3 primary election. Clark County Today previously published stories on the races for position 1 and position 2.
In the race for position 3 on the council, incumbent Randy Williams is being challenged by Janice Fowler, Sean Boyle and Palmer Davis. Two of the three candidates will advance from the Aug. 3 primary election to the November general election. Davis did not participate in the recent candidate forum. Fowler attempted to but technical difficulties during the virtual format prevented her from participating. Bio information on all four the candidates is available in the Clark County Elections Department’s voters’ pamphlet.
The candidates participated in a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Clark County and televised by CVTV. Here is a report of the candidates’ positions shared at the July 16 forum. To view the complete forum, go to www.cvtv.org/.
What background skills and abilities would you bring to the position of City Council member?
Boyle: “I’m a 35 year old journeyman lineman. I’m married with two kids. And I plan to run my platform on a solution-based level where I’m going to focus on bringing together the entity that it takes to close the door on the challenges that La Center faces. In my professional career. I am faced every day with making critical decisions in a moment’s notice. And I know that’s not always the case with city government, but I believe that will be a benefit to the community.’’
Williams: “My family moved here in 2005 from Central California. I started on the Planning Commission in 2007. I left the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy on the City Council in 2010. I’ve been re-elected three times to this position and I shall stay in this position and continue the momentum I have. From an education perspective, I have an MBA with a focus in information technology, a Bachelors of Science degree in organizations. I worked 37 years in the healthcare environment for General Electric doing large capital projects in hospitals and clinics. I have twin boys who graduated from La Center High and a daughter that graduated from La Center High. The boys were honor students and my daughter was class president.’’
There was an assessment of policing March 2021. What did you learn from it? What do you agree or disagree with and why?
Williams: “What we learned is, it’s very expensive to have a police department. One of the questions asked is do they want to poll the citizens to see if we want a 24/7 police department? I said, I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t know of anybody who wouldn’t want a 24/7 police department. If we had a town of 10,000, we could afford the police department that everybody wants. Right now, we’re budget challenged. I am on the budget committee. I’ve been on it since its inception. And we will be looking at budgeting to keep as much police force as we can here. Currently, our chief that we have, Interim Chief (Bob) Richardson, is working with different ideas that we’ve given him, the council has given him, to see how we can get back to 24/7 policing. As it is right now, it’s not financially possible to start a whole new department to replenish the police force that we add.’’
Boyle: “My thoughts on this are that the La Center Police Department is obviously like a gold star. And I think that we need to do our best to pull our resources together to be able to keep them in our community. And if that takes searching out other sources of revenue, whether that’s grants or maybe some state funding of some sort, I think that’s something that’s important to me and the rest of our community. Nothing other than a high level of public service for safety, nothing other than that is acceptable. And I wouldn’t back down from that. And I think that going through the outsourcing may solve a budget problem, but I think we need to look in other directions.’’
Are La Center’s sources of income sufficient? If not, what other sources do you propose?
Boyle: “My answer to this question is that I think that we need to focus on maybe some public and private partnerships where we can build our economic development in the community. We have real estate at the I-5 junction that could be captivated, possibly, and if we brought the right infrastructure out there, I think it would give us a chance to bring businesses that would get the looks that they wouldn’t be looking for.’’
Williams: Are our sources of income sufficient? No. The city of La center was dealt a blow with the COVID closures. Our governor required that our cardrooms closed. So we lost a whole year of revenue basically from those cardrooms. Minit Management has laid out redevelopment of the Shell station area, which includes an approximate 100-room hotel, four-story building hotel, plus other businesses up there — fast food drive-thru and whatnot. As a councilman, I also helped push through years ago, a bed tax. People said, ‘well, we don’t have a hotel. We don’t need it.’ That will bring tourism money into La Center, event tax money has to go to tourism, which will help bring revenue into the town.’’
La Center has long prided itself as a small town. What is your image of this area for the near future?
Williams: “When we moved here in 2005, this was a perfect town for us, great schools. And my good vision for La Center is a high tech housing area with a college campus that will be going in at Exit 14. That’s going to bring more people to La Center. We do have housing going in. One of the things I want to see is more broadband data availability because I think that’s something that people are going to want to see. Redevelopment of the downtown area as an old town area is important. The Timmons Landing area will be redeveloped. There’s some basic planning going on with that. We’re fortunate we’ve retained a really good consultant, Jeff Swanson, who has a lot of contacts in the county, and in the state. He’s brought in great money so far, to help us with the redevelopment of our City Hall, redo the widening of Fourth Street, the engineering money for that, and money for the upgrade in our kitchen at our community center. So consultants are valuable if they help us.’’
Boyle: “I was raised in a very small community in rural South Dakota. And so small town pride is what I originate from, and I really can sympathize with our community and want to maintain that. And I think that with the values the people of La Center have that that’s something that is welcomed here. Whatever the growth brings, I think we’re forecasted out at 7,500 people in the next 30 years, I believe and we’re reaching 4,000 right now. Our small town picture won’t change a whole lot from that. I just think that we will be able to maintain that. And I think it’s important to the residents and important to me.’’
What will you do to support a vibrant economy in your area?
Boyle: “I’m for a vibrant economy in our area. We need to support the businesses that are already here and welcome the businesses that we hope to bring into our community by offering them all of our support. It’s not easy for somebody to take a leap of faith into uncharted territory, such as La Center, bringing whatever sort of business that may be, and I think we need to do our best as a community to help them and give them all the opportunity that they can to be successful.’’
Williams: “It’s important that we diversify. When I came to La Center and became part of the council, I noticed that we had no diversification on our income, bringing in small businesses, bringing in medium businesses, bringing in high tech businesses, businesses that pay more than minimum wage is what we really want to bring into this area. We do have a great, great community development consultant. And he is talking to these businesses within the council. We’ve already discussed making concessions for businesses. Do you need this? Do you need a connection fee? Do you need something moved on? The council that we have now is a great council, and it’s willing to do what it takes to bring these businesses in. Minit Management is going to be developing on their side. That’s the northside of La Center road. That will be starting soon.’’
Boyle: “The main thing that I want to get across is that I want to be here for the residents and citizens of La Center and be able to be a voice for them and someone that they can feel comfortable and open to talk to. I want to operate with an open door policy and really bring their concerns to the forefront, and try to find solutions that we can get for those concerns that they may have. I’m blue collar all the way and my work ethic will not waver,’’
Williams: “I want to continue on the council to help the town keep going in the direction we’re going. There’s been a lot of concern about the consultants. I’m a firm believer in the consultants. We don’t have to pay him benefits. We only pay him for the time they work. And we’re hiring the top notch consultants that are available. They’re doing an excellent job. Our Community Development consultant Jeff Swanson, has brought in over $2.5 million dollars in grant money in the last year. Our HR consultant, who is taking care of the issues with the Police Department, was on the Seattle PD as an HR person. So we have the best. Please, please keep the momentum going. Please have confidence in me and give me your vote in the upcoming primary.’’