Bub challenges Wellner in Medford mayor’s race
Alderman Mike Bub is challenging longtime incumbent mayor Mike Wellner for Medford mayoral race.
The candidates were invited to submit answers to questions. Their responses appear in alphabetical order.
Run down properties can negatively impact a community, particularly in commercial areas. How should the city address blighted or run down properties in commercial districts? For example the former Schmidt building on Main Street.
The run-down buildings in the downtown area is not only an issue due to buildings looking bad. Some buildings have become a safety issue. Finding a solution to the problem with downtown buildings is an area where the city council needs a plan on how to handle the problem going forward. Just waiting and hoping the concerns will solve themselves is no longer an answer. The property owners should be contacted to inform them of their responsibilities to follow the city ordinances. If the owners do not wish to take action the city needs to review their legal options. If that does not solve the problem the city should look for grants or other resources to try and rehabilitate some of the rundown buildings downtown. Helping to repair or remove some of the downtown buildings will not only eliminate the safety issues but may encourage potential investors to consider new opportunities into the downtown area. I’ve spoken with the State Department of Administration and they feel Medford may qualify to obtain some state funds to improve our aging downtown buildings.
How would you address citizen concerns about the growing role of city employees rather than elected officials in the development of city planning and policy making?
This is one of my main reasons I’m running for mayor. In the past six months I’ve heard a fellow council member question why we receive items on the agenda that need to be approved on short notice. Another council member ask me why are we even here? Are we just a rubber stamp? Currently the council has very little input and discussion into the city plans and projects. As council members we were elected to represent the citizens of Medford. It is the council’s duty to provide input and direction not just approve items brought to the Council. I would start with holding an annual planning session with the council to get their input to help the set direction for the city. I would have a budget meeting before the budget is created to gather input. Much like the school district has done with seeking citizen input into some of their project discussions. We should be more open about discussing the future vision for the city. That being said I do feel we have some excellent leadership at city hall. We need their input and direction. They understand the day-to-day challenges of running the city. I just feel the city would do a better job with more discussion and input from the council and the citizens of Medford.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the city in the next five years and how would you work to turn this challenge into an opportunity?
While the city of Medford has a number of challenges going forward I feel the city needs a change in leadership. I believe in term limits. The current mayor has been in office for 16 years. We need a fresh perspective to face the challenges ahead. A few years ago I suggested we form a pool committee to look at our aging pool. It took almost a year and half before a committee was created. The committee looked at other communities to see how they updated their pool. I believe the new pool has been a big improvement for the city. I have served in a variety of leadership roles in the past. I’ve served on the Medford School Board, currently on the Taylor County Board and the Medford City Council. I’m a member of the Medford Kiwanis Club and the Medford Knights of Columbus. I was a track coach for Medford High School for
for over 30 years. I help create and serve as President of Medford Area for Tomorrow Inc. (MATI) which is a nonprofit focused on improving the Medford community. While working for Tombstone Pizza, Kraft Pizza and then Nestle Pizza I was a successful Information Systems manager.
I believe I can be successful in bringing the same positive leadership I’ve shown in the community to the City of Medford as mayor. With the combination of new leadership, more council/ citizen input and a fresh way of looking at solving our problems, we can together turn the challenges of today into opportunities for tomorrow.
Compared to Taylor County, which has a powerful committee structure, the city of Medford works through the committee of the whole on most matters. What do you feel are the strengths (or weaknesses) of the current committee structure and would you support changing it?
In general I believe the committee of the Whole process works well for the city. With only eight city council members this process is a good way to keep all the council members informed about upcoming projects or policy changes. As a member of the county board I find their committee structure makes it very difficult for all the county board supervisors to stay informed of actions of other committees. The one change I would like to make is, the timing of when items are brought to the Council. Over the years the Council has had items on the agenda that we were seeing for the very first time and then are ask to approve the project or policy change at the same meeting. The new water tower project is the latest example. The 1st time the council was made aware of the project we were being ask to approve the project design and engineering contract. I feel the council should have more time to review upcoming projects and hear what the citizens of Medford think about the project.
How would you work to “make Medford fun again,” to encourage new community events and to address the process for requesting permits for firsttime event organizers?
Events, like Maple Fest, the auto show in the park, the Youth Archery Club, Rainbow Gymnastics and Huey’s Hideway are just few events and new organizations that have been supported by the City of Medford Hotel/Motel tax. This tax was developed to support local tourism and community development. A few years ago due to a change in the state law, cities were given the option to keep 30% of the tax. I opposed the city taking this money. Using the hotel/motel tax for nontourism projects is not why the city ordinance was created. The current mayor repeatedly supported taking 30% of the funds away from the Hotel/Motel commission. After three years of suggesting a change. I was able to convince the city council to change the budget to only take 15% of the funds in the 2020 budget. These funds are critical to attracting new events or providing startup funds to new organizations. We need more events in Medford to show off our wonderful city. The city should use the general tax fund to fix roads, city buildings etc. not the hotel/motel tax. The hotel/motel funds should continue to be used for its intended goal, to help bring new events to Medford and provide our community with more entertainment options.
What should be the city’s role in supporting economic growth in the community?”
I believe the city needs to be a key player in the economic growth of our community. While in the past the city has been a key player in bringing businesses to our city I feel we need to do more. One of my major concerns is workforce development. Will Medford have a large enough workforce to support the current businesses and possible new businesses in the next five, 10 or 15 years? Working to expand our available work force needs to starts now not when it becomes a crisis. Looking to improve affordable housing to help attract new workers to Medford is a crucial step to building our future work force. Much like when the city uses development agreements to provide incentives to attract new businesses. The city should look at offering development agreements with potential contractors to build affordable housing and rental properties in the city of Medford. Medford would benefit from the additional future tax revenue as well as increasing our future local work force.
The city needs to continue to explore and seek new businesses to expand in the city of Medford. Having the new Culvers and two new Kwik Trip stores coming to Medford is great news. We need to look for more possible retails stores to increase shopping options in the City of Medford.