School board, city candidates respond to questionnaires

The Scranton Journal provided questionnaires to the city and school candidates where there are contests. Here are the responses received:

Greene County board of education

Name, age, address:
Steve Fisher, 63, 1462 X Avenue, Grand Junction
Randy Lebeck, 55, 1597 U Avenue, Grand Junction
John McConnell: No response received.

Current employment and past employment that may be relevant to serving to the school board:
Fisher: Farmer / taxpayer. Wife: teacher at Greene County High School. Served on numerous boards for 30+ years. I now have time to commit to board duties.
Lebeck: Western Iowa Transit Region XII COG. I was the custodian / maintenance at East Greene Schools. Have experience in management, farming, retail, etc.

Current involvement in the community:
Fisher: Abundant Life Ministries; president of Farmers Mutual Insurance Board: Okoboji Bible Conference; Farm Bureau; Pork Producers.
Lebecks Leader in “Club Rock”, children’s Wednesday Church at The Sanctuary; board member of Pleasant Hill Memorial Chapel.

Why are you running for school board?
Fisher: To continue striving for high quality, accountable education; to see that new school and related partnerships are done well.
Lebeck: I have a heart for children and I am a very fiscal conservative. I want what’s best for children, teachers and taxpayers and communication with the public needs improving.

If elected, what are your two or three top priorities for the Greene County Schools:
Fisher: To continue striving for high quality, accountable education; to see that new school and related partnerships are done well.
Lebeck: Making sure we are not wasting money; supporting the children and the teachers; communication.

What do you see as the challenges that the Greene County Schools are facing today?
Fisher: Declining enrollment; student achievement; student retention; fiscal responsibility; accountable leadership.
Lebeck: Dropping enrollment which will lead to less money.

What do you like most about living in the Greene County Community?
Fisher: Relationships, quality of life, not crowded.
Lebeck: I love small communities and the location and people can make this county thrive with a little hard work.

What would you tell someone who is considering a move to Greene County?
Fisher: Good people, many opportunities, quiet and safe.
Lebeck: It is a nice community with great potential.

Final comments:
Fisher: I appreciate everyone’s support and covet your comments and concerns. It’s your school!

Jefferson city council

Name, age, address:
Sean Sebourn, 34, 205 E Madison, Jefferson. My wife is Miranda (Muzney) Sebourn. We have two beautiful children, Roman who is 11 years old and in the 5th Grade at the Middle School, and Olivia who is 10 years old and in the 4th Grade at the Elementary School.
David Sloan, 59, 1229 Rush Ridge Road, Jefferson.
Matt Wetrich: No response received.

Current employment and past employment that may be relevant to serving as city council member?
Sebourn: My wife and I own our home-based business of 11 years, Sebourn Video Services. We’ve worked on many video projects for the community, documenting the growth and needs of Jefferson. When filming, I get to see what’s going on behind the scenes, which often times gets looked over by the general community. Seeing all aspects, having a creative mind and ambition to get the job done are just a few things I bring to the table on the city council.
Sloan: I have been employed at Jefferson Monument Works for the past 32 years. I have been a co-owner since 2000.

Current involvement in the community:
Sebourn: I am involved in many aspects of my church Abundant Life Ministries. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels and coach the rec center’s wrestling program for kids in grades K-5. I am also the co-chair of the Greene County GOP central committee. I have volunteered on the Bell Tower Festival committee as well as chaired the event which was a very successful year.
Sloan: I currently devote most of my nonworking hours to the city council.

Why are you running for Jefferson city council?
Sebourn: I have been interested in public service for a long time. With my business being steady and our kids a little older, I feel the timing is right for me to step into this role and represent the people. I want to grow the community for my children and all of our families. I shouldn’t expect somebody else to do the work if I’m not willing to do it myself.
Sloan: I have some projects I would like to see finished or advanced further than thy currently are: 1. A new animal shelter; 2. Continued advancement of housing in Jefferson.

If elected, what are your two or three top priorities for the city of Jefferson?

Sebourn: Accountability is important to me. I’ll bring that to the City within its leadership and financial choices. Making sure we are spending your tax dollars wisely as well as making sure the surrounding communities are contributing to shared services is a priority for me. I want to see true affordable housing developed in Jefferson. There needs to be housing for lower-income families, and $800/month for rent is out of the question.
Sloan: 1. A new animal Shelter; 2. More housing built, especially apartments; 3. Programs are starting soon to update infrastructure in Jefferson.

What do you see as the challenges that the city of Jefferson is facing today?
Sebourn: Taxes and costs of living is going up, causing homeowners and businesses to reconsider living in Jefferson. This month, all businesses in Greene County received a notice of a 19 percent tax increase. When this was brought to my attention, I didn’t think twice to help – even if it was out of the city’s hands. Too many projects are coming into town expecting the city to pay for their share of taxes, in return, the burden is passed onto you, the taxpayer. Sometimes it’s okay to say “No, not at this time”.
Sloan: Keeping our infrastructure current. This is a very expensive project. We have programs starting to fix some aging infrastructure, but this will take some time. I feel I can weigh all the information available and help come up with the best solution. There will be some tough decisions to be made.

What do you like most about living in Jefferson?
Sebourn: There are countless reasons why I love living in Jefferson. Just to name a few: Our children can play at the park and we have peace of mind that they’re going to be safe. Our police, fire and EMS servicemen and women truly care about us and our safety, they are true heroes. We have wonderful teachers in our schools who want the best for each child they come into contact with.
Sloan: I have lived here almost my entire life except for four years I spent in the US Navy. We have many amenities that larger towns have like a movie theater, eating establishments, a casino just to name a few. There’s just no place I’d rather be at this point in my life.

What would you tell someone who is considering a move to Jefferson?
Sebourn: Don’t think twice, it’s a choice you won’t regret! Jefferson is an amazing community of people who truly welcomes everyone. We have something for anyone to be involved in, from school activities, dramas and sports, to community events and volunteering. There’s many sources of entertainment and fun. Churches are plentiful in Jefferson – get plugged into one of them. Our small businesses are ran by those with generous hearts, we support each other in our successes. There’s a place for you in Jefferson!
Sloan: Jefferson is a progressive city with a lot of potential for growth. We have several businesses for employment and very good recreational opportunities. We also have excellent city departments that keep our city beautiful and safe.

Final comments:
Sebourn: When electing a city councilman, choose one who’ll listen and will seek you out to let your voice be heard. I will represent the people and not the inside crowd. I would appreciate your vote for city council on November 5.

Jefferson mayor

Name, age, address:
Craig Berry, 70. I live at 807 W. Washington, Jefferson. I’ve lived my entire life in Jefferson. I graduated from High School here, and went on to receive a BA from Central College in Pella. I came back to Jefferson to start a family because I love Jefferson and it’s people and wanted to raise my kids here.
Matt Gordon, 40, 504 W. Monroe, Jefferson. Wife: Meghan. Daughters: Rachel and Shawn. Sons: Liam and Kane.

Current employment and past employment that may be relevant to serving to as Jefferson mayor:
Berry: I retired from the IDOT after 38 years. I took an ‘early retirement’ so I could devote more time to the job of being mayor. I found out, when first elected, that to move Jefferson forward, one has to be available. I’ve felt that I’ve been part of the catalyst that has gotten Jefferson into the mode of being aggressively progressive.
Gordon: I am currently a mental health nurse at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll. I have been an executive director and a Director of Nursing of an assisted living community. I have been through a yearlong Leadership Academy through the Iowa Center for Assisted Living. These experiences have given me great insight into reading both verbal and nonverbal communication cues as well as being a problem solver.

Current involvement in the community:
Berry: Currently I am: mayor of Jefferson; vice-chairman of my church council, after being the chairman for the last five years; organizer of the Greene County mayor’s roundtable group; vice-chairman of the Bell Tower Foundation; non-voting member of Jefferson Matter/ Main Street; president and organizer of the Cyclists of Greene bike club. I teach bike safety classes to the pre-k at Greene County Elementary School and the ‘Kids Safety’ classes at the Rec Center; I am the coordinator for the Market to Market Relay race in Jefferson; and many other hats that the mayor has to wear.
Gordon: Currently I have been serving on the Jefferson city council. I have been a part of many of the exciting things going on in this community. I serve on the fire department, personnel, airport, Jefferson park and rec, and animal control committees. I am also involved in organizing and coaching the Rambler Wrestling Club. I am an active member of the First Assembly of God Church.

Why are you running for mayor?
Berry: I want to keep Jefferson a progressive community! My campaign slogan is “Let’s keep Jefferson moving Forward!!” With all that is happening here, and the successes that we’ve had, I think that we can maintain our pace through the relationships that I have built with local organization, county organizations, state organizations and federal organizations. In this day and age, a community has to have these relationship to improve the quality of life.
Gordon: I feel it is time for new leadership to step up. Our current mayor has been in service to Jefferson since 1986. It is easy to become complacent when you have been in public office that long, especially if everyone below you tends to agree with you. As mayor I can incorporate my leadership skills with open honest communication to improve the transparency, accountability, and follow through within the city government and with the citizens of Jefferson.

If elected, what are your two or three top priorities for the city of Jefferson?
Berry: The city has determined several priorities for the upcoming year. The number one is housing. I am very proud to say that we have 19 housing units that are under construction now, with another 25 units planned for the coming year with the transition of the present middle school to apartments. The second priority was obtaining grants. We have an excellent rapport with multiple funding sources such as Region 12 Council of Governments and Main Street of Iowa. The third priority is economic development. I am planning on changing that to community development to include a broader scope for Jefferson.
Gordon: Transparency, accountability and follow through will be three of my top priorities. The public needs to be well informed of the current topics and projects in the city. This will allow time for their voice to be heard by the mayor, city council members, and/or city administrator in private or at a meeting.

What do you see as the challenges that the city of Jefferson is facing today?
Berry: As with all communities, big and small, finding the monies to expand what we have is the problem. Jefferson has accomplished this through partnering with both governmental entities and private sources. A mayor can’t just want things done without first looking into ways to not effect a property owner’s taxes. I am proud that the city has dropped it’s levy rate every year for the past six years.
Gordon: Good paying jobs with benefits, housing, and updating infrastructure. More livable wage jobs are needed. We have a significant amount of people that drive out of Jefferson to earn their living. We need to continue to have jobs as a priority. Affordable housing is another challenge we are facing. We have made some recent progress but need to continue to think outside the box to improve the housing availability in Jefferson. We have infrastructure that is in need of major repairs. We need to develop and implement a plan to replace city streets and water/sewer mains.

What do you like most about living in Jefferson?
Berry: I am very passionate about the city and the citizens of Jefferson! We have had numerous successes in Jefferson since I have been Mayor. To maintain our forward progress, we have to be diligent in pursuing all venues that happen to show up.
Gordon: I love living in Jefferson! Jefferson still has a small town feeling and the people have great values. I love being able to catch a concert at  Wild Rose Casino. My kids can enjoy sports through Greene County Youth Athletic Association. Our family can utilize the Jefferson Rec Center for our health and exercise needs. For entertainment we have History Boy Theater and the Sierra Theater. A small town feeling, folks with great values, and big city entertainment is why I love Jefferson and choose to raise my family here.

What would you tell someone who is considering a move to Jefferson?
Berry: I would tell someone who is thinking about moving to Jefferson all the great things that we have going on here. People want experiences. With Jefferson having a great school system, awesome medical center, being named one of the safest cities in the US over the past few years, and all the opportunities that we have here, Jefferson has a lot going for it. Jefferson has been moving forward in both community development and civic pride.
Gordon: For anyone considering moving to Jefferson I would tell them, do it! They would be moving here at an exciting time. Jefferson has so much to offer everyone. Move here and get plugged in. We have so many social, civic, and community groups to be involved in.
Final comments:
Berry: As your mayor, I have been involved with the numerous gains that the city of Jefferson has gotten accomplished. I have created relationships with many entities, groups, and individuals to attain the progress we have here in Jefferson. I would appreciate your vote in the upcoming election to remain at the pace we are at.
Gordon: Please get out and vote. Moving Jefferson forward starts with voting for your elected city officials. Get involved and communicate often with your elected officials. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Jefferson!

Scranton city council

Name, age, address:
Ashley Squibb, 35, 1004 Grant Street, Scranton
Zach Sukovaty, 24, 1105 State Street, Scranton
Jeramie Phillips and Cassidy Wilson: no response received.

Current employment and past employment that may be relevant to serving as city council member:
Squibb: I am currently serving on the city council and have been for two years. I also have four kids that I home school. I previously worked as the director of the Scranton Library.
Sukovaty: I currently work at Pemble Digging and Drainage and before that, I worked for the city of Scranton.

Current involvement in the community:
Squibb: I have been a helper and coordinator for Scranton Kids Fishing Day for all 8 years. I am also a member of the Varceis Club. I also set up A.P.E. coming to Scranton and helping with low cost vaccinations and spay or neutering. I am currently on the city council for Scranton.
Sukovaty: Scranton volunteer fire department

Why are you running for city council?
Squibb: I think everyone should be interested and take an interest in what is going on in the city. There are a lot of things that get decided at the city council that I don’t think most people even realize. That is what first led me to apply to be on the city council. Wanting to learn everything that was going on in the city and what all needed to be done.
Sukovaty: I want to be more involved with the community I grew up in.

If elected, what are your two or three top priorities for the city of Scranton:
Squibb: Continuing the beautifying of the city by updating and maintaining our parks; Better communication with all organizations in Scranton and trying to maintain a level of transparency. There should never be a question that can’t be answered as to why the city is doing something.; A way to enforce the codes, laws, and ordinances. I don’t see a reason to pass ordinances and codes if no one is going to enforce them.
Sukovaty: I would like to improve streets and improve our drainage (sewer, storm).

What do you see as the challenges that the city of Scranton is facing today?

Squibb: Enforcement of laws, codes, or ordinances; People not wanting to take pride and volunteer in the town; Bringing new business and enhancing the quality of living.
Sukovaty: Support from the community.

What do you like most about living in Scranton?
Squibb: I love that my whole family lives here. I like that people like to help each other out. The organizations that we have in Scranton love to put their money back into community programs. I also love that this is a great place to raise a family. We have great parks, library, churches and Community Center.
Sukovaty: It is a small community and everyone knows everyone.

What would you tell someone who is considering a move to Scranton?
Squibb: This is a great town to raise a family! We have a lot of great opportunities to help out or just enjoy a lot of activities. I would recommend getting involved in a community group whether it be for the library, the community center, the city, or churches. You will learn a lot about what the community has to offer. And don’t be afraid to bring some new ideas to the table or ask questions.
Sukovaty: It is a small, quiet community and a friendly place to raise a family.

Final comments:
Squibb: I think the city needs more than “yes” people. People that will question why things are being done a certain way and suggest different ways that things can be done. Also people that are willing to help think of grants and improve the town. I would love to be able to serve the city on the council again!
Sukovaty: I want to work as a team on the council to better the community the best we can.

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