Hutchinson election: a look at city council candidates

Hutchinson election: a look at city council candidates

By Aaron Strain / Web Master

Elections for city and school offices across the county are ongoing.

Advance in-person voting is taking place at the Reno County Courthouse Annex and will end at noon on Nov. 4. The general election will occur Nov. 5 at local polling locations. Information regarding where to vote and who is on your ballot can be found online at myvoteinfo.voteks.org.

Five council members govern Hutchinson. Four members are elected by district and serve four-year terms, and one at-large (city-wide) member serves a two-year term. Members select the mayor and vice mayor, set city policy, and hire a city manager, who carries out the policy and laws in the daily business of the city. 

A brief profile of all City Council candidates follows:

At-large

David Inskeep, 44

  • Incumbent Mayor, council member since 2015, and insurance agent
  • Grew up in Hutchinson and joined the Navy
  • A supporter of entrepreneurship and small businesses, keeping dollars local
  • The city is economically “well within means” to improve “antiquated” infrastructure, especially storm and wastewater systems.
  • While not a fan of mill increases, recently, one was needed to prevent workers from leaving the public sector and slowing city services as a result.
  • Supports rental licensing. 

Sara Bagwell, 33

  • Spent early 20’s living out of her car in California
  • Poverty gave her an understanding of people at all levels
  • Holds a master’s degree in Accounting from Emporia State University
  • Pushes for a business-friendly economy and “conservative values”.
  • Higher taxes drive up the cost of living, hurting the most vulnerable in the community.
  • The city should promote business and generate revenue through cutting taxes, reducing wasteful spending, and, therein, broadening the tax base.

Southeast District

Steve Dechant, 68

  • Incumbent council member since 2015 and local landlord
  • Retired after 33 years at Hutchinson Correctional Facility as a Deputy Warden
  • A working government needs to efficiently provide “infrastructure and safety, quality of life, housing, and business environment and jobs”
  • Houses are deteriorating at pace or quicker than improvement in some places. Brush Up Hutch, zero-interest improvement loans, and other programs have been positive for housing in the community, but more needs to be done.
  • Supports rental licensing.

Steven Garza, 61

  • Retired Hutchinson traffic signal technician
  • President of local Service Employees International Union
  • City codes are too restrictive.
  • Wants to “look into ways to retain good employees to ensure that our city is cared for”.
  • Disagrees with rental licensing, which requires landlords to obtain a license from the city per unit annually. Landlords who accept a voluntary inspection of a unit would be eligible for a reduction of the licensing fee the following year.

Northeast District

Jade Piros de Carvalho, 41

  • Incumbent council member since 2013
  • Yoga instructor and employee of Ideatek
  • Grew up disadvantaged in southern Hutchinson
  • Wants other citizens to have the same access to public services and community resources that made her successful.
  • City leaders are obligated “to protect… tenants especially in marginalized and low-resource parts of our town because a lot of them aren’t yet educated in how to advocate for themselves and are too scared to stand up for their own rights”.
  • Supports rental licensing.
  • The city needs more engagement and social media outreach with citizens.
  • Started county-wide drug task force to address drug addiction.

Lovella Kelley, 77

  • Former nurse and current local business owner
  • Co-founder of Ulster Project Hutchinson and member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society
  • Member of the City Public Art Committee who kickstarted the Sculpture Art Walk
  • Rental licensing is necessary for healthy and safe homes.
  • Supports the development of low-income housing and revitalizing disused houses.
  • The city should inform the community about service events.
  • “One person can make a difference, and; the way you do that is to get involved and become positive about your community… come out and participate”. 

Joshua Naiman, 38

  • Owner of 2nd Amendment Tactical in South Hutchinson
  • Property taxes are too high, and codes stifle local businesses and homeowners
  • Tax breaks for companies wanting to develop in Hutch are necessary to create well-paying jobs.
  • The city is losing sales tax dollars to residents buying fireworks in South Hutchinson every year and blow them off illegally in Hutchinson. Rules against fireworks in Hutch are therein unenforceable.
  • Does not support rental licensing.

Quotes are from candidate interviews with the Hutchinson News on the News’ YouTube channel. Further information on candidates can be found on their respective campaign pages and live-streamed forums on Facebook.

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