Spa City candidates wrangle in lively forum

— Johnson said highlights of his accomplishments in office include completion of the city’s Recreation Center, consolidating healthcare to save “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” VLT restoration, putting a comprehensive Capital Program in place and improving efficiencies within each department at City Hall.

“I have a proven track record,” said Johnson.

Chris Mathiesen (D), vying for the commissioner of public safety seat, said in his opening statement that he wants to “work together for a safe and vibrant city” and would accomplish that by keeping communication lines open and cooperating with all city departments.

Incumbent Commissioner of Public Safety Richard Wirth (R,C) said he’s strived to bring “common sense solutions” to the department during his first year in office.

“It’s been a priority that we spend taxpayer money carefully and find new revenue sources to reduce the tax burden,” said Wirth, who said he’s worked to “significantly” reduce overtime within the department. “Police officers and firefighters deserve to be compensated for the tremendous work they do but extreme examples of overtime spending were unacceptable and needed to be changed.”

Michele Madigan (D) is running for commissioner of finance and cited “accurate and reliable” budgetary practice as a cornerstone of her campaign.

“I’m a fiscal officer who understands revenues and expenditures and can use them to produce reliable projects in the near future,” said Madigan. “I understand the impact of the city’s financial actions and without this the city faces a great deal of risk; not only risk of running out of money but risk of serious reduction of essential services, needless increase in property taxes.”

Commissioner of Finance Ken Ivins (R,C,I) said he’s proud of the city’s fiscal state and what he’s been able to improve in a budgetary sense since taking office three years ago.

“Despite soaring healthcare and retirement costs I found ways to cut spending and still provide essential services together with my fellow council members,” said Ivins. “We have built up our rainy day fund, created long-term tax stabilization fund to make budgeting more predictable and protect against changes outside of the City Council’s control.”

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