Kent City Council candidates answer voters’ questions in weekend forum

Morgan Day

Four Kent City Council hopefuls and a Franklin Township trustee took advantage of a candidates forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kent, Saturday morning in the Kent Free Library.

League member Terrie Nielsen mediated the event and asked the candidates questions, which were written by those in attendance. Candidates had two minutes to respond.

First to speak was Ward 2 candidate Jack Amrhein, who is running against Ward 2 Councilwoman Carrie Gavriloff.

“I’ve always had a burning desire to run for City Council,” Amrhein said, adding that he couldn’t before because his wife was a city employee and he wanted to spend time with his children. “Now that my youngest son is graduating from high school, here I am.”

Both candidates shared what assets they can bring to City Council.

Gavriloff said her professionalism and problem-solving skills from being a nurse contribute to council, and her accessibility makes it so residents can approach her with their concerns.

Amrhein said his positive air and training in conflict management are attributes that will come in handy if elected.

The two also spoke about the condition of houses in the city.

“We’ve got to get the residents to take pride in their properties and hold their neighbors responsible for their own properties,” she said.

Amrhein leaned more toward abiding by current laws and standards.

“We need to enforce the code we have here in the city,” he said. ” … We have laws and those have to be followed.”

Next, Franklin Township Trustee Gary Falstad introduced himself, and instead of telling the event’s attendees about himself, Falstad spoke of the trustees’ accomplishments, including the establishment of the township’s Web site,

He also said the trustees are working to bring more businesses to the township and have been fairly successful so far.

Falstad’s opponent, Clarence Cobb, didn’t show for the forum.

Responses from Ward 1 candidates Garret Ferrara, currently Ward 1 councilman, and Lloyd Atkinson ended the event.

Atkinson, a lifelong resident of Kent, said his concerns are for the city’s streets and budget.

“The funds are available,” he said of the budget. “They just need to be spent in a proper method.”

Ferrara said the solution is not cutting resources and jobs, but increasing revenue. He said the city has “really trimmed all the fat we can” when cutting jobs from the fire and police departments.

“If we continue to cut jobs in those areas, the safety of citizens is at risk,” he said.

Both addressed the issue of downtown Kent and its need for businesses.

Atkinson said the biggest competition to downtown Kent is the university, and it will be a difficult task getting students to leave the comforts of campus.

Ferrara said the city should be proactive in seeking out prospective businesses, but first it needs to understand who its target market is — students.

Contact public affairs reporter Morgan Day at [email protected].