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Riverfront and roads among top issues for Sterling mayoral candidates

Either the third time or the first time will be a charm for the candidates running for Sterling mayor. Skip Lee, who’s running for a fourth term, is being challenged by councilman Jim Wise and second-time mayoral candidate Marc Douglas Batley, both of whom are running for a first term as the city’s leader.

Charles L. “Skip” Lee

Experience: Lee is seeking his third consecutive term as mayor, having been elected to the position in 2011.

Before he was elected mayor, Lee served two terms as an alderman on the City Council. He also was on the Sterling Library Board for more than 20 years, many of them as president.

Main issues: I want to continue to bring people together to solve problems and keep Sterling moving forward. We have a fantastic retail organization downtown and we need to plan for a retail strategy to get the east end retail together to continue to prosper.

We have an issue with the amount of affordable housing. I want to see what we need, and the neighborhoods are not as cohesive as they need to be. Neighbors need neighbors and I want to bring people together.

Regarding the riverfront, we need to find out how to manage the development and maintenance of that. I can bring the stakeholders together because I know who they are.

With economic development, unemployment is at its lowest level in years. The future of Sterling is in the 50 to 100 person shops. We need to help the businesses here and attract others and train the available workforce so those jobs will come here.

Over the last 8 years, we’ve spent $2 million on infrastructure. The special options sales tax has been critical to that effort.

Jim Wise

Experience: Currently sits on the City Council as an alderman-at-large. He is seeking his first term as mayor.

Main issues: The biggest issues we face is the need to fix our roads, reduce taxes, clean up our riverfront and bring more jobs to the community.

Our roads are deteriorating faster than we can repair them. We need to improve our process of selection, increase funding for road repairs, and create a policy that will guide our efforts to improve roads and sidewalks. Additional funding for these repairs can be obtained by working to reduce costs for the county-wide 9-1-1 system and with the Local Options Sales Tax revenues that will become available soon.

As for reducing taxes, I believe residents should be taxed for only what is necessary to meet requirements and fund public services. I want to work with the council and staff to meet the needs of both our property owners and our pension funds. I will work with the council and staff to provide tax relief for property owners.

I want our riverfront to be a place to be entertained, enjoy nature and revisit the history of these properties. I want to work with the council, city staff and community partners to attract developers who will take on the responsibility and cost of redeveloping these properties. I do not support a roundabout at Wallace Street and Avenue B.

I will work with the council, city staff and others to remove the Lawrence Brothers site because it’s an eyesore, but would like to maintain the administration building for historic reasons and to redevelop it as office space and other uses.

We need more jobs for our community, which leads to economic development, more revenue and better quality of life. We need to retain and grow existing employers and attract new ones. In support of the effort to train skilled trades workers, I will work to bring more manufacturing to Sterling. Small manufacturers who move here and hire our educated and skilled labor force will fit well into our community.

Marc Douglas Batley

Experience: Never served in public office however he previously ran for mayor in 2011 against Lee.

Main issues: I think the main issues are fixing the streets, bringing jobs to Sterling, getting a handle on real estate taxes, and trying to find an alternative funding source. I would like to see the owners of the riverfront property be more responsible for the cleanup there. We need to find some funding for the Lawrence Brothers site and the EPA always is issuing new guidelines.

As for pensions, we need to find a balance between what we need to put in and what we are putting in. For economic development, I would ask for help from the vocational center and the high school to make a video presentation of Sterling and mail it out to every business.

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