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Three vie for two positions on Torrington council

Three vie for two positions on Torrington council

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The City of Torrington has two open spots for city council positions that will be voted on in the primary election in August.

Councilman Bill Law has decided not to run and will finish his term the end of December. So, his position and that of former councilman Matt Mattis, who moved out of city limits is also open.

Torrington Mayor Randy Adams said since there needs to be a quorum for the council to vote, the person with the most votes in the primary will take the empty seat during meetings, until the official votes are tallied in the general election and the new councilmen will come on board Jan. 5, 2021.

Three Torrington residents have decided to step up to fill the seats. They are Eric Sharp, Rick Patterson and Dennis Kelly.

All three were given a questionnaire to answer questions about their hopes of becoming a Torrington councilman.

Rick Patterson

Richard Patterson

Richard Patterson

How long have you lived in Torrington and what do you do for a living?

I grew up in Torrington and last returned here in 2004. I retired as the president of EWC.

 Can you tell me why you are running for city council? And what do you think would put you over the other two running?

My background is in public administration and have long had an interest in the well being and operations of Torrington. I now have the time to devote to serving on the Council. Regarding the other candidates, we have different backgrounds and experiences. The voters will decide who is the best fit.

What do you think is the most important thing that Torrington needs right now, through a councilman’s view?

The current fiscal situation will require the most attention.

What do you think is your future view of being a councilman for Torrington what would you like to start and see grow in our county to enable Torrington to be a great place to raise kids and get them to stay here?

We have great schools, solid infrastructure, safe neighborhoods, and good health care, but lack sufficient employment opportunities.

What do you think is more important in our community, catering to the elderly that most of this community is, or making this a good place to raise kids and have jobs for their parents? What can we do to achieve this?

I have grandchildren and my Mother living here, so I see both perspectives. I think it is essential to maintain a balance so all groups can flourish. We have good resources, but they must be maintained. The most important need is stable employment opportunities. The city doesn’t create jobs, at least not directly, but should work with businesses, employers, and Goshen County Economic Development that do.

 Do you think there is a way to reduce spending in Torrington’s budget? Where do you think it can be reduced and why? What can you do to help reduce utilities for residents? Lots of them are on fixed budgets and they are spending a lot on their utility bills…Everything has gone up, what can you do to help lower costs?

Given the state’s current fiscal situation and outlook, reductions will almost certainly be required, at least in the short-term. Individual department heads are in the best position to identify inefficiencies and make reduction recommendations. Utility bills are determined by the cost of providing the service. Reductions are unlikely. It is important, however, to limit increases whenever possible.

If you have a problem come up that is not something you are aware of for the city, what would you do to make sure voices are heard and answered?

I am available for anyone to talk to about any issues concerning the city. I would either direct them to the appropriate person or department to deal with the issue or bring it to the council as a whole. I am a strong believer in using the organizational structure and following the chain of command. I also feel that it is essential to follow up with the person expressing the concern to insure resolution.

How do you feel about transparency for the city offices? Answering questions about certain spending practices, are you afraid to ask the tough questions?

With the exception of issues protected by law, such as executive sessions and personnel issues, it is imperative that the mayor and council be as open as possible with the citizens in matters regarding the operations of the City. This is especially important when it comes to spending practices. After all, it is the public’s money. You must spend money to operate the city but should never waste it.

 What is your educational background and if you were not raised here, where did you move from and when? And tell us about your family.

I am a graduate of EWC, Chadron State, and hold a PhD from UW. I was born in Wheatland and raised in Torrington. Prior to moving back to Torrington in 2004 we lived in Worland for ten years.

I am married and we have four adult children and 10 grandchildren. My wife, Candi, is a retired registered nurse. A large number of my extended family also lives in Torrington.

What will city residents notice differently about you if you are elected to the position on city council?

I am fully engaged in whatever task I take on. I will work for and with the city in an ethical, honest, and open manner. I listen and am open to new ideas. A - I don’t have any agenda.

Eric Sharp

How long have you lived in Torrington and what do you do for a living?

Three vie for two positions on Torrington council

Eric Sharp

I have lived in Torrington for 21 years. I am the Service Manager at Transwest Ford.

 Can you tell me why you are running for city council? And what do you think would put you over the other two running?

I’m running for city council because I care deeply about Torrington. I’m running because I am raising a family here and this is our home. I want this to continue to be my children’s home after they are done with school. I hate seeing all the talent that our community creates move away and benefit other communities. I am running because I want to see Torrington thrive, not just survive. To answer the second part of this question; I think Rick and Dennis are great men that want to see Torrington be successful just as much as I do. We all have different backgrounds and experiences that make us unique. I’ve been a department head for the city, I have experience with government budgets and seeking grant funding, but I also have experience within the private sector now that I know will be beneficial to the city.

What do you think is the most important thing that Torrington needs right now, through a councilman’s view?

The most important thing that Torrington needs right now is job growth. The loss of businesses that Torrington has been subjected to since my time here has been almost unbelievable. Agriculture has been our only staple but even that industry has been suffering. We need to balance supporting our current businesses while doing everything that we can to attract new ones. This means tax incentives, continued support of Goshen County Economic Development and active recruiting of diverse areas of industry.

What do you think is your future view of being a councilman for Torrington what would you like to start and see grow in our county to enable Torrington to be a great place to raise kids and get them to stay here?

I’ve already touched on this with my previous answers, but this question can be answered with one word: opportunities! Our children are not going to stay in Torrington if there are no opportunities for them. We have no job market here. Why would our children want to stay? What are they going to do for a career? But before they even reach career age, what do our children really have here? We have parks, an aging swimming pool and... It is the same complaint that has been made time and time again, what is there for the kids to do? As a council person I would seek out partnerships with our local nonprofits to seek to enhance our parks, start raising money for a new swimming pool, seek community advice on ideas that haven’t even been tried yet. Continuing down the same old path will just ensure that another generation of talented youth flees our community at the first opportunity.

What do you think is more important in our community, catering to the elderly that most of this community is, or making this a good place to raise kids and have jobs for their parents? What can we do to achieve this?

Caring for our elderly community and making Torrington a great place to raise a family are two sides of the same coin. Both are equally important. I am raising a family here but someday I hope to be a member of our elderly community. These two don’t have to be in opposition to one another. Caring for our elderly community can create jobs for our youth. We already have some amazing facilities for our elderly community, but those facilities are already at capacity and have a waiting list to get in. There also continues to be a need for something in between long-term care and being able to stay at home. I know there is currently a development being worked on (East D) but just as soon as the construction is completed, that facility will be at capacity and there surely will be a waiting list to get in. Caring for our elderly community members can be an industry unto itself but we need to expand our facilities. This can create jobs and ties into my previous answer about generating opportunities to raise funds for community projects that will benefit families.

Do you think there is a way to reduce spending in Torrington’s budget? Where do you think it can be reduced and why? What can you do to help reduce utilities for residents? Lots of them are on fixed budgets and they are spending a lot on their utility bills ... Everything has gone up, what can you do to help lower costs?

I know spending can be reduced. I was a department head and I had to make tough decisions to cut my budget every year. I also pay my utility bill and have watched it increase without seeing any expanded services. I know that the city was well behind in raising rates and that was a painful bandage that had to be ripped off. Now is the time to look deeply at each department’s budget and find the excess. The citizens of Torrington can only be burdened so much. Now is the time for the city to take an honest assessment of the total budget and make some difficult but necessary cuts.

If you have a problem come up that is not something you are aware of for the city, what would you do to make sure voices are heard and answered?

I had an open-door policy when I was the Chief of Police and will continue to have one if I’m fortunate enough to be elected to the council. I have found that the majority of problems boil down to a lack of communication or a lack of understanding. The citizens deserve to have their questions be answered by their elected officials, even if it’s an answer that they may not like.

How do you feel about transparency for the city offices? Answering questions about certain spending practices, are you afraid to ask the tough questions?

The city must be open and transparent to the citizens. Any and all spending should be open for discussion. I made a living in my previous career by asking tough questions and have no intentions of stopping now.

What is your educational background and if you were not raised here, where did you move from and when? And tell us about your family.

 I have been in Torrington since 1999. Before that I was raised in Alamosa, Colo. I was actually born in Scottsbluff and lived in Torrington until I was in second grade and I spent my summers in Torrington, so I’ve always been here. I have a bachelor’s degree and a postgraduate certificate in criminal justice administration. I am married with three children.

What will city residents notice differently about you if you are elected to the position on city council?

I hope the citizens notice a different energy on the council if I am elected. I want our city to be successful and to thrive. I want to balance caring for our elderly community while attracting new families and businesses. I have no desire to get elected and to just “go with the flow.” I want to do everything that I can to make us all proud to live here and for our children to have opportunities to stay here and thrive.

Dennis Kelly

Three vie for two positions on Torrington council

Dennis Kelly

How long have you lived in Torrington and what do you do for a living?

Moved to Torrington in 1976 to teach auto shop at THS. Owned and operated an auto repair shop from 1992 until retired in 2020.

 Can you tell me why you are running for city council? And what do you think would put you over the other two running?

After serving eight years on the city council I miss it. I lost my seat in 2018 when I ran for Mayor.

 What do you think is the most important thing that Torrington needs right now, through a councilman’s view?

 Economic development and infrastructure repairs.

What do you think is your future view of being a councilman for Torrington what would you like to start and see grow in our county to enable Torrington to be a great place to raise kids and get them to stay here?

Economic development and the creation of an indoor pool and rec center.

What do you think is more important in our community, catering to the elderly that most of this community is, or making this a good place to raise kids and have jobs for their parents? What can we do to achieve this?

Both are equally important in their own ways.

 Do you think there is a way to reduce spending in Torrington’s budget? Where do you think it can be reduced and why? What can you do to help reduce utilities for residents? Lots of them are on fixed budgets and they are spending a lot on their utility bills…Everything has gone up, what can you do to help lower costs?

Yes, the budget could be less if the city buys what’s needed and not what’s wanted policy was in place. One area I feel could be could be reduced is the Golf course budget. I do not believe that the city needs to spend 700k a year on golf course I think this amount should be capped at 450-500k per year.

 If you have a problem come up that is not something you are aware of for the city, what would you do to make sure voices are heard and answered?

There are always things that come up and there should be open communication between council members and city residents.

How do you feel about transparency for the city offices? Answering questions about certain spending practices, are you afraid to ask the tough questions?

Transparency is important for government to function. When I was on the council previously, I was not afraid to ask the tough questions.

 What is your educational background and if you were not raised here, where did you move from and when? And tell us about your family.

Moved to T-town in 1976 to teach auto shop. Raised five boys here all of which have left do to educational and military, job diversity.

What will city residents notice differently about you if you are elected to the position on city council?

If elected the only thing that will be different is since I am now retired, I will have more time to devote to the job of city councilman.

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