Spring 2014 Election

One Evansville City Council seat contested

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Gina Duwe
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

EVANSVILLE—Keeping taxes down and attracting businesses are top issues for the two Evansville City Council candidates in the only contested city race.

Gene Lewis is challenging incumbent Jon Senn for the District 3 seat.

Senn said he wants to see more businesses locate in Evansville to help bring down tax rates. He said the council is a cohesive group that has good discussions and focuses on the entire city's population.

Lewis' grandfather was a council member when Lewis was a kid, and he said he just wants to help keep watch over the city.

“I think the city government, or any government, should be run kind of like your own household,” Lewis said.

The candidates answered the following questions:

Q: What should the city do to attract more businesses?

Lewis: The problem with Evansville, he said, is it has businesses, “but they're never open.” When he wants a coffee, he said, the coffee shop is never open.

The city needs to decide what kind of city it is, from the “tree city,” “bird city” and “soybean capital,” and pick one thing.

“Let's have a common goal,” he said. “We have to look at … how to bring people into that environment. It's a tough decision. I'd like to talk to others and get ideas on how should we focus.”

Senn: “We've made huge strides lately by hiring a community development director,” he said. “That was a huge step.”

Having that go-to person is important, and he would continue to support it, he said. The city also hired an intern, and he said he would like to see more interns used to help free up staff time “to take care of some of the bigger issues.”

“I just want to see that Evansville is open arms to new businesses and growing business in the community,” he said.

Q: Southern Wisconsin Agricultural Group is proposing a significant ag complex on Evansville's east side. Do you support the project, and how do you think the city should help in making it a reality?

Lewis: He grew up on a farm and thinks the proposal would have a good impact, bringing job opportunities and business growth.

He said he would support having the city help with infrastructure improvements, but the city would need a guarantee in writing that the development will happen.

“I don't want the city spending money on dreams and then having them pull out and go somewhere else,” he said.

Senn: He said it's a great idea with potential to attract tourism and business.

He said the private group needs to have funding and financing, and the city can assist if it fits within the budget.

“If there are things the city needs to invest in to make that happen—whether it's infrastructure, whatever the case may be—I have no problem with the city being involved in that,” he said. “I think it benefits the whole community.”

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