The two residents in the April 7 race to become Delavan's new mayor bring varying experiences and community ties to the job.
Tommy Purcell has owned businesses in Delavan for most of his life. His opponent, Ryan Schroeder, has run for mayor before and has served multiple terms on the city council.
The Gazette asked the candidates these questions.
Q: What’s one area or situation in Delavan you would like to see improve?
Purcell: Getting stores that are empty opened and getting the community back together the way it used to be when everyone was together and doing things and helping out. I’d like to see the community be able to vote on things more and help each other. Small businesses that want to come in, I think we should make it a lot easier for them.
There’s not so much we can do on the education side of things because that’s mostly up to the state, but I think we should have more things with education, more meetings and be able to support schools and do more.
Schroeder: I think bringing more manufacturing jobs. That’s something I really want to focus on in our industrial park—not only filling up our current industrial park, but I think we’ve got room to grow still and could maybe look at expanding that in the future. We’ve got to get back to the family-sustaining jobs where people can get back to working one job as opposed to two or three to make ends meet.
Q: How would you help bring more residential growth to Delavan?
Purcell: I think what we need to do is we need to get more middle-class people living here, buying homes and building more subdivisions and putting homes up. I don’t remember the last time we had a new home built in this city. We need to do that. We need to get people more involved so that we can build subdivisions or put more homes up.
I’m a middle-class person. There’s so many middle-class people in this town, and I think we need more of those middle-class families that want to do things and build something here in the city. Our city needs to be a nice place to live and a fun place to live.
Schroeder: That’s what I think we need to be doing better in this community. … I think that’s where the mayor can really come in and do more of a hands-on job of saying, ‘This is our community, and this is why you should live here.'
I think it’s about going back to bringing in the manufacturing jobs and better-paying jobs. I think it opens up opportunities for people to say, 'OK, there's a job opportunity with a good wage in a nice community. Let’s build a house or buy a home that’s currently open.' … When there’s more people coming here and living here, I think there’s more opportunity.”
Q: What makes you the best candidate?
Purcell: I guess you’d have to put it down to Ryan has been an alderman for 20-something years and run for mayor three times and lost. Sometimes being a politician isn’t the way to go. Sometimes looking at a normal person that works seven days a week and has an education in business and wants to live in town, sometimes I think that might be the way to go.
I’m very outgoing. I listen. I’m very understanding, and I’m not quick to make a decision. I just think I have the time, and I think I also have the experience to do it.
Schroeder: I think hands down it’s the experience. I’ve got almost 20 years of council experience versus zero years of experience for my opponent.
I’ve always been accessible as an alderman. I’ve always thought it was so important to go out and meet the people—not wait for the people to come to me, but actually take myself to their doors the old-fashioned way. It takes a little more time and more effort, but I love that about being a representative is actually getting to someone’s door and saying, ‘Hey this is me, your representative. What’s important to you?’