CEDAR FALLS — From form-based zoning to range initiatives to their very own administration kinds, the candidates vying for mayor and council introduced voters with quite a lot of decisions within the upcoming metropolis election.
However it was town’s public security officer mannequin that received essentially the most consideration at Thursday’s Candidate Debate.
The Cedar Falls mayoral debate proved essentially the most contentious of the night’s debate, held Thursday at Metropolis Corridor. It was the second such debate for these candidates.
Mayor Rob Inexperienced, looking for reelection to a second two-year time period, sparred at instances with at-large councilor Dave Sires and former councilor Tom Blanford.
Inexperienced famous their variations had been maybe most stark over the problem of town’s first-in-the-state mixed skilled police and hearth division.
“A sure proportion of Cedar Falls residents consider the PSO mannequin is completely wonderful as it’s,” with these individuals preferring Blanford’s stance, Inexperienced mentioned. “Others have legitimate considerations about the way it’s carried out; I am in that camp. Others wish to do away with PSOs completely; they’re with Mr. Sires.”
Sires requested why Inexperienced’s plan to reorganize the division, launched in July, wasn’t tried earlier. Inexperienced mentioned he did not have the assist from council and needed voters to weigh in on it.
Individuals are additionally studying…
Blanford contended the reorganization, together with reclassifying the general public security director’s place and implementing bodily health requirements, wasn’t needed.
“They’re completely certified and able to holding us protected,” Blanford mentioned.
Sires disagreed, saying town’s dearer hearth insurance coverage and neighborhood pushback confirmed the mannequin wasn’t acceptable.
“The mindset of a firefighter is totally different than a mindset of a police officer,” Sires mentioned. “These are two occupations that I would like them to be the perfect at.”
Candidates operating for Cedar Falls council additionally mentioned the PSO situation at size.
Kara Bigelow-Baker, one among three candidates operating for the Ward 3 seat, claimed the PSO mannequin was “not working nicely,” pointing to 2 current home fires within the metropolis, one among which led to the demise of a resident.
“In truth, the home hearth on First Road, they didn’t even discover the deceased till they had been making ready to go away,” Bigelow-Baker mentioned. “That isn’t how fires ought to be fought anyplace. That isn’t what we’re paying for as residents.”
Incumbent Daryl Kruse countered that the mannequin was “efficient” and “saved us over $600,000 in our funds over the earlier yr.”
Carole Yates, one other Ward 3 challenger, mentioned the perceived points had been maybe misconceptions.
“I feel individuals should be higher knowledgeable about how nicely it’s working,” Yates mentioned, although she mentioned she was open as to if PSOs wanted extra coaching.
Within the Ward 5 debate, incumbent Frank Darrah mentioned the PSO mannequin was “doing precisely what it is purported to do — holding town protected and saving some huge cash.” He contended it was these misconceptions that was inflicting a morale downside throughout the division.
“I am most involved about individuals really doing the work, they usually tune right into a council assembly or hear from neighbors about how unsafe they really feel,” Darrah mentioned. “It is the message being despatched that must be modified.”
However his challenger Dustin Ganfield pointed to “conflicting price analyses” on how a lot town was really saving on the mannequin, in addition to an influence outage in downtown Cedar Falls on Wednesday evening.
“Twenty minutes later and there was nonetheless nobody there controlling site visitors,” Ganfield mentioned. “That, to me, is a deficiency in our present mannequin, and it a minimum of wants an analysis to see if we’re heading in the right direction.”
Within the at-large debate, challenger T.J. Frein referred to as the PSO rollout “extraordinarily poor,” however stopped in need of saying he would vote to return to separate police and hearth classifications, saying he wasn’t desirous about “revenge politics.”
“I feel it is unlucky we put these hard-working individuals in a seemingly lose-lose scenario to get one thing achieved — to get rid of a hearth division union, if you’ll,” Frein mentioned.
Incumbent Kelly Dunn, elected in a particular election final yr, contended town saved cash and had “much less use of time beyond regulation,” and mentioned cross-trained personnel had been “absolutely educated like every other particular person that may function a firefighter.”
“Now we have separate police and hearth — that could be a widespread false impression in our metropolis, and it makes individuals really feel unsafe and it is merely not true,” Dunn mentioned.
Within the Ward 1 debate with himself, as opponent Derek Peisen was a no-show, Gil Schultz mentioned the “lack of transition” to the PSO mannequin bothered him initially, notably the lack of a number of skilled firefighters with years of expertise. However he mentioned, after speaking with PSOs, he thought they had been all “completely outfitted and completely educated” for the job.
“That scarred our neighborhood, and it is going to be a scar without end,” he mentioned. “That being mentioned, we’re six years down the highway. Now we have professionals in these positions they usually’re nicely educated.”
Gil Schultz announces CF council run, wants separate police/fire departments, ‘strong’ mayor/council
The talk was sponsored by Northern Iowa Scholar Authorities, Girls of Motion, Cedar Valley Activate and American Affiliation of College Girls.