City administrator, fluoride and economic development: Mayoral candidates talk local issues

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — On Tuesday, two of the five candidates running for Sheridan mayor will advance from the primaries to the general election, and all five gathered Wednesday for a candidate forum at the Wesleyan Church in front of a packed audience. 

The candidates are Robert Webster, Alex Lee, Jacob Martin, Roger Miller and Karl Mattlage. Each was given two minutes for an introduction, and two more for closing.

"Let's face it — enough is enough," Robert Webster said, and added during his closing that what separates him from his opponents is that he has the resume to do both the city administrator and mayor job. "I will stand for our rights as citizens."

Alex Lee said that, in his time on the Sheridan City Council, the city has managed to accrue $3.5 million into savings.

"Here we are, watching the end of another boom and bust cycle," Lee said, adding that Sheridan is facing expanding needs and contracting revenue. But Sheridan has, he said, many things going for it, and he is the leader "who can harness these assets."

Jacob Martin said he has a passion for creating opportunities for the people of Sheridan, and as a millennial, has a vested interest in Sheridan's longterm future. He said he has goals that "empower all our residents."

"I'll be the mayor that listens ... asking, 'What can we do better?'" Martin said during his closing.

Roger Miller said that after growing up in Sheridan, and leaving to serve with the Denver Metro police department, he returned to raise his family here. He owned and operated the Fly Shop of the Bighorns for a decade, and said he has "seen how hard the economy" has hit Sheridan. Miller took a strong stance against the city administrator issue in his closing, and said that if elected, he would try to get the city council to bring the issue to the public for a vote, which he says could happen if it happens within the next 60 days.

Karl Mattlage said he is running for mayor because he loves the Sheridan community, and has the experience to lead and knows how to unify people and find solutions on controversial issues. The trick is for government to "get out of the way" and allow for "new, clean energy" business development in Sheridan.

All five were asked their position on five local issues, and responded as follows:

What is the single most important issue facing Sheridan?

Webster: Health, safety and security, including suicide prevention and veterans' services.

Lee: Saving and creating jobs.

Martin: Creating jobs, and the next generation prepare to take those jobs on.

Miller: Health and safety and job creation, and making jobs accessible to millennials.

Mattlage: Economic vitality and quality of life.

Do you support the hire of a City Administrator?

Webster: The problem is more with the ordinance than the position of a city administrator itself.

Lee: Supports the hire of a city administrator, which would allow the mayor to "be a better mayor."

Martin: Supports the hire of a city administrator, as it is an important role in city operations. 

Miller: Supports a strong mayor system, and "wants the people to vote" on the city administrator issue.

Mattlage: Initially, he did not, but this is an issue that is now "done and over with."

Do you support renewing the One Cent optional tax?

Webster: At the ballot box, yes, and as a mayor, yes.

Lee: Does support the Once Cent optional tax.

Martin: Yes, as the voters have supported it at the polls.

Miller: Voiced support for the One Cent optional tax.

Mattlage: Supports "what the people are in favor of."

Do you support water fluoridation?

Webster: Against water fluoridation, said the mayor "can turn off" water fluoridation in closing statements.

Lee: "I did vote for fluoridation" in his time as a city councilor.

Martin: Said he believes water fluoridation "violates personal rights."

Miller: Said he is not in favor of water fluoridation for many reasons, including the fact that adding it to the public supply takes away the people's choice to ingest it.

Mattlage: Does not like "the taste of the water" since fluoride has been added, but called the issue "water under the bridge" and said the city should move on to other issues.

Are we doing everything we can towards economic development in the community?

Webster: Said it is time the city writes a new economic development plan and re-establishes an organization to lead the plan: the city first, followed by a non-profit board, perhaps.

Lee: Said the mayor's job in the future should be to leverage relationships to foster even greater economic development within the Sheridan community.

Martin: Siad Sheridan would be a good place for a "huge data center," and that while he does support the coal and energy industries, the city can focus on other things.

Miller: Said Forward Sheridan, the DSA and the Chamber are all doing a great job, but even more could be done to push "tech-type jobs."

Mattlage: Said he does not want to see the city "throw up barriers" for good, clean businesses to come to the community.