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Aylward, Harrington speak at county Democratic Forum

Posted: Saturday, Mar 23rd, 2013

Paul Aylward, right, and Gary Harrington spoke at Thursday’s Beadle County Democratic Forum. Aylward is running for mayor, and Harrington is running for City Commission. AP PHOTO

HURON — As mayor, Paul Aylward would focus on attracting good-paying jobs, fixing streets and revitalizing the downtown.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in our community,” the retired executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 59 said at Thursday’s Beadle County Democratic Forum.

In his 27 years in the union job, he honed his skills at negotiation and compromise, and he said he would bring those to the table as mayor.

“I have seen what works in cities and what doesn’t work,” Aylward said.

Also citing his job skills is Gary Harrington, who retires this fall after 39 years with the state Department of Social Services. For the last 11 years, he has been the supervisor of the child support unit for a 15-county area.

“I know how to compromise, I know how to negotiate,” he said.

As he learns the job of city commissioner, Harrington said he will ask a lot of “why” questions.

Aylward said he’d like to see the city divided up into caring neighborhoods where residents look out for each other, not just in terms of criminal activity but when someone is hurt and needs help maintaining their property in terms of removing and raking leaves.

“We need neighbors to step up and to help,” he said, “so that our community looks good.”

It’s alarming when the recently released housing assessment study unveiled that 120 houses in Huron are beyond repair. That gives a wrong impression when prospective employers see those structures as well as broken windows and boarded up storefronts in the downtown, he said.

“It doesn’t bode very well for our town,” Aylward said. “People think of it as a dying town rather than a wonderful community, which it really is,” Aylward said.

Huron needs to attract jobs that pay in the $15 to $20 an hour range. Too many families are struggling to get by on household incomes of $8 to $10 an hour, he said.

“With that (higher-paying jobs) we’ll have better homes, we’ll have more retail, we’ll have those types of things that will draw more people into our town,” Aylward said.

He also finds it unacceptable that 76 percent of Beadle County families with children under age six have both parents working, and that 60 percent of all the kids in the Huron School District are eligible for reduced or free lunches.

The Backpack program sends 400 backpacks home each weekend so that kids have enough to eat until they return to school.

“Those are the things we need to improve on,” he said.

Aylward thinks Huron has a real opportunity with its partnership with South Dakota State University architecture students to find ways to revitalize the downtown.

As a deputy commissioner for the South Dakota State Softball Association, Harrington has been in charge of setting up tournaments around the state. Seventeen of them have come to Huron and that has been a great way to promote the community, he said.

Harrington said he believes in finding common sense solutions. He learned from his parents that people should treat others the way they want to be treated.

For the complete article see the 03-22-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-22-2013 paper.

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