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Election winners speak at forum

Posted: Monday, Apr 22nd, 2013

HURON — Newly elected leaders are pledging to provide new transparency in city government two days after their landslide victories for mayor and city commissioner.

Mayor-elect Paul Aylward and Commissioner-elect Gary Harrington, in an appearance at the Beadle County Democratic Forum, promised to treat all citizens with respect and to listen to their views on community improvement.

“We are encouraging citizens to begin their suggestions with, ‘I wish …’ Aylward said. “Some ideas can be easily implemented and others may be more difficult.

He said he will follow through on his campaign pledge to hold regular town hall meetings, and is encouraging people to attend.

Harrington said every Huron resident should be treated fairly and with respect.

“There has been too much secrecy in city government,” he said. “That will end.

“Paul and I have attended recent City Commission meetings when nobody (members of the current commission) would speak to us,” Harrington said.

Aylward said he and Harrington are “quick studies. We will gain the confidence of the other three commissioners,” he said. “We can and will work together.”

Newly elected Huron School Board member Garret Bischoff expressed satisfaction with passage of the $22 million bond issue to fund improvements to three elementary schools. But he also cautioned that major challenges still must be met.

“We have a tough job in front of us,” he said. “We are behind the eight ball. Because of the Legislature’s failure to fully fund education we are likely to face at least a $600,000 shortfall.

“Where can we cut?” he asked. “We will use some reserves and we can put more pressure on Pierre, but we are probably looking at another opt out.”

Bischoff said he is alarmed by the level of teacher turnover in the Huron School District. Last year, turnover was 17 percent, he said. It is expected to be at least 10 percent this year.

Open enrollment has resulted in 200 students per year leaving the district to attend school in surrounding small towns.

“We think the passage of the bond issue will address some of that, but why are they leaving?” he asked. “We are losing a big chunk of state funding.”

Huron KIDS First Committee member Chris Studer said group members “couldn’t have been more excited by the 71 percent vote in favor of the bond issue.”

“The school board will begin selling bonds as soon as possible and we should see construction begin this summer,” he said. “The focus will be on the lower grades (Buchanan and Madison) first with Washington coming last.”

Scheduled speaker Joy Smolnisky, state budget and policy director, was unable to attend the forum due to weather conditions.

Her presentation on Medicaid expansion will be rescheduled for a future program.

For the complete article see the 04-21-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-21-2013 paper.

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