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Local Election

Kirkland village president candidates share goals

KIRKLAND – Residents will elect a new village president in April with longtime leader Les Bellah about to step down.
There are three candidates to succeed Bellah: Ryan Block, Harry Newberry and Wanda McMurray.
Two of them, Block and Newberry, were among the candidates attending Kirkland’s Meet the Candidates night earlier this week. The event, hosted by the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, was meant to introduce the candidates for village president, village trustee, highway commissioner, the school board and the library board.
Communication was a main topic of discussion at the forum at the Hiawatha High School Gym, 410 S. First St., Kirkland.
Topics covered at the event included the village budget, communication between the village officers and the community, and economic and residential growth. Each candidate was given five minutes to discuss their views, and residents were given the opportunity to meet and question the candidates afterward.
Block listed many of his ideas for the future of Kirkland in his speech, including creating a plan for taxes to be spent efficiently to help create economic growth, and creating a village government with financial openness.
“The biggest thing we lack is openness,” Block said. “We need to get that back.”
Block said another of the main issues he would like to address if elected village president was growth of the community.
“With local government there’s also growth opportunity,” Block said. “But it has to be done responsibly.”
Newberry said he planned to increase the emphasis on seeking grants for needed projects in the village and bringing more businesses into the village if elected village president.
Residents showed up to hear what the candidates planned to do with their position if elected.
“Tonight, I wanted to hear their views,” said Helen Davis, 74, of Kirkland, “... and what they really wanted to accomplish.”
In addition to Block and Newberry, village trustee candidates Sarah Ziegler, Ronald Lieving, Colleen Ford, Sally Jones and Steven DeVlieger participated in the forum.
Some residents used the event as an opportunity to learn more about local government and the effect the candidates have on changing many things within the area.
“I’ve seen more people coming out [to this year’s event],” said Natasha Nellans, 23, of Kirkland. “It really opens your eyes to how they [candidates] can help the community.”
Other residents hope that whoever is elected will make good on their promises and create more responsible economic growth within the village.
“The bottom line is that they need to look at how they can change,” said Mark Roberts, 57, of Kirkland. “It’s time for a change.”

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