With early voting beginning April 22, here are the answers Shenandoah City Council candidates Ted Fletcher and Andrea Konzem provided during their April 18 open forum.

Q: How do you think the city’s remaining open space should be utilized, and how would it benefit the residents?

Konzem: I think a poll should be taken from the residents to see what they want. This is for the residents, and I think residents need to be made first. I feel residents are not being put first. … We need to see what their interests are.

Fletcher: Currently, there’s only a little bit of land left that Shenandoah owns. It comes back to benefiting the residents through green space development. We have a 5-acre parcel on the east side [of I-45] that will be developed into a retention pond with beautiful paths and parkways around it. We have a survey out … and we have been pulling information from residents on what they would prefer to have.

Q: What area of the city budget needs reducing?

Konzem: I feel we could do away with council pay and health care benefits. That’s close to $100,000 the taxpayers are paying, and I feel there is no other city around … that offers health care benefits. I feel it’s something we need to address that would reduce the budget quite a bit.

Fletcher: We’ve worked hard over the past several years to reduce the budget overall.
One of the areas we focused was general governing. … We eliminated car allowances, in addition to eliminating a lot of frivolous spending. I do believe people should be compensated for their contribution overall with City Council, although I have stood with Byron Bevers who took [council pay] under consideration.

Q: What specific changes do you feel need to be made to the Integrated Development Code?

Fletcher: Our IDC is in dire need of being rewritten. This is one of the problems we have within the city. … If you look from Wellman Road to the west side of the freeway, we have a lot of properties that become more and more dilapidated. If a property owner wants to make improvements … it doesn’t meet the zoning requirements of the IDC, which was written back in 2010. We need to bring our residents in that are next to or behind those properties for ideas.

Konzem: I do think the code needs to be brought current because we do have a lot of properties that are becoming dilapidated. It’s an eyesore for people that want to come to Shenandoah. We need to be able to maintain our property values. … I do feel it needs to be addressed.

The forum can be viewed in its entirety here.