Public forum brings out issues and candidates in Ottumwa

The League of Women Voters held a forum Thursday evening in Ottumwa concerning the upcoming general election.

The Ottumwa City Council Chambers was packed with citizens wanting to hear what the candidates running for local and state office had to say about many of the issues facing both Ottumwa and Wapello County.

For Ottumwa and Wapello County, getting the Local Option Sales Tax approved on the November ballot is instrumental.

The City of Ottumwa needs the measure passed once again in order to pay for street and sewer repairs, as well as giving residents property tax relief.

For Mayor Shirley Stacey of Eldon, approving the Local Option Sales Tax once again would give her city the opportunity to continue vital programs to the citizens of Eldon.

"If this is not passed, we would have to scale back on what we do at the library and the police department; for the streets and of course the upgrading and the maintenance of our equipment. It would be detrimental to many of the services and the departments that Eldon provides," Stacy said.

Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel agrees. He says that not only would the smaller communities in the county be hurting, but rural residents would see their property taxes increase.

"Rural tax payers, we do a rural property tax relief for them which is 25%. They would get a 25% increase in their county property tax levy and the rest we would use on capitol projects," Siegel said.

And as always, public safety is always on the mind of the community. Just recently, Don Kirkendall retired from the Wapello County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Kirkendall led the department for many years; and under his command, Chief Deputy Mark Miller, who is now interim sheriff, shadowed Kirkendall, preparing him to step into the role of sheriff.

"I am very fortunate to be unopposed; but I really hope it shows the level of confidence the citizens have in me. You know I have 24 and a half years in their, I think everybody that knows me and who has worked with me knows that I am conscientious. I am at work everyday. I work hard and I care about the community and my job, and I am just looking forward to putting my mark on law enforcement in Wapello County as sheriff; as opposed to a deputy and a chief deputy all of these years," Miller said.

Candidates running for state house and senate races also participated in the forum.