Nichols, Doaty vie for mayor

Esther Noe

After the appointment of Mike Verchio following the resignation of Kathy Skorzewski, Hill City once again has a race for the position of Hill City Mayor.
On June 4 residents can vote between Tana Nichols and Stefanie Doaty. The winner will serve a two-year term in office.
Nichols has been a resident of Hill City for almost 30 years and is currently the manager of Hill City Harley Davidson. She also served four terms on the Hill City Common Council from 2000-08.
A few months ago Nichols began thinking about running for mayor and said, “I think there are some definite changes needed. I’d like to see more communication between the council and the community and more communication between the council and the city employees. I believe the council needs more accountability and transparency. Most of all, I’d like to see more follow-through on projects and issues.”
Nichols said she knows the history of the community, what worked, what did not and the reasoning behind it.
“I understand how to help prioritize projects and am willing to do my best to involve the citizens and the council to work together to better our community,” said Nichols.
If elected, Nichols said her duties would include running the meetings and staying informed on issues.
“Although the mayor has no vote, except to break a tie, I would try to bring the council together to work together and find compromises. I know most people can’t always get to a council meeting, so I would do everything possible to keep the community informed on things going on and decisions being made,” said Nichols.
Along with this, Nichols said, “I would be willing to submit a ‘mayor’s column’ in the Prevailer to keep people informed and break things down for everyone to understand if things are complicated. I wrote a column when I was a council member called ‘Council Corner’ and have been approached many times about people missing the column.”
Finally, Nichols said, “I would oversee city employees and find out what they need from the city and what the city expects from them. I would sign checks and be available for the citizens if they have questions or comments that need to be heard.”
In Nichols’ opinion, the main priority of the City of Hill City is getting the water and sewer issues resolved.
“Since it will be an expensive project, I would like to see the community get involved in helping to find revenue for the completion without raising water bills or other ideas being passed around.”
Nichols would also like to improve road maintenance, finish paving other roads and form better communication between citizens and city hall.
“I want to hear everyone out and give them the time to complete their thoughts, ideas and questions,” said Nichols. “Besides the water/sewer issues, my main goal is to bring the community together with the mayor and council. I believe personal agendas and conflict of interests need to be ended in order to allow the citizens of Hill City to trust local government again.”
When asked why people should vote for her, Nichols said, “Because I have been working hard to understand the issues of today’s council and am anxious to bring the citizens together to work with the council to accomplish the goals necessary for our community.
“I truly want what is best for Hill City. I’ve seen mayors and council members come and go, but I believe what is needed most is people that have experience in local government and in the history of Hill City. My goal would be to understand what each city employee does for the city and what the city can do to make their job better.
“My goal is to offer true communication to the people of Hill City and the employees and to understand the difference between progress and pipe dreams.”
Stefanie Doaty is a certified surgical technologist and has been a resident of Hill City for seven years. She began considering running for mayor in November and said, “I decided to run for mayor because I want to keep our community a community.”
“I think I will bring positivity to this position. I listen to people and what they have to say. I keep an open mind to everything. I have held many leadership roles over the past few years, and I believe that the things I have learned in those positions will make me a great mayor,” said Doaty.
If elected, Doaty said one of her duties would be to get everyone to work together as a team including the city staff, public works department, planning and zoning commission, park and recreation board, Hill City Common Council, residents and business owners.
“We are all part of a large team, and we need to find a way to work together and stop trying to break us down,” said Doaty.
In Doaty’s opinion, one of the biggest issues facing the City of Hill City is infrastructure like roads, water, sewer and public transportation.
“The deferred maintenance on our infrastructure will wind up costing the city more money to repair than what it does to fix the problem when it’s seen. This will then go to increase taxes and other surcharges to our residents, and that’s not fair or right because they are not the ones who waited on fixing the problem,” Doaty said.
The lack of progress is another concern. Doaty said, “It seems as though when things are brought up, they get tabled and then they get forgotten about until someone brings it back up months or even a year later. There needs to be more accountability.”
Finally, Doaty said the current zoning and variance processes are an issue.
“There is no accountability and it seems to favor certain individuals. There is no equality for this process,” she said.
One specific issue Doaty would like to address is coming up with a solution to avoid increasing water rates as was suggested as a worst-case scenario by city engineer AE2S in the Water Facility Master Plan.
“Knowing that a majority of our residents live on a fixed income, I want to try to come up with a solution to avoid increasing the rate by $50 a month. Will we need to eventually raise the rate? The answer is yes. But I don’t want our residents to suffer.
“Things are so expensive now such as gas, groceries, clothing. I don’t want a resident to have to make a choice on whether to pay the water bill or get gas for their vehicle so they can get to work where they get paid to put a roof over their families’ heads, food on the table, clothing on their kids’ back, etc. We need to figure out something that will work for everyone and make it fair for everyone,” said Doaty.
When asked why people should vote for her, Doaty said, “Even though I may not have lived here my entire life, or half my life, this is my home. I have put roots down here. I believe I have made a positive impact on the town since being here.
“I am currently president on the Hill City Park and Recreation Board, and have helped to rejuvenate Tracy Park, and have been on the Memorial Park planning committee to help revitalize Memorial Park.
“I am also the president of the Hill City Lions Club. I have helped lift the club and, with trying new things such as bingo and our Rubber Duck Race, we have been able to not only increase our scholarship awards to the graduating Leo students, but we are able to give back even more than what we did before to our community.”
“This is what a leader does, and I know that I can help lead Hill City,” said Doaty. “I will fight for our residents and local business owners. They are what makes this city great. I will be here with a listening ear waiting to hear what you have to say. We all need to work together to make Hill City great. And with everyone’s help, we can.”
The Hill City Lions Club is hosting a Meet the Candidates Night Tuesday, May 14 at the Hill City Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the mayor forum is at 7:20 p.m. following the Ward 1 forum at 6 p.m. and the Ward 2 forum at 6:40 p.m.
Polls will be open Tuesday, June 4, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hill City Center.

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