Voters in Yukon will go to the polls Tuesday to fill a vacancy for Ward 2 on the city council.
The seat is currently held by John Alberts, who is is term-limited.
Three candidates have filed for the office.
Ward Larson is a former city council member who left office after being term-limited. He served from 2003 through 2010. Larson and his wife, Carolyn, recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. They have three children. Larson has lived in Yukon for almost 41 years. He said he has been unable to campaign because of an injury that prevents him from walking.
Shelli Shelby is a former school counselor and is now the women’s pastor for West Metro Community Church. She and her husband, Bart, have five children. She has lived in Yukon for 30 years. Selby does not have previous political experience, but has served on a number of community boards.
Erick Westfahl is in construction management industry and has lived in Yukon for 15 years. He and his wife, Kasi, have two children. This is Westfahl’s first venture into politics.
Also, Richard Cacini will fill the Ward 1 seat being vacated by Richard Russell, who chose not to seek a second term. Cacini is a well-known community leader, whose volunteer work includes the Yukon Veterans Museum and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Kathy, have five children. He has lived in Yukon for 28 years. He has no previous political experience.
The Yukon Review asked each of the candidates a series of questions. The following are their responses.
Why are you running for office?
Larson: I want to ensure that the city continues in their efforts to make a complete financial recovery that was due to the inappropriate actions of the prior city manager, the financial adviser and the auditor. This council, since the return of Jim Crosby as our city manager, has made good progress to date but it needs to have an appropriate final conclusion. I want to work with our professionals to help guide Yukon to a higher level of success on all undertakings in the future. I believe that with my years of management and city council experience I will be an effective and credible council person for the city of Yukon. I will make decisions based on what is best for Yukon. These decisions, as in my past, will first be based on a full review and analysis of all of the data and facts.
Selby: I love my community and want to be a part of keeping it great. I want to bring transparency to the office and keep the citizens’ needs and concerns at the forefront.
Westfahl: I am running for office because I feel the Yukon City Council needs someone with municipal construction experience that can help lead the council in sound, conservative decisions.
Cacini: I want to give back to my community for all they have done for my family while I served overseas.
What are the biggest issues facing Yukon?
Larson: The vast majority of city funding comes from sales tax revenue.
Counteracting the drain of sales tax revenue to Oklahoma City that is occurring due to the retail development on the south side of 10th Street is critical. I believe that we must encourage development on the south side of I-40 and east of Frisco Road as soon as possible. Construction of the Frisco Road interchange will help us tremendously, but that is not an instant fix. In the meantime, we must do what we can to encourage and retain investment where practical in our city limits. Remember, city sales tax pays for salaries, infrastructure, road repair, garbage, and the overall image of the city.
Selby: As always, a big issue facing the city is how to best use the taxpayers’ money that we have been entrusted with. With what has happened in the past with Grayson Bottom, our citizens have a lot of mistrust. We must be transparent and earn that trust back by being good stewards. I also feel we have to do something to improve the water issues whether it is increasing conservation, better meters/readings or finding other sources. And lastly, the issue of State Highway 4 is heavy on my heart. This strip of highway has to be corrected. How many more lives must be lost? This should be a priority and not something that has been put on the back burner.
Westfahl: Yukon’s biggest issue is that it is landlocked by Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, we cannot expand our boundaries to increase our revenue potential. This makes responsible planning of these potential areas crucial.
With growth, there will be growing pains. Our neighboring communities (some right across our streets) are also developing. One major duty our council will be facing is managing that growth without compromising our safety, our school systems or our businesses.
Affordable, sustainable water resources should be a priority to our city now and not after we depend solely on the “generosity” of outside sources that did plan ahead.
Cacini: Education, water, caring for the elderly and veterans.
What do you see in Yukon’s future?
Larson: Completion of Frisco Road interchange. Highway 4 (Piedmont Road) completion. Originally voted in during my second term. Increased traffic volume will require a full analysis of methods created to flow efficiency. Phased-in conversion to smart water meters to allow homeowners instant feedback. Increase sales tax revenues by aggressive salesmanship to help and encourage retailers to locate in Yukon.
Selby: I see Yukon growing but still retaining the community feel. I love the direction we are heading with our community development. This is a great place to live and raise a family.
Westfahl: We know Yukon will experience substantial growth in the coming years. How that growth is managed will depend on what is done in these important months. We can be a showcase for our state if we plan responsibly. The future is bright for Yukon. I see young families and retirees looking for a safe, heathy and active life calling Yukon home. I see innovative companies investing in Yukon and our citizens investing in them. I see Yukon as a destination.
Cacini: Great advancement into the 21st century
What do you hope to accomplish?
Larson: Make decisions that will keep Yukon on track to fully restore their financial credibility. I want all performing employees to feel the comfort of job security and everyone to take pride in a progressive and successful Yukon. Again, recover the damages from those who were responsible for creating Yukon’s financial crisis.
Selby: I hope to bring the concerns and needs of the citizens to the Council. I don’t want to ever forget I am voting for them, not myself. I would love to see Yukon have more family friendly venues. A sporting complex would be nice but not at the previous price. We need to look for matching grants to help defray the cost. Our taxes are high enough. We need to be innovative in our funding.
Westfahl: My goals as a councilman are to help create an atmosphere within our city government that acts in partnership with its citizens. The city must regain trust by being efficient, accountable and transparent. I hope to lead our city to help local businesses thrive in a highly competitive market. To not only compete with outside business but to make Yukon a destination for businesses. Finally, my goal is to help facilitate safer roadways to and from our community.
Cacini: Solving some of the issues.
Why should I vote for you?
Larson: I have the experience with the Yukon City Council duties and functions. I have functioned in my management roles with a very high degree of credibility and respect from my superiors, peers and staffs. I have managed my roles utilizing positive reinforcement, coupled with specific metrics by which performance can be objectively measured. I will not change any of my traits if elected to the Ward 2 Council position. I pledge this.
Selby: I want to be the voice for the people. I don’t have any hidden agendas. But want to keep Yukon the great city it is. I am not a politician but someone who wants to be a part of the solution for you, the citizens.
Westfahl: We are fortunate in this election to have three people run for this position that truly love their community. We each want safe roadways and affordable resources. Yet, if we want a representative for our community that is experienced in the necessary duties of management and planning, I believe that I am the right candidate for a time such as this.
Cacini: I have no financial backing from any businesses or organizations to influence my voting. I am running for my constituents to better serve my community.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.