Gilliland looks forward to council role

ARIC GILLILAND

Aric Gilliland says that over the past few months, as he’s gone door-to-door talking to residents of his neighborhood, he’s learned one thing — people want a voice in city government.
Gilliland, 41, says he plans to be that voice when he takes the oath of office to begin serving as the city council member representing Ward 4 in Yukon.
That will occur May 5.
The Epic Charter School teacher and small business owner was elected to the seat Tuesday. He defeated another local business owner, Ken Wilkins, for the right to serve on the council.
Gilliland received 248 votes, or more than 72%.
“My goal was 300 votes. We got close,” Gilliland said.
Wilkins, who owns Archery Traditions, a local archery shooting range and shop, received 96 votes or 27.91%.
For both candidates, Tuesday’s election was their first venture into politics.
Gilliland will fill a seat being vacated by longtime Mayor Michael McEachern, who was precluded by term limits from seeking another consecutive term.
This is the second year in a row that voters turned to a teacher to fill a city council seat.
Jeff Wootton, who is a teacher at Yukon Middle School, easily outdistanced another longtime city official — Earline Smaistrla — to win the seat.
Gilliland and Donna Yanda, who did not have an opponent, will both be sworn into office at the beginning of the May 5 meeting.
Gilliland said he is excited about his new role.
“I am very excited to get to work and bring new ideas to the council. We have a good Facebook presence and I intend to keep that going. The work starts now,” he said.
Gilliland said he wants to be the voice of the average citizen, who he said is 38 with children.
“I think we are seeing a local version of populism. People want their voices heard at the municipal level. People are voting more for matching demographics,” he said.
Gilliland also said he isn’t surprised that two teachers have been elected to seats in recent years.
“A teacher is immersed in the community because they have so many students. It brings a perspective you can’t get in any other business,” he said.
Gilliland also said that the people’s interests need to be represented, not just the business community.
“When you filter how does this decision affect families rather than the business community, or how does it look in the newspaper, it does affect the decisions you make. It gives a voice to the average citizen,” he said. “They may not be able to be at every meeting or watching the budget or every decision.
On his social media pages, Gilliland said he was both honored and humbled to have been elected.
“Each vote for me represents a mark of confidence that I will work hard to fulfill!
I am excited to step into the Ward 4 Council Seat in May. Between now and then I look forward to hearing from you about your concerns and vision for our town!”
Gilliland and his wife, Rheannon, have seven children ranging in age from four months to 16.

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