Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Mayors discuss city issues at forum

 


With the general election less than two weeks away, candidates have been flocking to various forums to talk about their views on subjects impacting local, county and state offices.

Wednesday night was Green River’s mayoral candidates’ turn to face questions, this time posed by the Green River Chamber of Commerce and city residents. Candidates Mark Peterson and Pete Rust discussed the city's problems and the importance of economic development in Green River.

Rust currently works as the transportation director at Sweetwater County School District No.1 in Rock Springs, a post he plans to retire from at the end of the school year. Previously, he worked for the state as an OSHA inspector and as the land use director for Sweetwater County. He originally moved to the county to become a Bureau of Land Management wild lands firefighter in 1980. He has master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor of science degree in political science.

Rust said he feels the most important roles for the mayor are to provide leadership and effective communication to the city’s residents.

Peterson owns and operates the Rust Rodz shop on Flaming Gorge Way and serves as a city councilman. Peterson said he’s learned a lot during the last year and 10 months in office, saying he’s learned the city’s politics from Green River’s streets and alleys. He’s lived in the city his whole life, calling Green River’s corridor the crown jewel of Sweetwater County. Peterson said tough issues are coming up for the city, which he wants to help solve as the mayor.

Candidates were first asked what they believed was the biggest issue the city faced. Peterson said the city needs to be fiscally responsible for the money it spends, saying he spent the first eight months as a councilman tracking every nickel the city spent.

Rust said he believes the city is in for some tough times ahead, but doesn’t think everything is doom and gloom for Green River. He said the city has to take a conservative stance on spending, focusing on basic services like police and fire protection, then moving on maintaining its infrastructure. He believes the city’s grants writer is a huge asset for Green River and said the city needs to work with the county and state for more funding.

While talking about the airport, Rust said he thinks the strip is a bad use for city funds.

“I think it’s a waste of money at the time,” Rust said.

He said he believes the depot is a different matter, noting Cheyenne’s train depot is used for events and houses businesses. He also said he supports economic development, saying most cities in Wyoming have an economic development professional working to bring businesses.

Rust said the airport and depot are on hold and said the airport shouldn’t be developed until they can figure a way to make money off of it. Speaking of the depot, he said the same thing.

“I want to see how that’s going to generate money as well,” Peterson said.

He does think the city has plenty of land to use for economic development.

Discussing how to increase the volunteer base in the city, Peterson said if the programs are fun, the volunteers will come out with little incentive. However, if the programs are a lot of work, he said they’ll draw fewer volunteers. He said volunteers are the backbone of the city, citing groups like the Green River Arts Council.

Rust said volunteers are crucial in his agenda and getting people interested in city events will help increase volunteer numbers.

Talking about the GRPD’s $300,000 shooting range, Rust said he didn’t have an answer as to how much more the city should spend to complete the range. He does see a potential for public use, but understands logistical concerns police have involving public usage.

Peterson said the project is complete with the shooting range’s instillation and said the police have been neglected for a long time. He said the projects like the police and municipal court building are spendy, but well worth the time.

The candidates were also asked if the city administrator form of local government is the best for the city, Rust said the strong mayor form, which the mayor holds a lot of power in the day-to-day operations, has poor criteria for finding its leader. He said a city administrator is someone who is trained in operating a city, while a strong mayor is picked through only popular vote.

Peterson also believes a city administrator is needed as a middle man to function between the council and the city department heads. He also said that since Police Chief Chris Steffen took over as the interim administrator, things have gotten much quieter.

Both men also support finding ways to increase tourism into the city.

 

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