Update: G.I. Mayor Candidates Debate Veterans Home, City Staffing
Grand Island, NE — Two of Grand Island’s candidates for mayor say they'd fire the current city administrator. The issue came up in a debate between Jeremy Jensen, Chuck Haase and Mayor Jay Vavricek Monday. Jensen and Haase said they'd get rid of Administrator Mary Lou Brown. “I would hire a different city administrator, perhaps one with metro experience,” said Haase. “My intention would be to replace the city administrator. That being said, I would want to target local people before going on a nationwide search.” Vavricek said turnover in that position wouldn't be good for the city. “Is that type of change in the CEO, the head of the organization, is that wise? Is that good? A tenure of two years for that top person is not good for any organization,” he said. Last year Vavricek asked for Brown’s resignation, but reinstated her months later. He also tried to oust City Attorney Bob Sivick. When asked about those decisions, Vavricek replied, “It would be my intention that each of those individuals would remain employed.” "The image problem is real outside of these borders and that's what needs to be fixed,” said Haase. “It's not that we're not successful, because we are; but we are successful despite the image problem." "If you're going to attract people to the community their perception needs to be that this is a positive and vibrant community, otherwise, it's going to be really difficult to continue to grow," he said. "When I host any number of different groups they can't believe Grand Island, the Heartland Events Center,” he said. “They can't believe the outstanding agriculture facilities at the state fair. They marvel at the Heartland Public Shooting Park." The candidates all agreed trimming the budget is the first step. Vavricek said his administration’s program prioritization approach is working. "I think it's foolish for any of the three of us to say that there won't be tax increases," said Jensen. "If we get to the point where the state does move it, we need to work with the state as our partners. We need to work with the CRA and we need to work with the community to see what we do with the facility," said Haase.