Economic development and revitalizing the downtown sector highlighted the debate Monday evening between the three candidates for Mitchell Mayor.
Write-In candidate Paul Murrell says he is concerned about the future of the community due to all the vacant buildings downtown and maintained he is more concerned about mold remediation needed with the buildings than asbestos removal.
Councilman Dave Curtis say the city is working to get Brownfield Funds to study properties that need asbestos removal or renovation so they can eventually provide more suitable buildings that would be attractive for businesses to rent or purchase.
Curtis said, “The majority of our downtown are vacant buildings or buildings that are in need of much repair. We have a few that are going under renovations right now. But we need to continue to work to remodel others so we have safe buildings available for businesses that want to come to town.”
Taylor, who has been mayor for the past eight years, disagreed with Murrell’s belief that the community is in decline.
Taylor says, “We are doing a good Job. Our Police department is becoming strong again. Our city government itself is strong. We just need to be sure we continue what we are doing and that the people are involved. ”
Murrell said one of his priorities is to get more citizen input, claiming residents are discouraged they are not being heard. Taylor and Curtis said they have had few recent council meetings with more than twenty people and urged people to get on the agenda if they have a concern.
All three men say the town needs a grocery store and Murrell says he is working with Colorado investors to establish a smaller grocery store that would not be located in the vacant former grocery building.
Murrell said,” I’ve been in the process of working with Colorado investors to get us a grocery store. It is probably not going to be in the big store. We are looking at some other buildings. These guys are concerned about their investment and that’s why it is taking some time. ”
Taylor and Curtis said the city was working with a party interested in putting a grocery store in town but those efforts have failed.
Taylor and Curtis both pointed to a financially healthy Mitchell Care Center due to the work of a citizens advisory committee in the last year. All three men agreed they would never support closing the Care Center.