|Candidate Debate Sparks Airport Discussion|
|Friday, 25 January 2013 13:22|
Economic Development, Communication and Eminent Domain. The two candidates for supervisor got a chance Tuesday to express their views on these and other issues that impact Mahaska County as part of a public debate.
Any candidate for elected office will tell you how they can solve problems in office. At Tuesday's debate at Smokey Row, Democratic candidate Tom Rielly said the biggest change he'd like to make in the county was not about dollars and cents, it was about people.
"I think the biggest challenge that we have is retaining our best and brightest," Reilly says. "Instead of having our kids graduate from high school, go to college and then move on, I'd like to have them move back to Mahaska County. And mainly, because I think Mahaska County has a lot of offer, but we need to build on top of that, and how we start attracting some of our best and brightest back here, we need to create jobs. And we need to create a business atmosphere for business to expand and we need businesses to relocate here. And how do we do that? We make a business-friendly environment. We have to be competitive in our taxes, we have to hold the line on spending. We have to sit down with our business partners, find out what's burdensome and eliminate it."
But Rielly's opponent, Republican Mark Doland, saw the county's biggest problem a little differently. One of the biggest focuses of his campaign is protecting private land rights. Pella and Oskaloosa are currently working together to build a regional airport. That airport will require land, and a regional commission has recommended locating the airport on farm land along Highway 163 in Western Mahaska County. Doland says farmers in that area are scared of their land being taken away.
"It has caused an us-versus-them mentality," says Doland. "There hasn't been a lot of communication with landowners, at least they don't feel like they're being heard. So we need somebody to stand up for private property rights. I've stood up for many rights over my last 8 years in my involvement in local politics. I think some of them feel betrayed, they've been abandoned by those they've elected to support their rights so I'm standing in the gap for them."
Rielly disagreed, saying that acquiring land for the airport does not mean it is unfairly being taken away. He says owners of any land purchased for the airport would get the highest market values for their property.
"We're putting the cart way ahead of the horse, the site selection hasn't even been made yet, so they're can't even have an offer be made, yet we're trying to paint this picture like their land is going to be stolen from them. This is way ahead of the horse. I'd like to think the airport board could do their job, rather than scaring people that their land is just going to be taken from them and they're not gonna have an opportunity to negotiate," Reilly says.
While Doland says he doesn't know if a regional airport will benefit the community, he says he does have some ideas about what a supervisor could do to support economic development.
"Really this is an issue that's started at the state level, trickles its way down. As far as what the state has done and what the state can do is eliminating some of the burdensome regulations for new business start-ups, create opportunities for businesses to expand. Another thing we could do is look at the corporate income tax rate," Doland says.
Click the video below to watch the debate in its entirety.