City Times Staff
Mike Phillips is running for re-election of the city’s 10th district seat. He is the senior member of the city council, having been first elected in 1995. He lost his seat in 2004 but was reelected in 2012. Phillips is currently council president. Phillips is being challenged by Bob Larson.
Why are you running for office?
MP: “I think I’ve got some years left to offer, due to my past experience. I know a lot of people around the city, and have and always will represent the constituents of my district. Also a lot of people in the city have said they wish I was their alderman.”
Have you noticed a change in the council since last year’s election?
MP: “This city council has taken a major turn. We need to make the business environment here a friendly one for businesses to move to town. I don’t think that any company has ever asked us about wanting more bicycle racks, and I think we have more green space and parks here than most other cities. But this is a business community. I don’t think we can ever promote this city to be a tourist town, because there’s nothing tourist-related here — after two days, you’re out of stuff to see.”
Where are some of our problem areas that need addressing in the city?
MP: “Housing is being stretched right now; we’re limited where we can build in town. I’ve been talking with directors and everyone else about our streets; we cut the budget last year by $100,000 for street replacement and seal coating, and to me, that’s the wrong direction. We have some bad streets, and I know it’s a never ending battle, but we’re doing in the wrong direction.
“Another question I’ve been asking is, ‘Do we need more parks?’ No. We’ve got to begin generating some revenue for this city. Parks cost us money and don’t make anything in return.”
What are you thoughts on the Bus. 51? Is that something we should act on?
MP: “I don’t think we can go down to two lanes. I think that would be going back to the 1960s. These computer models we had used when the project first came up, I think they’re wrong. I think what should happen there is just leave it as is, do an overlay, maybe some turn signals in a few spots. But we do not want to enlarge the footprint of that road. It just needs to take place; it should be replaced if necessary but I think a lot of it is okay yet.”
What are you thoughts on moving city offices to another location?
MP: “City hall itself has a little bit of storage space, and in my opinion has enough room. The issue is the police department, their layout isn’t a good one. We’ve got [the former location of] Mid-State, and I don’t want to push the issue of moving there, but I’m on the committee, and we’re going to look at everything, every building that’s available in town- every one. It’s just a we were led to believe [the former] Mid-State was too small. Right now we are taking up 20,000 square feet of all the offices combined. They’re telling me we can’t fit in there. I agree the layout isn’t right, but there’s 35,000 square feet in [the former Mid-State]. The county is offering us nothing to stay here [in the courthouse], so I just don’t wanna deal with those people.”
The city has approved a pocket park, known as Cultural Commons, which was planned partially by some who work for the city and without public input. Did you agree with that process?
MP: “I think everything should have been brought out for the public; if there’s a cost to the taxpayer. If it’s an enhancement to the taxpayer, new playground equipment, then I don’t know if the taxpayer needs to hear everything. If it would have been brought out, it would been perceived as being discreet, but I know people were talking about it. I wasn’t wasn’t knowledge about it, I wasn’t in the known, and that’s a big a thing.”