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Police, budget top priorities for Mabton council candidates

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Workers from L.S. Fencing in Yakima attempt to re-do fencing along South First Street that provides construction sight and sound protection for homeowners in the area.

MABTON - There are only two full months left in 2009 and the city of Mabton still doesn't have financial figures for the year on how it's doing in staying on budget.

That's an area of concern for Maria Rose - listed as Maria Cepeda-Rose on the ballot - and Mark Gourneau, candidates this November for Mabton City Council's position three seat.

Rose says to prevent this problem from happening again the city council needs to keep a closer eye on the city's bottom line. "Council has to do its part, stay on top of things."

Rose feels council members should be requesting financial data on a regular basis, weekly or even daily if need be. "They need to take some initiative," she says.

Gourneau agrees, but also feels the city needs to hire a full-time person qualified to balance municipal books. He says the lack of a qualified employee doing the accounting is what got Mabton into this mess.

Currently the city has an interim clerk under contract through the end of the year to help right the fiscal ship.

Rose, a home health care provider for her mother, said she decided to enter the council race when she saw the conflict between the city council and mayor. "Hopefully I can offer an outside view and we can get along," she said.

Though she has not run for office before, Rose is on the city's planning commission where she serves as secretary.

Gourneau, a student at YVCC starting in the winter quarter, said he has attended council meetings for the past three years to stay informed. This is also his first run for office. He also serves on the city's beautification committee.

Besides the budget, both Gourneau and Rose say top of their priorities would be to bring in more police protection.

Calling it a "tragedy," Rose said that Mabton has only one full time police officer and two reserve officers.

"There's a lot of graffiti. There's car racing, it's an accident waiting to happen," she said of the city's state since the police chief was laid off.

Besides cleaning up crime, Gourneau said he'd also like to see Mabton spruced up a bit. That in turn, he says, could lead to more business and sales tax revenue for the city's strapped budget.

"We have to clean up the city, make it welcoming to visitors and citizens," he said. Gourneau said council should also be proactive in seeking grant dollars to fund improvements.

Rose also feels that council is not doing enough to utilize the three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax that is supposed to go to law enforcement. She says that not all the money has been spent because of the city's budget crunch.

Gourneau says voters should consider him for the council post because of his interest in having the city council be more transparent to the community.

"I want to be there for the citizens," he said. "I've felt the mayor and council haven't listened a lot to the citizens."

Rose said that voters should consider her because of her focus on bringing a more positive tone to city hall.

"Council and the mayor should project a positive attitude," she said. "This is a good community. It has a lot to offer. We should all ask what we can do to try to work for the betterment of the city."

 

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