Candidates address long-term growth, attracting businesses

By Jason Arndt

Editor

City of Burlington voters in the fourth aldermanic district will decide whether to retain incumbent Todd Bauman or elect challenger Frank Korb in Tuesday’s election.

The two candidates advanced to the election following a February primary where Bauman garnered 63 votes to Korb’s 41 votes.

Art Gardner, the other challenger, did not move forward after losing by two votes.

Todd Bauman

Bauman, 47, was first elected to the Common Council in 2013 and has served three consecutive two-year terms.

He is a silica processor at Applied Materials Solutions in Burlington and currently serves as an aldermanic representative on the Board of Public Works.

He has lived in District 4 for 10 of his 44 years as a resident of the city.

Korb, 46, an art teacher, is a first-time challenger and has been involved as a volunteer in campaign efforts of candidates seeking state and federal office. He has been a fourth district for 18 years.

Frank Korb

The candidates were asked the same questions, which covered a number of topics. Those questions and their answers, with candidates listed alphabetically, follow:

 

      Q: What do you see as the city’s biggest challenge and how do you plan on addressing it?

Bauman: The city’s biggest challenge is being competitive with some of our surrounding cities to attract more businesses. Sadly, more and more companies are only looking to build in cities that are right on, or close to a interstate. To get some of those companies that have been requested since the day I took office is always a challenge with our location. We, as a city, are looking at ways to drive those opportunities to Burlington. There are many options that we are considering such as TID’s. Once again, we are very optimistic that we are in a good position with all that we have to offer as a city to drive in new businesses.

Korb: Some of what I see as concerns for the city are the number of empty spaces and abandoned properties in the community. I stand behind developing and maintaining new properties and then bringing in sustainable new businesses. Storefronts, empty lots, and spaces that are in need of repair can be a blight on the face of the community, and I would like to investigate, and hear others ideas on how those concerns might be worked on. As an alderman, listening to the fourth district residents, as well as the community at large, is part of what I will be doing to help bring continued positive growth to the city and the surrounding areas.

 

      Q: With the Burlington Senior Activity Center currently holding a rent-free lease for another year, what are your thoughts on this topic?

Bauman: The Senior Center is a project that I have had mixed opinions on. I want, and hope, that this center will thrive and bring all sorts of opportunities to our seniors. The rent-free option is a way for the city to lend a hand to this new endeavor to hopefully allow it to be very successful. I would love to see this center be a model for other cities some day, where people come and say “Wow! What a great place and a huge asset to its seniors.”

      Korb: I support the senior center being available to the hold a rent-free lease for another year. Working to develop and maintain a space that benefits our seniors is an important part of any community’s responsibility to help its senior population. As the program continues to grow and develop, there may be further ways for monies to be raised in order to contribute to rent and maintenance. As the Burlington Senior Activity Center moves into its second year and is still in the process of developing additional programs and offerings, helping to alleviate the costs of rent and allowing growth is important.

 

      Q: How do you see the city’s current property tax situation?

      Bauman: Burlington’s current property taxes are, in my opinion, still a little higher than I would like to see them. That being said, though I also feel that we provide the city residents with a very high level of service, I believe in my last six years that we have held the line on taxes considering some of the huge projects and challenges that we’ve faced. My goal will always be to spend the citizens taxes in the best way possible to achieve our very high level of service that I feel Burlington has and to be mindful of the higher cost that it also imposes on them.

Korb: As a local homeowner myself, I want to be taxed fairly and transparently by assessors skilled at determining the value of my property. Knowing how values are assessed — and that valuations are done consistently — is important so that everyone can know about the calculations of the taxes and be aware of a fair tax rate (and not overpaying). All that said, it is important to remember that in order for a community to operate, educate, protect, maintain, and grow, taxes are essential. And I’m proud to pay taxes to support my community.

 

      Q: Growth, both residential and commercial, has been key item of discussion over the last two years. What are your plans to draw people and businesses into the community?

      Bauman: Burlington’s growth is a major issue as we move forward. These past few years, we have finally started to see some very positive developments in Burlington. Our historic downtown has seen some major improvements and added businesses. We are hopeful that Foxconn will allow us to gain some more economic growth in both business and residential. We have a huge need to see new residential development because our housing market right now is very tight. The addition of Phase II at the Glen of Stonegate is a beginning, but I will do all that I can to gain more building in housing. I am hopeful that in the next year we will be able to attract more builders to expand residential even more.

Korb: Maintaining a welcoming and friendly community is important to continue to help Burlington grow, both as a residential and commercial environment. Burlington has done many wonderful things to draw people in. ChocolateFest and Hot ChocolateFest, seasonal parades and fireworks, craft and fine arts fairs, theatrical and musical events, and the Farmers Market are just a few. The continued development of seasonal activities for families is important to maintain that small town feel and our connection to the agriculture around us. I would like to see the development of a multi-use fine arts facility and performance space that would add to cultural offerings we already have. I would like to also see us build upon the successful programs at Gateway Technical College to expand the educational (and continuing-ed.) opportunities for people of all ages. In addition, Burlington also is home to national and international businesses that help our community as well as communities all over the world. Maintaining and developing plans to continue our growth is important, and I look forward listening to community members who have ideas to help keep Burlington moving forward.

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