Three candidates compete to be Mayor of Augusta

AUGUSTA - Three candidates are vying to be the next mayor of Augusta. The election is this Tuesday, April 2.

The three are current incumbent Jason TePaske, who is also a businessman in the community and bus driver for the school districts. The second is Stacy Randall, a business owner herself along with being a retired teacher from the Augusta School District. Both candidates are on the ballot. A third candidate, Rick Johnson, a former machinist with MRS and currently working at Bush Brothers in Augusta.

A list of over eight topics were discussed during the meeting as the candidates all gave their answers to each topic question along with introducing themselves. A forum for the two candidates competing for a seat on the school board was held the same day and location but earlier.

One of the topics in contention was policing. Randall stated that her statements on looking over the budget of the Augusta Police Department was distorted on social media and that she was not in favoring of "defunding" the police but making sure that law enforcement spending priorities along with cutting waste were met. Johnson believed that a concerted effort was needed by the city to hire more police for the department, espeically with it also covering Bridge Creek as well and TePaske warned that any consideration of turning over law enforcement duties to Eau Claire County was not feasible.

"They appreciate greatly what we do out here in terms of law enforcement because they're not exactly at full staff either," TePaske said.

On the topic of housing, Johnson stated that the city needed to upgrade its existing housing stock and make it better quality. TePaske said developing new housing was neither easy or cheap and the city should look at selling land it owns for senior housing or starter housing developments while Randall believes the city should go all out to develop family housing in the city.

"If we wish to attract new families to the city and the school district we have to have the available housing to meet their needs and we need to work to develop those new family homes."

TePaske said his top priorities if he is re-elected is to finish the infrastructure projects the city needs, especially with replacing old water and sewer lines, get new equipment for the public works department and upgrade and renovate city owned properties like city hall for example. Randall said she wants to go through he entire city budget to look at how money is being spent and prioritize areas of need. J0ohnson agreed with this along with spending more on law enforcement and seeing if the city can get good deals for the land it has to help develop new businesses in the community.

"I think we have to do a better job of using the resources we have to attract new business iif we have land we can sell and get good value for it along looking at ways at getting vcanta, unused land towards development." Johnson said.


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