Meet the Candidates — City Council: Aaron Stearns

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election

Your Daily Local reached out to the candidates for City Council to get their take on some of the most pressing issues currently facing the City of Warren. Their responses follow.

(Editor’s note: we are running the questions and responses in their entirety, with only minor corrections made for spelling/grammar where applicable.)

See all the candidates here.

AARON STEARNS

Q: What most qualifies you to serve on City Council?
A: I am no more “qualified” than any other citizen of Warren to serve on City Council. I believe that purpose is a better justification for my election. I have lived in this area my entire life. I have watched the good jobs that built this area leave. I have watched many of our neighborhoods fall into disrepair. I have witnessed our population decrease. I have lived the reality that those circumstances created. All along we have, for the most part, continued to Govern as though those circumstances weren’t reality. We need to do better for ourselves and our children. I believe that I can help Warren to not only live in its current reality but better it as we move forward.

Q: Why should someone “cross the aisle” to cast their vote for you?
A: Firstly, I think we all need to take a step back and assess the divide we have allowed to be created amongst ourselves. Yes, we will have some different viewpoints, but at heart, I believe we all want the same things. We all want a safe, vibrant community to live in and raise a family in if that is the path we choose. The basics are simple. Family sustaining jobs, safety and services funded by tax dollars, and opportunity for all citizens to make their better life.

Q: What is the most pressing issue currently facing the City, and how do you propose to solve it?
A: Our number one issue is a declining population and the declining revenue stream that comes with it. To combat that we need to encourage economic development, but also to make sure we hold industry accountable to our community. We need family-sustaining wages to come with any development we pursue. We need to move Warren from a renters economy to an owners economy.

Q: What does development of Washington Park look like to you?
A: I see Washington Park as it is now. A beautiful passive Park. Aside from the cost of maintaining any development, we must also look at the effect development has on nature. I spend a lot of time in that area. I was up there last week and saw 25 deer and 15 turkeys in an hour. More development means less of that. There are plenty of trails and views to be had already.

Q: What budgetary solutions would you offer in order to hold the line on taxes?
A: The easiest way to hold the line on our current taxes is to increase the earnings of the workers and businesses in the city. We too often turn to cutting services without ever addressing how we might increase the funding stream.

Q: What key piece is the City missing that would allow it to attract more residents/businesses and how would you propose to find it?
A: Pieces. No one item will fix our issues. We need to develop the riverfront in an environmentally conscious manner. A boat launch would be huge for that, but we must move farther. We need to prioritize local developers who have a vested interest in our community. We also need to, again, hold those developers accountable to our community and ensure they are paying a living wage. We must also make our community more attractive to young people. One sure-fire way to do that is decriminalization of recreational Marijuana while offering family-sustaining jobs.

Q: Aside from withdrawing from the mutual aid agreement, what steps can the City take to help solve the EMS crisis?
A: I was a member of Volunteer Departments for 25 years. The biggest issue facing those departments is the time it takes to remain certified and the insurance burden those departments and members face. It is a numbers game. The way that is fixed is only through lobbying the State Government to come up with solutions for the training hours required and to force the outlying municipalities to begin reimbursing members for the work time lost protecting their communities.

Q: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in the City?
A: I am open to any input from City residents. I will have a dedicated line for calls and my email will be available, checked, and responded to.

Q: If elected, what steps would you take to put the City on more sound financial footing?
A: The same way we hold the line on taxes. Expand our revenue stream through the development of family-sustaining jobs.