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Election preview

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 12:18 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 12:25 p.m. CDT

Reducing property taxes and upgrading street conditions are the primary focuses of Gary Lybarger — running for at-large councilperson on Creston City Council during this year's general election slated Nov. 5.

"We must get our property taxes under control," Lybarger said. "We aren't No. 1 in the state, but we are right up there. If I'm elected, I'd like to do some investigating into city finances and see where we can make some changes. Do we have unnecessary spending? I'd like to find out."

The 67-year-old Lybarger said his second priority, if elected, would be finding long-term solutions to city street repairs "so they won't need fixed every six months."

"The streets are in disrepair," Lybarger said. "They have cracks, bumps and potholes. We need to make a plan on how to fix these streets so we aren't doing them all year long."

Lybarger is no stranger to city business.

He was building inspector for the city of Creston for 12 years, retiring December 2012. As inspector, Lybarger examined electrical, plumbing and mechanical issues in commercial and residential buildings.

Two years ago, Lybarger ran for mayor of Creston. He was defeated in that election by current mayor Warren Woods by 34 votes. Lybarger — a Vietnam veteran — said if elected he will always listen to the public's concerns.

"We must listen to the people," Lybarger said. "It's like (the current council) doesn't have time to listen to the people who elected them. I will listen to the public. I'd like to see the council work together with the public in making decisions."

Lybarger is running against Courtney Wilson, Kevin Downey and incumbent Paul Vandevender for the at-large city councilperson seat.

"I don't have a problem with any of the others running," Lybarger said. "I just feel I'm better qualified. I know what's going on with the city because I had 12 years experience as inspector and know what could, should and needs to be done."

Lybarger resides in Creston with his wife Shirley.

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Kevin Downey — in a four-way race for at-large city councilperson — said he wants to be the "big voice" that motivates people to have pride in the Creston community.

"The town looks pretty bad," Downey said. "We have a lot of nuisance properties in Creston and my major thing, if elected, is working with those people to clean up their properties. We need to get that pride back."

Downey, 55, also mentioned his concern for the amount of money the city alots for their employees' health insurance. The city currently budgets about $19,000 per year for employee health insurance.

Meanwhile, the county — which switched to Bernie Lowe and Associates about two years ago — is only budgeting about $15,800 per employee.

"We should at least let Bernie Lowe and Associates come make a presentation," Downey said. "And, not just them. We need to be shopping for the best rates. Why not save our taxpayers a little money?"

Other priorities for Downey include attracting new business, taking care of infrastructure and providing better venues for Creston youths.

Downey ran two years ago for at-large councilperson, but was defeated by Nancy Loudon.

Downey — honorably discharged from the U.S. Army — has lived in Creston for 48 years. He owned his own business, KD Maintenance, serving Creston's plumbing and electrical needs for more than 20 years. Downey retired in 2004.

Downey is running against Courtney Wilson, Gary Lybarger and incumbent Paul Vandevender for the at-large city council seat.

"I've been to almost every city council meeting for the past three years," Downey said. "The people just have to give me a chance. Voters should vote for me because I'm persistent and have love and compassion for this community."

Downey resides in Creston. He has three adult children including Spencer, Tyler and Delanie.

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In April, the city council appointed the Rev. Paul Vandevender to fill the at-large city councilperson seat vacated by Terri Koets. Vandevender is now seeking election for his at-large seat in this general election against challengers Kevin Downey, Gary Lybarger and Courtney Wilson.

Vandevender — pastor at Creston’s Apostolic Lighthouse Church in Creston and maintenance supervisor for Super 8 and Supertel Inn and Suites —said sitting on the council over the past six months has been a learning process.

"I'm running in this election for the betterment of the community," Vandevender said. "I'm thankful for what Creston has given me for 25 years and I want to give back."

Vandevender, 59, said his top priority is reaching out to citizens and getting them "to come to city council meetings and voicing their opinions."

Vandevender admits he's still trying to find his niche in the wide world of city business.

"I've been learning and absorbing information since being appointed," Vandevender said. "I'm trying to find where I best fit into the city business and where I can most benefit Creston. Like I said, I want to give back."

Vandevender said he feels he's the best candidate because he's "worked with people and problems over the years and been able to be fair and find equitable solutions for all sides."

Vandevender and his wife Debi reside in Creston. They have two adult sons — Ronn and Tim.

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Courtney Wilson — granddaughter of current Creston city councilperson Marsha Wilson — is by far the youngest candidate running for the at-large city councilperson seat in this year's general election slated Nov. 5.

But, don't write her off because of her age — she said — and don't assume she will be pursuaded by her grandmother when it comes time to vote on city business.

"Don't let my age fool you," Wilson said. "I'm my own person. I speak my own mind and my grandmother's opinions will not sway me one way or the other."

The 20-year-old Wilson — who graduated from Southwestern Community College in May — said she's running for the next generation. Wilson is currently attending Buena Vista University with aspirations of graduating with degrees in criminal justice and human services.

Wilson's top priority is "the next generation" and pursuing opportunities through city council to provide a safe venue for students and young adults to hang out.

"There is nothing for kids to do in Creston," Wilson said, "especially on the weekends. So, they come up town and create problems for everyone. When I was younger, there was a skating rink. We need something like that where kids can go and stay out of trouble."

Wilson is also concerned with the number of nuisance properties in Creston.

"Paul (Ver Meer) and the (Creston) firefighters are working to take care of the nuisance properties, but they have many other responsibilities," Wilson said. "The city council is harping on these people. We just have to keep cleaning up one property at a time."

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