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Ottawa mayoral candidates Dan Aussem, Robert Hasty file on 1st day

Both Mayor Dan Aussem and Robert Hasty announced their candidacies for Ottawa mayor in April’s election months ago, but it became official Monday morning when both filed paperwork at Ottawa City Hall.

As of 10 a.m. Monday morning, two have filed for Ottawa’s mayoral position and eight candidates filed for four at-large commissioner seats, including all four incumbents.

Commissioners Marla Pearson, James Less, Tom Ganiere and Wayne Eichelkraut each filed to keep their commissioner seats while Frank Miller, Clayton Brown, Matt Skelly and Dylan Conmy have filed for seats.

Monday was the first day to file for candidacy for Ottawa City Council. Candidates have until closing time Monday, Dec. 19, to file paperwork to be on the April ballot.

In the mayor’s race, Aussem touted his accomplishments as mayor and said he plans to keep up this pace and fulfill the pledges he made when he announced his initial campaign in 2018.

“I had a lot of goals I pledged to when I ran in 2018 and some of them are taken care of but most of them are not yet completed,” Aussem said. “I want to see the YMCA complete its construction and open up, and I think Nells Woodland is near completion and will have a ribbon cutting sometime soon.”

Hasty said he made the decision to run for mayor because he sees a need to move Ottawa forward with a specific, transparent vision that hasn’t yet been laid out in front of the public.

“There needs to be a cohesive vision that is laid out and displayed to the peole of Ottawa and it needs to be multi-faceted,” Hasty said. “There needs to be a cohesive understanding of what’s going to happen at the riverfront, what the timeline looks like and when it’ll be finished.”

Aussem said the city has had unprecedented success in receiving grants during his time as mayor, landing more than $20 million in various grants that go toward projects, such as one he hopes will fix the city’s railroad congestion.

The grant for that project was issued to the Port District, giving it $10 million to move the railroad switches from the current location between Route 23 and Champlain Street.

“We’re receiving all kinds of compliments about the downtown right now and I know my first year we had a bit of a fiasco with the lights but I think we’ve been able to redeem ourselves,” Aussem said. “Now we have the Chris Kringle Market and all the decorations downtown with volunteers that stepped up. We’re getting a lot of compliments.”

Aussem said the city has ongoing grant activity to renovate Allen Park and create handicap accessible fishing piers. Another grant application from Ottawa to FEMA seeks to help the city purchase the land that the YMCA sits on to tear down the building.

Hasty said the public knows there’s an amphitheater coming and a new YMCA being built, but he believes there should be a focus on what comes after that. He used the Illinois and Michigan Canal project as an example as a project that was built without a full vision of how it was going to be used.

“What are we going to do to make sure that once it’s built, it’s a success?” Hasty asked. “I don’t feel that’s being talked about right now. It’s just kind of in the air. ‘If we built it, it’ll come,’ and I think we need to be building it all with a purpose.”

Hasty also believes Ottawa could do more to communicate with its citizens via social media and calls for a greater transparency.

“I’m of the opinion that if you are not up front explaining and providing information, then people are going to start making it up for themselves,” Hasty said. “Whether that’s communicating why the leaves are being picked up according to a schedule or a new business opening in town, I think we need a City Hall engaged with its people on a daily basis so people know that those they elected are working for them.”

The consolidated election takes place on April 4.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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