Larry Wiens and Mike Alkire spoke at the McPherson Chamber of Commerce Saturday morning about their goals and vision for McPherson.

Larry Wiens and Mike Alkire spoke at the McPherson Chamber of Commerce Saturday morning about their goals and vision for McPherson.
Both men are seeking election to the McPherson City Commission. Elections will be held April 7. The position covers all divisions of city public works, including streets, engineering, wastewater and planning and zoning.
Alkire has served in this position for eight years. Wiens is seeking to replace him.
The candidates began by describing the position's duties. Alkire said he's been involved with recommending improvements to the city's public works, making budget decisions and being a liaison between the city and residents.
“Sometimes we're like a parent. Sometimes we say no,” Alkire said. “But we do our best to create a partnership.”
Wiens said he would like to talk to residents about their concerns and visit trouble areas to assess problems.
“I would like to see more participation in city meetings, and more debate on actions that seem wasteful to some but benefit others,” Wiens said.
The candidates discussed challenges facing public works activities, such as limited budgets. Alkire said the city has a process in place to determine which streets should be repaired first.
The process includes a visual inspection and traffic count, as well as budget considerations. Roads in poorer condition or higher traffic receive greater priority, and the city must decide whether a complete overhaul or refurbishment is in order.
“It's a complicated process, and we do it every year,” he said.
Wiens said he has no intention of changing the city's project priority system, but would like to see more attention given to potholes if the budget allows.
“McPherson isn't the only city with potholes and street issues, but you need money to do it,” he said. “I think they can be addressed more expediently, but I'd need to look at the whole situation first.”
Outside the position's duties, Wiens said he has no personal agenda or conflicts of interest. He said he'd like to bring community organizations together to share ideas and bring more industry to town, thus increasing the city's tax base.
“I'm concerned we've lost some pride in our city,” he said. “I'd like to see people take more pride in McPherson. Our boys' basketball team doesn't settle for second place. I won't settle for second place.”
Alkire said he wants to make McPherson a safe, pleasant place to live. He said housing projects currently underway will help the city keep up with the influx of workers.
“We want people who work in our factories to live in McPherson,” he said. “Many don't right now.”
An audience member asked if they thought McPherson should have five city commissioners, instead of the current three. Both men said they think three is appropriate for the city's current needs and that having a larger commission can lead to more disagreement, which can keep the commission from getting business done in a timely manner.
Another person asked if the city should pay for sidewalks for private entities, such as apartments. Alkire said the city has done so with one complex in the past, but that was because the city made a mistake and wanted to make it right.
Wiens said he doesn't want to set a precedent of the city paying for projects on private property.
Both men said the city should begin expanding east once space runs out in current city limits. They said this will allow businesses easier access to Interstate 135.