Candidates for Thorndale city council take part in forum

Candidates for Thorndale Mayor and City Council took part in a Candidate Forum sponsored by the Thorndale Area Chamber of Commerce on April 11. Pictured from left are Thorndale Mayor Allen Hejl, mayoral candidate George Galbreath, mayoral candidate Ryan Davenport, MC Peggy Weise, City Councilman Larry Drabek and city council candidate Charles Barnhill.

Candidates for Thorndale mayor and city council took part in a Candidate Forum sponsored by the Thorndale Area Chamber of Commerce on April 11 citing communication between the city and residents and water issues as the major concerns the city faces in the coming years.

Mayoral candidates Ryan Davenport, George Galbreath and incubent Mayor Allen Hejl and city council candidates Charles Barnhill and incumbent City Councilman Larry Drabek participated. Stephanie Churchman is also running for re-election to her City Council position but did not attend the forum.

Davenport, a lifelong Thorndale resident, said he wants to see Thorndale thrive and said he would host Town Hall meetings at businesses around town as mayor. He said that the issues facing the city with water and wastewater and the cities coming growth will be issues upcoming. 

“We will see growth in the future,” he said. “I think it is time for us to be proactive, so we don’t have to be reactive when the time comes.”

Hejl, who has served two terms on the Thorndale City Council serving as mayor for the last term, said he set out goals a few years ago to work on reinvigorating downtown, getting EMS service to Thorndale, water and downtown streets. 

“The EMS issue is a difficult situation for us,” he said. “Response time from Rockdale is 14 minutes. The city is working on this.”

He said the city has paid for EMS training and credited Police Chief Martin Jackson with being proactive and helping out.

Galbreath has lived in Thorndale for 21 years and previously served two terms on city council.

“I think we can get things moving a little smoother on some things and that we need to move in a different direction,” Galbreath said. “We need for people to be able to come and talk.

Barnhill has lived in Thorndale for two and a half years and said he has a different sense of Thorndale as an outsider.

He said his major pointed will be to get out and meet people and work on having something that will inform the citizens of what is going on at meetings.

Drabek is running for his second term and feels a strong obligation to continue moving the city in the right direction.

“I think having citizen’s input is very important,” he said. “Please bring stuff to our attention and please go out and vote. One vote means a lot in an election this size.”

Candidates were asked to by the Chamber to answer the question: “What do you see as the biggest challenge facing you as mayor or councilman and what would you solution be?

Davenport said the biggest challenge is the budget and where money will come from and be spent.

He said the city needs to take a hard line and look at priorities and what is the best course for the community. 

Barnhill said that he would implement something to make it easier for community members that attend council meeting to follow along with what is going on and that he would go around and meet people.

Hejl discussed the EMS situation and spoke on the work that has gone on downtown while he has been in office. He also said that taxes have been lowered for the last two years.

Galbreath said money is the main issue because you have limited funds to accomplish anything. He said the city needs to work on finishing the T-ball fields that were started years back. 

“There is so much going on at one time,” he said. “We need to step back and focus on fixing one thing at a time. We have done a lot to focus on bringing new business to town and that needs to continue.”

He also said that fixing water issues and the EMS are other issues.

Drabek said money is the big issue and he hopes to get a website set up for the city that will help attract new people and business to Thorndale. 

The next question was: What changes would you like to see in Thorndale?

Davenport said that he would like to see a website or Facebook page that is accurate and updated.

Barnhill said he desires that meetings be held somewhere with more seating for the public.

Hejl said communication has been brought up. He said his door is always open to try to work things out. He would also like to see downtown get back to the way it was in the 60s.

Galbreath said he would that he would get the finances figured out and work on fixing the EMS situation.

Drabek said that getting input from the community is important and that there are a lot of smart people in Thorndale and the city needs to encourage that input.