Adams, Davies seek NW Ward office

Adams, Davies seek NW Ward office by David Lias Voters residing in Vermillion's Northwest Ward will choose between Nathan J. Adams and Tom Davies in the April 8 city election.

Incumbent Northwest Ward alderman Joe Grause is not seeking re-election.

Nathan J. Adams

Adams, 26, is single. He is the son of Scott and Renee Adams, Elk Point.

He is occupied in sales. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from The University of South Dakota. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis.

Adams said he is seeking election the city council to help bring more job opportunities to Vermillion.

"The job market in Vermillion is horribly tight. Our town has a great location," he said. "The university provides a sizable number of ready laborers. I plan to work with the council so that we can attract new business into Vermillion."

Adams said he has yet to form an opinion on the idea of a new city hall in Vermillion.

"I, personally, have no opinion of the issue. I will fully support the opinion of the people and officials that work in and use the building regularly," he said. "If they say we need a new hall, we will get one."

Should Vermillion proceed with a new city hall project, Adams believes the the freshly opened area across from Choice and Davis pharmacies could have potential as a site for the building.

Adams supports the city's plan to improve Chestnut Street.

"It needs to be done. I don't want to be counted as one of the opposers that are waiting until a little kid gets splattered by a truck while playing at his school," he said.

Adams supports efforts by Vermillion to clean up unsightly areas with more thorough code enforcement.

"There is nothing like a notice from the city to spur a person to action. I'm sure that most of us want a clean and safe community to be proud of," he said. "If you don't, just know that I don't support a second warning, nor do I condone unnecessary problems to persist."

Thomas L. (Tom) Davies

Davies, 44, and his wife, Karen, are the parents of two children, Lindsey, a 10th-grader, and Daniel, who is in sixth grade.

Davies has been an an accounting professor at the USD School of Business for the past 16 years. Prior to teaching, he worked as a CPA in the tax department of a large accounting firm in Des Moines, IA.

He holds degrees from both the USD business and law schools, as well as a degree in taxation from the University of Missouri � Kansas City School of Law.

Davies is a sports and fitness enthusiast who enjoys

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rock and coin collecting and travel.

"My wife and I returned to Vermillion 16 years ago after the birth of our first child because of what the town had to offer � a safe, friendly environment with a quality public school system," he said. "Vermillion is still a great place to

raise a family. I hope to use my education and business experience to help keep Vermillion a vibrant town. I also view serving on the city council as a way to give back something to the community that has treated my family so well."

Economic growth is a major challenge facing the city, he said.

"We must attract new businesses and light industry, as well as extend our retail customer base, so that our tax base can be expanded," Davies said. "Vermillion has a considerable amount of property that is exempt from property taxation due to the presence of the university, which places a greater tax burden on property owners."

New businesses mean new jobs for those wishing to locate or stay in the area, expanded markets for existing businesses, and an improved quality of life for our citizens, he said.

"We must convince more consumers to buy locally, as well as take advantage of the new bridge and our proximity to the I-29 corridor. But as the city undertakes projects to improve its infrastructure in order to encourage more economic development, local taxing units must be mindful of the burden being imposed on taxpayers," Davies said.

At the same time, Vermillion's local public school system is faced with a substantial budget shortfall, he said.

"The academic, artistic, and athletic achievements of the students are remarkable. Vermillion residents are genuinely committed to giving our children an outstanding education. We must continue to be supportive of the school's efforts to generate revenue and decrease expenses so that the high quality of elementary and secondary education can be maintained," Davies said. "Extremely difficult decisions loom if additional resources can't be found."

Vermillion must also continue to work on improving its public image, he said.

"While residents know that our town has much to offer, we must do a better job of 'selling' ourselves to those outside of the immediate area. Programs such as Vermillion Beautiful that improve the aesthetics of the town are working and should be expanded,"Davies said. "Hopefully the city can also take advantage of the Lewis and Clark Expedition bicentennial to draw positive attention to the region and attract tourist dollars."

He notes that Vermillion City Hall doesn't comply with the federal American Disabilities Act.

"The lack of wheelchair accessibility and elevators may prevent some residents from having a say in local government affairs. However, given that the cost of the various building proposals all exceed $2 million, I am in favor of studying the need for the project further," Davies said. "The city should identify other necessary capital improvement projects at the same time, and prioritize all of them using a cost-benefit analysis while keeping our pressing economic development needs in mind."

He said the city must balance its spending decisions with the need to be fiscally responsible and responsive to taxpayers. Davies believes city officials should continue to aggressively seek external funds such as federal and state grants where possible.

"If further analysis suggests that upgrading city hall is a top priority, I would be in favor of building a new structure downtown. Remodeling the existing building isn't expected to result in any substantial cost savings," he said. "There is a definite need for a satellite fire station in the southeast part of town for insurance purposes, and a joint city and fire hall might ultimately result in some minimal cost savings. However, in my opinion, a flourishing downtown would best serve the interests of the entire community, and a strategically located city hall would enhance the area."

Because of its unsafe condition, Davies supports repair of Chestnut Street.

"There is legitimate concern over the high cost of the project, although a significant portion is being covered by a federal grant. Much of the expense relates to the need for the south retaining wall, which is necessary to make the road wide enough to comply with state and federal standards for truck routes," he said.

The city council has thoroughly studied the various construction alternatives, Davies said, but given the cost and nature of the project, it is sensible to let Vermillion residents have the final say whether to proceed.

"I am in favor of the project due to safety concerns and the need to keep heavy trucks from taking alternative routes through town," he said.

Davies noted that it was recently reported that the city has hired a second code enforcement officer to help address code violations.

"The majority of residents takes pride in the appearance of their own property, and understands the value of a well-maintained community. I support the present effort to clean up Vermillion and to alleviate dangerous conditions," he said. "However, it would be prudent for city officials to review pertinent sections of the municipal code to make sure that the regulations are furthering the legitimate interests and needs of the city."

He commends local citizens, businesses, and the USD football team for their involvement with and support of Operation Pride, a project that assists with cleaning up residential areas.

"Consideration should also be given to expanding free usage of the landfill and making better use of the recycling center," Davies said.

If elected, he said his main goals will be to encourage fiscally responsible progress for the city of Vermillion, and to represent the interests of Northwest Ward residents

"I urge all Vermillion residents to vote on April 8. During these uncertain and tumultuous times, it is especially important to remember that living in a democracy requires that we all do our part to keep our community and country strong," Davies said. "Everyone's vote can make a difference."

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