Four candidates hopeful for GI City Council Ward 1 race
Four Grand Island residents are less than a day away from finding out if they're the candidates for the Grand Island City Council Ward One. Tuesday's primary election will narrow the four down to two who will be on the ballot in November. The spot they're running for is currently held by Jeremy Jones, who decided not to run again this year.
Patrick Birkle, Jack Sheard, Michelle Fitzke and Alan Pickrel are the candidates who will be on Tuesday's ballot. All come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for running.
For Jack Sheard, it's about giving back to a community that he loves.
"I just feel connected to the community and the community has given a lot to us over the years," he told Local4 News. "I look at running for City Council and maybe serving as the next thing I can do for my community."
Sheard currently works for Grand Island Public Schools and says education is just one of his priorities.
"I care about public safety," he said. "I care about being fiscally responsible. Of course, I care about education. Those types of things are what I care about the most."
For Michelle Fitzke, it's about continuing her role of helping Grand Island. She worked for Ward Five for fours years, but had to resign when she moved across town. Now she hopes to earn a spot back on the City Council in her new ward.
"I've always been a firm believer that Grand Island is a great community and I just want to represent it," Fitzke said.
She wants to keep the community great and make it more attractive to the younger generations. Public safety is another top concern for her.
"Public safety is one of my main things," she said. "Our fireman and police officers are at the top of my list and always will be and having a balanced budget."
Alan Pickrel is another candidate for the spot. He says having worked with both the city and county government, he has a good understanding of how everything works.
"I feel like I've done a lot to add to it," he said. "You know, zoning and building and just the general knowledge. I was on the school board, so tax dollars."
His biggest concern is transparency and keeping a balanced budget.
"Taxes are just out of line," he added. "You got to learn how to spend it as fiscally responsible as you can."
Fiscal responsibility is a top priority for candidate Patrick Birkel as well.
"My biggest thing would be to get us on a sound financing footing," Birkel said. "Really you've got to make a ton of little cuts to make progress and that's the type of thing they can expect to see from me."
Birkel is a delivery driver who's lived in Grand Island for six years. He says he just wants to make it a better place to live and work.
"I'm actually serious about cutting spending. I'm not just saying that so people will vote for me," he said. "That's actually what I want to do, I want to cut spending and make this a better business place by getting rid of all the crazy restrictions that we might have."
All of the candidates say their campaigns were thrown off a little by the COVID-19 outbreak. Many planned to canvas the neighborhood and get to know people in the area but unfortunately that did not happen.