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September 03, 2008 12:52 pm

Young challenges Senn for Ward 2 seat

Written by Tribune Staff

Incumbent trailed in the primary
Incumbent city councilman Mark Senn will try to hang onto his Ward 2 seat in the general election, despite a strong showing by Floyd Young in the primary.
Senn, who is studying at Montana State University, Billings, to be a teacher, captured just 28 percent of the primary vote. Young, an assistant professor of physical education at Northwest College, was favored by 72 percent of the voters.
Young said he's running because, “It's got to do with the candidate I'm running against. He votes the opposite of how I'd vote. We vary greatly on (the pool issue).”
He said Senn has voted against several components of the pool, and he recently voted in favor of an affordable housing development on the west end of Powell, in spite of opposition from his constituents.
“He didn't listen,” Young said.
Senn, however, said he “thinks (the pool) is doing really well. I'm still a little uneasy about the amount it's over-bid, but I'm starting to feel better about it.”
“The main thing is, with the bid being 15 percent over, the city doesn't have the money without cutting funding for streets, parks — no one has said where the money will come from. Do we have to lay someone off?” he asked.
In terms of keeping the downtown area alive and flourishing, Senn recommended keeping The Commons and Plaza Diane available, “so people can have events downtown.”
He said he believes downtown events serve to revive dying areas.
“That's what's bringing Billings' (downtown) back,” he added.
Young said it's crucial to keep the “downtown area beautified” and to not move things “purposely out of town.”
“The pool could have been in Veteran's Park. That would have helped,” Young added. “We need to encourage businesses to stay here.”
Both candidates said, depending on the project, they would support another capital facilities tax when the current tax expires.
“There are several projects people have talked about that I think are good issues — a dry side on the pool, Centennial Park may be something good to add,” said Senn.
Young said, “None of us like taxes. With a 1-cent sales tax, I didn't feel the pinch, but I'd like to put it to the voters.”
“I”m very much in favor of a dry-land facility, with track, racquetball, etc., close to where the pool is,” Young added.
However, he said he's afraid it would cost too much to fix up the old high school.
According to Young, “It would be better to raise money and build a new, state-of-the-art facility.”
He is also concerned that the golf course is getting too expensive.
“It's out of reach for a lot of people,” Young added.
Senn said the biggest thing he has to offer the residents of Ward 2 is his experience.
“Four years ago (after the last election), I was kind of shell shocked. There is a huge learningcurve,” he said, “But I learned, I know how to observe things in other communities, what they're doing, to see if it can be applied here.
“I think we've accomplished a lot (during the last four years), the city is doing really well. We need to get the pool finished, we're working on fiber now, which is great,” he said. “Those things will bring in new jobs and keep younger people in Powell. The biggest challenge we'll have in the next few years is to keep the downtown going, to continue with street projects. We need to keep up with expansion because Powell will continue to grow.”
According to Young, the biggest hurdle faced by the city is, “How do we keep our kids at home? All my kids live somewhere else, not even in this state. What do we do to attract them, what kind of businesses do we have? A big challenge is keeping the downtown viable. We could become an old person's community, but I want to attract young people. They're the life of things, what makes (a community) go.”