GRANGEVILLE Affordable housing and growth management, infrastructure and municipal services are several issues being raised by four candidates seeking the Grangeville mayor seat.
Seeking the four-year position are Wes Lester, Lance McColloch, Danny Tacket and John M. Viknius.
Candidates will be running for open city council positions in the Nov. 7 election. The Free Press solicited candidates for information on their campaigns, and the following are their edited responses.
“After 20 years as a councilman, I feel that this position requires someone who has a working knowledge of ongoing city issues,” said Wes Lester.
Issues facing the city, according to Lester, are ongoing wastewater treatment plant regulations, infrastructure concerns (city wells, streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters), and trying to both attract new business and keep existing businesses.
“I will work with the council and the appropriate agencies,” he said, “to find funding sources, ideas, and hopefully a solution.”
Lester was born and raised in Grangeville, is a fourth-generation farmer, and has also worked at the Blackmer Funeral Home for 15 years. At age 19, he was chairman for the Fenn Highway District for six years; Sunrise Lions Club treasurer for eight years and president for one; and he spent 19 years as a board member/secretary for Union Warehouse/Primeland. Prior to serving on the council, Lester was appointed by then-Mayor Terry Vanderwall to the Grangeville Planning and Zoning Commission.
“This community has been good to my family and me, and I am committed to giving back and helping it thrive,” said Lance McColloch.
For McColloch, young families help keep a community strong and vibrant; however, they have a difficult time staying in Grangeville to make a living.
“I want to help young families stay in the area by providing adequate jobs, housing, and educational and recreational opportunities,” he said. “Responsible, thoughtful growth is part of that vision. Helping existing businesses grow and flourish, while attracting other compatible businesses to the area, would help realize that vision. As a board member of the Affordable Housing Foundation, Inc. and board member of the Planning and Zoning Committee, City of Grangeville, I have insight and ideas for resolving some of our current housing issues that also affect employment opportunity.”
Maintaining the city’s aging underground infrastructure is a long-term issue requiring careful guidance and budgeting into the future, according to McColloch. Apart from that, one of his goals, as mayor would be promoting development of a new Border Days rodeo grounds.
“We have outgrown our existing facility and it is cramped with inadequate parking,” he said. “I have several ideas for funding and would welcome an opportunity to work with the community to make it happen.”
“I was raised in a small community and witnessed the repercussions of explosive growth in a short time period,” McColloch said. “I believe Grangeville could benefit from some responsible growth, but it must be thoughtfully considered and carefully planned.”
McColloch and his wife, Eve, own The Gym, along with several area rental properties. He started his work career at age 19 as head mechanic/supervisor for Bechtel Industries, and following that worked in the construction business for more than 20 years.
His community involvement includes Partners Inspiring Community Health, Kids Extreme Adventure Club, Grangeville Golf and Country Club, Grangeville Chamber of Commerce, and a supporter of the Grangeville Booster Club and spearhead the Youth – Punt, Kick and Pass. The McCollochs have two sons.
“I am running for mayor because I am thankful for all this city has provided me and my family. I was born here and have lived and worked in Grangeville all my life,” Daniel Tackett said. “I want to see Grangeville grow economically so young people chose to stay or return to Grangeville. I also want to have Grangeville retain the small rural town attributes which make the city so attractive to those of us who have chosen to live here.”
Tackett’s primary concern is economic viability for current businesses, and growing the economy to provide employment for young people. To be a healthy city, Grangeville needs new businesses to come in that will not disrupt current ones.
“Keeping the businesses we have viable while attracting new business ventures is a tough goal to attain,” he said. “Possible solutions might include large businesses such as Schweitzer Electronics establishing satellite production sites in our area. I would like to have small independently owned businesses startup, possibly using internet sales as a primary way to market products in addition to having a local customer base.”
Tackett supports strong city services — hospital, EMTs, fire and police, and schools – and retaining state and federal agencies in Grangeville, along with the employment they provide, rather than centralized in other locations. Of special interest is crime reduction, which he said may require increased funding for training or specialized equipment.
“I want our city police to feel they can do the work we want them to do,” Tackett said, “to reduce drug use and trafficking in our town.”
Tackett is a 1974 graduate of Grangeville High School with a vocational degree from Lewis-Clark State College. Since 2002, he has co-owned the family business, Tackett’s Saw Service with his sister, Tracy Sharp. He served 30 years on the Grangeville Volunteer Fire Department, 15 of which as assistant chief and then chief. He is a member of the Grangeville Elks Lodge, and has been involved in organizations including High Mountain Machine, Snowdrifters snowmobile club and the Knights of Columbus. He is married to wife, Terri (employed with the Idaho Department of Correction) and has four grown children from a prior marriage.
John M. Viknius
“I believe that I can best serve the community in many ways from enhancing the quality of services in the local government and schools in addition to keeping and creating more jobs. Community stability with manageable growth is my main concern,” said John Viknius. “I’m looking forward to creatively working with our present and newly elected council members.”
For Viknius, a present municipal issue is keeping the city tax base stable so fixed and mid-income residents can still afford to live comfortably maintaining their present lifestyle.
“Economically and politically, our country and community are entering uncharted waters,” he said. “For this and many other reasons, we’ll need insightful leadership that has your best interest at heart.”
A special project of interest for Viknius would be establishing a community center for young adults, providing for interaction and addressing their concerns, while being made aware of the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Keeping our resident families and young adults rooted in common sense knowledge makes way for tomorrow’s leaders,” he said.
Viknius is the founder and president of Tri Star Systems Inc. Tri Star provides strategic move, site decommissions and asset management services for fortune 500 company facilitators in real estate, asset and facilities management. He was born in Chicago, left at age 40 “to pursue a more fulfilling life style on my ranch in Montana” for eight years then spent 10 years in Oregon. He transitioned to Idaho County in 2015, and moved on to Grangeville in 2016. He is divorced with three adult sons.