Arthur voters have choices for village president, board

ARTHUR — Arthur voters will have several choices to make when they head to the polls on April 9.

Incumbent Village President Matt Bernius is being challenged by former Douglas County Democratic Party Chairman Rob Fustin.

Meanwhile, five candidates are running for three seats on the Arthur village board.

Bernius, a regional sales manager for Kubota Tractor Corporation, has been village president for 2 1/2 years. He had been on the village board since January 2002.

"I am working with a great board," Bernius said. "We have made good progress during my time as village president, and I want to keep that progress going."

Bernius said his top goal is to consider establishing a tax increment financing district to pay for infrastructure projects.

"I support the proposed district as long as it is legally in a TIF-eligible location," he said. "We have to find a way to get money for infrastructure, and TIF is one way to do it.

"We have new tenants going to an old industrial park. The tenants will require sewer and water services, and our general fund alone won't pay for it."

Fustin, a retired Caterpillar employee, said this is the first time he has sought the village president position.

"I decided to run because I like to stay involved," Fustin said. "I have nothing against the present mayor, and he has done a good job. But he can't be in town 100 percent of the time, and I believe Arthur needs a full-time mayor."

Fustin said he favors creating a tax increment financing district as long as its boundaries include the former Progress manufacturing plant site.

"We also want to boost tourism and keep the community growing," he said.

The race for the Arthur Village Board features James Aikman, Becky Bernardi, Terry Clark, Iris Dicks and Karen Good.

Aikman, a loan officer at the State Bank of Arthur, is seeking a seat on the village board for the first time.

"I have served as the president of the Arthur Area Association of Commerce for two years, and I thought the next step I could take to help out our community would be to run for the village board," he said.

Aikman said he wants to boost tourism in Arthur and help the village's businesses to grow.

"We need to realize that tourism plays a big role in the community of Arthur," Aikman said. "We need to do what we can to help our businesses to thrive and grow. The village can help facilitate the thousands of visitors who come to our town each year."

Bernardi, who is self-employed, is also running for the first time.

"I wanted more involvement with the community and with town issues," she said.

Bernardi said her priorities would be to support the Arthur school district and to provide staffing at the Arthur Visitor Center.

"I'd like to see us keep having a strong school district, and I'd like to see our visitor center fully staffed," she said. "It is currently staffed by volunteers, and I'd like to see the village board find money in the budget to staff people again at the visitor center."

Clark, manager of Delbert's Clothing in Arthur, is seeking his second term on the board.

"We have a lot of positive things happening in Arthur, and I want to continue to be part of those positive things," he said.

Clark said he wants to build a strong tax base by taking a look at sales taxes and property taxes.

"Our biggest issue is funding," he said. "We need money to update the residential sewer lines and water infrastructure, and our streets need maintenance and updating.

"I'd also like us to find dollars to allocate toward community events and activities."

Dicks, who is seeking her second term on the village board, is retired following a career helping out her husband at Dicks Pharmacy.

"I'm running because we need to work on improving the water lines and sewer infrastructure," she said. "The money isn't there, but we keep plugging away."

Dicks said she supports creating a tax increment financing district.

"I think it is a necessary thing because it will give us money to work on the sewers, the water and the streets," she said.

Good, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell, has served on the board for four years.

"I enjoy the challenges of what we have done so far as a village board, and I am anxious to continue what we started," she said.

Good said her priorities are to balance the village budget and improve Arthur's infrastructure.

"I would support establishing a TIF district because I think it would give us an opportunity to bring some new businesses into the town," Good said.

Sections (2):News, Local
Location (3):Local, Douglas County, Arthur

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