Three speak at city council forum | Local News

John Grinvalds Editor of the Daily Sun

The three candidates for Beatrice City Council, Ward 3, attended a public forum on Thursday evening.

Hosted by the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Krista Wiedel, the forum started at 6:45 p.m. and lasted half an hour.

Paul Fanning, Mike McLain and Caleb Sabatka gave presentations and summaries and answered questions related to their experience and view of Beatrice.

Fanning moved to Beatrice in 2018 and works as a police officer with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department. Previously, he served as a pastor in Wisconsin. He said he started paying attention to local politics during the COIVD-19 pandemic.

“The restrictions that have been put in place strike me as a great example of government overreach and micromanaging our lives,” he said. “…I’m running for city council because I want to stop the local government from over-regulating and meddling in things that aren’t government business.”

Fanning stressed the importance of reducing the size of government and said Beatrice should reduce regulation to support business in the community.

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“We don’t need the government watching us and telling us how to do it,” he said. “That’s what I like living in Béatrice… The best government is the one that governs the least. The founding fathers of our country understood that the more government does, the less free we are.

McLain is currently Chairman of the City Council and Regional Director of Farmers Cooperative. McLain said he is passionate about downtown revitalization, something he has spent time on even away from Council business.

“We have restored our home and many other downtown buildings over the past 16 years of living here,” he said. “In doing so, I found a new commitment to help Beatrice thrive.”

McLain said he gained significant experience from his time on city council. He said he will use this experience to continue on the path of the city.

“I have learned a lot about Council and the City over the past three years,” he said. “…While we have been on Council for the past three years, we have added the new fire station, playground and ball court improvements, kayak launch, new pit field for future water needs…but there are still things I would like to see done, especially cleaning up neglected and abandoned properties.

Sabatka, owner of Sabatka Home Improvements, said the city is spending wastefully and not doing enough to attract young people.

“We don’t have anything that really attracts younger generations like me to the city,” he said. “You want growth in the city, you have to have something to attract it.”

Sabatka said the city, by supporting new amenities like arcades, can generate revenue while attracting more families and young people into its orbit.

“We don’t think about the next generation,” he said. “…We can also plan for the next generation, not just everyone sitting in this room right now. But future generations to come.

The three candidates will present themselves in the ballot on May 10. Two will qualify for the November elections.

Melvin B. Baillie