General satisfaction about the condition and direction of our community, combined with a lack of compelling arguments to the contrary from three challengers, are the reasons The Journal editorial board today endorses the candidacies of incumbents Pete Groetken, Dan Moore and Alex Watters for City Council in Tuesday's election.
We aren't suggesting this is a city without challenges and this is a council above occasional criticisms. By and large, however, we believe Sioux City is moving in the right direction. Its council is a body of elected leaders with whom we agree far more often than we disagree.
When we look across our city, for examples, we see:
- Economic vitality, including commercial, retail and residential construction.
Merriam, Kan., based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Mo., based Triumph Foods earlier this year opened a $300 million pork plant on 250 acres of Sioux City's Bridgeport West Industrial Park. To begin, the plant will operate one shift and employ some 1,100 workers; the company hopes to add a second shift and almost double plant employment next year.
For the fourth time in the last five years, the Sioux City metro region this year ranks first in the nation for economic development activity in areas with populations between 50,000 and 200,000, according to Atlanta-based Site Selection magazine's annual ranking.
- A dynamic Reinvestment District Project.
Components include: An agriculture/recreation center at the former site of the John Morrell plant in the old stockyards area; redevelopment to residential and commercial use by Ho-Chunk Inc. of former industrial buildings in the 100 block of Virginia Street; construction of a downtown hotel and parking ramp we believe will boost the future of the Convention Center; and a $56 million renovation, announced by local businessman Lew Weinberg earlier this year, of the former Warrior Hotel building and Davidson Building in the 500 block of Sixth Street into a combination hotel and residential/commercial/retail complex.
- Evidence of improved quality of life, including the construction and discussion of trail connections, the construction of Cone Park and discussion of riverfront development.
One component essential to a local strategy for retention and attraction of residents, for meeting employment demands (the timing of our community's strengthened focus on quality of life couldn't be better because it coincides with efforts to address a local metro area shortage of skilled workers - both laborers and college-degree professionals) and for producing economic expansion is commitment, by both the public and private sectors, to quality of life.
- Downtown renaissance, reflecting expansion of cultural amenities, entertainment choices, and urban-living options, and creation of green spaces.
We don't give the City Council complete credit for all of this, of course, but we commend this council - including the three incumbents in the race for open seats this year - for vision and the establishment of a tone for progress, growth, prosperity and liveability through which all residents will benefit. Investment by the private sector in our community reflects confidence about the future.
Finally, we believe present council members, including the three incumbents in Tuesday's election, represent honest, open and receptive local government.
In our view, votes for Groetken, Moore and Watters are votes to keep our community on its present positive course.