Gau challenges Hardy for Sunset Hills Ward 1 seat

Gau, Hardy seeking election to Ward 1 seat in Sunset Hills

By Mike Anthony

Richard Gau is challenging incumbent Frank Hardy for the Sunset Hills Ward 1 Board of Aldermen seat in the Tuesday, April 3, election.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the candidates responded:

• Gau said he wants “to step up and get involved.”

• Hardy said, “I believe the most important issue in any good relationship is to have open, honest and frequent communications. I would want to have that between the city officials and the residents and businesses of Sunset Hills. This is the foundation for a thriving community.

“I am a businessman and a resident of this community, so I understand both perspectives. By having community input on any particular subject, it is only then that I can effectively represent my ward. I want to work with and for all the residents and businesses of my ward and all of Sunset Hills …”

Gau, 46, 13019 Tapawingo Place, 63127, is president and CEO of John Henry Foster. He and his wife, Julie, have a 4-year-old daughter.

Gau, who has not held elective office, said he was seeking election because “today, more than ever, we need people who are willing to step up and provide solutions, not just sit back and be critical of the situation. By stepping up (and) running for local office, in some small way, I want to help provide those solutions to help make a difference …”

Hardy, 64, 421 Rayburn Ave., 63127, is an Internet consultant for I-Site Creations Inc. He and his wife, Phillis, have a grown son.

Hardy, who first was elected to the Board of Aldermen in 2006, said he is seeking re-election “to give a true voice to the people of Sunset Hills’ Ward 1. To have honest, open and frequent communications with all of the residents and businesses that I represent. To make Sunset Hills a better place in which to live and work.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

• Do you agree with the direction the city is moving under Mayor Bill Nolan?

Gau said, “I applaud Bill for wanting to serve the residents of Sunset Hills. It is a thankless job, and Bill is doing a great job.”

Hardy said, “Mayor Nolan has only been in the mayoral office since 2010, so that is not a very long time in office in which to judge a man’s leadership. There was some carryover of practices and programs from previous administrations of Sunset Hills. Therefore, not all the good nor all of the not-so-good can be laid in Mayor Nolan’s lap.

“The one area I think Mayor Nolan lacks in is in the area of open and honest communications with all of the residents and businesses in Sunset Hills and with other city officials. The mayor needs to learn to listen better to all of his constituents. The mayor serves all the populace of Sunset Hills whether they voted for him or not … I know that the mayor has been a small-business owner for 25-plus years and as the owner of that small business, he has the ultimate say so about the operations of that business.

“He brings that leadership quality to the city of Sunset Hills, however, government at any level does not operate under the small-business model. Government operates as a team, working together with open communications on all sides and possible differences of opinions on various issues …”

• Do you agree with the Board of Aldermen’s decision to reject placing on the April 3 ballot a proposition seeking the permanent extension of the city’s existing half-cent, capital improvement sales tax?

Gau said, “Only the voters can approve the tax extension. The residents of Sunset Hills should be allowed to vote on this issue.”

Hardy said, “First of all, let me clear something up in this question. The Board of Aldermen did not reject placing this issue on the April 3 ballot. The Board of Aldermen chose not to ‘suspend the rules,’ which would allow two readings of a bill at one meeting … I was ill for the December 2011 Board of Aldermen meeting, so I did not hear the Revenue Review Committee chairman’s presentation nor was I able to ask him any questions during that meeting. That is only the second Board of Aldermen meeting that I have had to miss in my six years of service, both times because of illness. From those that were there and had information presented to them, they, and consequentially I, had a number of questions about the information presented.

“As has been published, (Ward 2) Alderman (Thomas) Hrastich, the Finance Committee chairman, did not feel that a complete study was done by the Revenue Review Committee and the information presented to the Board of Aldermen in December was lacking in its completeness … I, as a Board of Aldermen member and as a usual practice for me on any issue, I wanted to do my due diligence on this issue so that I could answer those questions that I would be asked about this, and so that I would be sending a more concrete and complete proposal to the general public for their consideration and vote.”

• What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing and other tax tools?

Gau said, “TIFs do have a place and can work, but should not be used to benefit developers.”

Hardy said, “When tax-increment financing is used for its original intent and under its original restrictions, then I think it can be used well as a revitalizing tool for a community. TIF, and other taxing tools like TDD (Transportation Development District) and CID (Community Improvement District), should be scrutinized carefully and cautiously to make sure that they are used properly.

“In recent years, however, I feel that tax-increment financing has been abused from that original purpose and has become a tool in which many cities are vying for tax dollars. City improvements, both business and residential, are fine, but not at the expense of people’s rights and not at the abuse of these development tools.”

• Do you support the use of eminent domain for redevelopment projects?

Gau said, “Only in very limited situations, and only for the common good/public uses.”

Hardy said, “Eminent domain was intended to be used for property acquisition for the purpose of public use, like schools or roads, and with just compensation to the property owner for his property. I would only allow the use of eminent domain for truly public purposes and even then only on a very restricted basis and (as) a last resort. I would not allow the use of eminent domain for taking a person’s private property and giving it to another person for their own profit.

“The taking of private property for economic development was never the intended use of such a tool. A person’s right to have and to hold property is a right that must be respected and protected in Sunset Hills.”