Oct 19, 2023
By: Katherine Trowbridge
Connell City Council Position 6 has been held by incumbent, Shelly Harper.
Harper faces opponent, David Dixon in the general election. As there were only two candidates, they were not on the primary ballot. Dixon stated he has no issues with anyone on the council and holds high regard for Harper. He felt it was everyone’s civic duty to serve.
Shelly Harper (incumbent) shared that she chose to run, again, for city council because “There’s a lot of work to do and I hate to leave things unfinished.”
How will / do you represent the voters? “I listen to people when they come and talk to me and take everyone’s feeling, thoughts into consideration when voting.”
Will / do you ask the hard questions? “Yes. I brought things up that nobody's even thought about before like, the whole mileage thing and driving the city vehicles to and from work. I tried to get that taken away from certain people, that didn't work in the end. Not like I’m gonna try that again. But I will ask hard questions.”
She added, “I think the council has had a bad rap for a long time because you hear about oh, the council said no or let this business come in under that business. And it's all the council stalled because the town doesn't grow. Well, technically, it has nothing to do with council. We don't vote on things like that. Like, should we let this grocery store come to town? We don't get to vote. on that. That's not a thing we vote on.”
What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the city? “The look of the town has gone downhill and improvements need to be made - weeds, abandoned buildings, graffiti.” She shared that she is working on getting a graffiti ordinance passed and a media policy for staff. She’s also researching long term hotel room use. Another issue she expressed was trying to get certain employees to keep and understand the small town politics when they don’t live in a small town.
Harper added, “We’ve got to get our city working together. Our employees, our elected officials need to all be on the same page and work with each other and keep our small town values and feel.”
Harper has lived in the community for over 40 years, raising her children here. She actively serves on the Greater Connell Area Chamber of Commerce as a board member, the N. Franklin Eagles Nest, Director of the N. Franklin Heritage Museum, serves the Grace United Methodist Church and Dream with Me PreSchool, is a PEO member, a commissioner on the Franklin County Cemetery District, and works at Nutrien Ag Solutions.
You can easily find her working on the C Street Vault, a historic restoration project at the former American Legion building downtown, or at the Museum.
Harper added, “Our previous generations worked so hard to give us the right to vote. Just take the time to fill out your balot and mail it in.”
David “Duey” Dixon shared that he had wanted to run for council last time but still had quite a bit of his career left, now he is on the short end and looking to retire in the future so he feels it’s “the right time to do my part as well. I feel that it was kind of my turn to contribute.” With the meetings changed to Wednesdays for council, it also made the decision to do his part easier, as that is his best day to be able to contribute.
Dixon added, “And, you know, I'm a very organized person. So, I will make decisions based on preparation. And reading and research and so on and not just on a whim, what I think is gonna be best for the city.”
How will you represent the voters? “I will listen to the voters, but I will make my decisions based on what I believe, based on research, and what is going to be best for everybody and not a small group.”
Dixon served as the union president for the local teachers union for over 14 years and said, “So I got a lot of practice of being the leader there and dealing with just people sometimes.”
In regards to current issues within the city he shared, “And we have some pretty big issues going on right now. Obviously I'm aware of those because I'm involved. I'm letting my boss deal with it. I told Jacobs, "You just tell me what I need to do when it comes down to, you know, it's wrestling season and we end up moving.””
Will you ask the hard questions? Dixon said he felt he could, adding, “You also have to be prepared to ask those hard questions. You have to have the background information to ask the question. Because like, when are we going to negotiate with the district, I have all the information, I have more information than they probably had. And so that way, you have to be prepared so that when you ask the question, when they come back with an answer, you could say well you know what, that's not what it says here. And that's the type of person I am. I will not, don't try, to do anything that will embarrass myself. So I am over prepared, so that I don't get caught underhand.”
What do you feel are the biggest issues facing the city? “We need to encourage more business to come in here. I have a daughter who’s 20 years old and there’s not a lot of opportunities for her to get work for jobs…There’s nothing here in town for her to do, you know. There’s just only so much opportunity. We need to encourage, somehow, more businesses to come here. Yeah, unless you’re a corporation or chain or something like that…”
Dixon also felt a big issue was the roads in town and stated they need to be redone. It seemed that main street had been repaired not too long ago and it's already pretty rough. Dixon stated he wasn’t sure what grants would be available for that or how much power on the city council he would have to effect that change but that as an issue he felt was important.
He added, “So I guess that's really kind of where I'm at. Focusing on providing more opportunities for people. It'd be nice to provide more opportunities for kids to do things. That's, you know, there's not a whole lot there. There's a pool, I do like when they started the free pool. That's awesome. And those types of things for even adults, I'd like to see more stuff. See more recreation around for people.” Dixon, himself, started a cornhole league and shared his heart to see more activities for both youth and adults within the community to get people out of their homes and into the community and businesses in town. He also addressed concerns with businesses, like the bowling alley, that got too run down to operate.
Dixon moved to Connell, out of college, with his wife Missy. He taught drivers ed and moved into the role of teaching US History. He has also taught college in the classroom and now serves as the North Franklin School District’s Athletic Director. He has served the NFSD for — years. For 25 years he has spent his summers driving for wheat harvest in the area. His wife works for Community First Bank.
Dixon added, “There are some tough issues and some things going on… You’re gonna have people that disagree with you and people who love you. It’s part of being a public servant. You can’t please all the people all the time,” saying he will do the research to find the information he needs to make the best decision. .