Lenger faces board challenge from McGarrah

Ray Scherer

An incumbent member of the Hermann Board of Alderman wants to retain her seat to continue advancements for the city, while a challenger wants to see changes made to promote civic growth.


Susan Lenger is the incumbent Ward One member who is seeking a second two-year term on the board. She was raised in McKittrick and has lived most of her life in Hermann. She has worked for 15 years in occupational therapy at Hermann Area District Hospital.


She points to community involvement as an asset in her re-election bid. That list includes membership on the park board for nine years and organizing Park Pride. She has worked with bed-and-breakfasts and guesthouses alike in the past. She is a promoter of health and wellness initiatives at the hospital and has a passion for the parks -- which she wants maintained -- and the outdoors.


Lenger counts the city's introduction of Callabyte as a plus for Hermann residents.


"It wasn't my baby, but I helped it," she said.


A new cell tower and street improvements are also included as improvements she assisted with in the first term.


"I know our streets are bad," Lenger admitted, while acknowledging ongoing projects. "We need to keep our utilities strong."


Hermann could use some industrial development, she added, but must be a business that is compatible with the city. She eyes the potential for the city somehow tapping into the current construction of the Love's Travel Stop complex at New Florence. The city needs to lure jobs and concentrate on fostering new apartments and other forms of affordable housing.


"That has to be a group effort," she said of those goals. "That's a bigger," she said of jobs.


A new boutique and an art gallery are good examples of strengthening Hermann's retail base, according to Lenger. Building on the strength of the arts is a community asset that should be utilized.


"I want to see our economy back," she said of her vision for Hermann one year from now.


School enrollment should grow, she continued, and so does Hermann's population.


"That's a tough thing to do around here," Lenger said. "I'd like to see more telecommuting."


Local tourism should focus on the city's culture and the arts, and draw input from a variety of residents. She praised the work of Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melissa Lensing and Tourism Director Tammy Bruckerhoff.


"They're trying to pull things together," she said of the pair's efforts.


Having an open-door policy for residents who want to communicate concerns is termed a key trait by Lenger.


All groups must be contacted and be included in the efforts to improve Hermann, she said.


McGarrah grew up in a small town and said he was fortunate to have his father's help in starting a business while in high school. He attended the University of Missouri and received a degree in accounting, with a minor in economics. He's lived in other small towns in Missouri and Iowa, and has lived in Hermann for 14 years.


He called his ability to partner with all stripes of political belief in projects as an asset in the campaign, seeking out agreement no matter the situation.


"I prefer competence over political opinions," McGarrah said.


He has a dislike of government waste and mismanagement, but says he has a sole purpose for seeking a seat on the board.


"I'm willing to try to help the town," he said.


If elected, he would encourage the regional economic development director to maintain an office at city hall to aid in the efforts to procure more manufacturing for Hermann, including business start-ups. The federal government's programs work with defense contracts is one example of how the community might be able to grow its industry, according to McGarrah.


As manager of Hermann Family Drugstore, he realizes "retail's a tough game." He encourages shopping local for manner of goods.


"You're helping your neighbor," said McGarrah.


He sees Hermann's population as an issue that needs work in order for the city to prosper. He wants to seek lower utility rates and is open to a consideration of outside maintenance and also outside management. Slashing the electric service fee in half would help residents. He favors more responsiveness and accountability to taxpayers.


McGarrah said he prefers a diverse economy for Hermann, and not one that depends on tourism alone.


"That's the only thing we've had," he said, adding he'd like to see better cooperation between the city and chamber. "We need to have more than just tourism for economic growth….I don't think our town can afford to keep shrinking."


Tourism spending shouldn't be done as a way to "throw money at a problem," he said, noting he would like to see someone given the responsibility of monitoring Hermann's billboards.