Name: Gary Skaggs
Family: Wife of 50 years, Bette; 3 children; 8 grandchildren
Work/professional experience: 5 years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer, 40 years as owner/manager of Ace Hardware.
Political experience: 3 years on Pratt City Commission
Community involvement: Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Historical Museum, Boy Scouts, Episcopal Church
Why are you running for this office? I grew up in Pratt and have shared the business opportunities given to our family by our hometown and feel I should give back to the community and assist in its growth.
What do you believe are the top 3 priorities for the city in the next three years and your stance on each?
• Infastructure: We must maintain, improve and invest in the water mains, electrical grid, sewer system and parks. I strongly believe in providing city staff with the necessary up-to-date equipment and training. Two areas being planned for but not yet funded are (1) replacement of Main Street sections that are still brick. Hopefully, state funding assistance will be available in the near future; (2) An area of my special interest is the Municipal Building, one of Pratt's biggest assets but needs to be upgraded into the 21st century.
• Economic development: With the possibility of rapid expansion of the oil, gas and wind energy industries and with Pratt ideally located to be a central base of operations, the city must be proactive in preparing for the needs of companies and their employees, should they expand into our community.
The city has already developed industrial parks in several areas and are now providing utilities to the new Withers development. In addition, we should provide residential growth opportunities for both temporary and housing that doesn't conflict with existing structures. This should include housing for all levels of income for controlled growth to protect property values.
• Main Street business district: While Pratt has been fortunate to have a viable, filled and good-looking Main Street section for the last 50 years, it is starting to show signs of decay and decline. This is due in large part to the rise of large corporate chain stores, which need more room and find it at the edge of town.
Small towns are recognized by the uniqueness of their original core downtown shopping districts. I believe there is still room in the market place for the smaller independent merchants who can meet the challenge of owning their own business. City government should foster a climate that will help maintain and attract new occupants to the business district.