The candidates for the City of Tarkio Northward and Southward Aldermen gathered for a debate on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in the Rotary Theatre in Tarkio. Pictured are North Ward Alderman candidates Tim Morehouse and Jeff Olson and South Ward Alderman candidates Daryl Wiley and Scott Walker.

Candidates for City of Tarkio Board of Aldermen participated in a debate Tuesday evening, March 7, 2023, at the Rotary Theatre on the Tarkio Tech Campus. This event was hosted by Tarkio citizens who wanted the public to have a chance to listen to the views of the candidates and then make an informed decision before casting their votes in the April election. Tarkio Tech President Johnnie Davis emceed the event.

Candidates include: North Ward Alderman (voting for one) – Scott Walker and Daryl Wiley; and South Ward Alderman (voting for one) – Tim Morehouse and Jeff Olson. The men were asked a series of questions pertaining to the city’s budget, how they plan to involve the residents in the decision making processes, what they feel needs to be the focus of the council and city improvement, views on and enforcement of city ordinances, thoughts and concerns about marijuana dispensaries opening locally, etc.

All four men have managed or been involved in running organizations and/or businesses. Three of the men – Tim Morehouse, Jeff Olson, and Daryl Wiley are Tarkio High School graduates who returned to Tarkio after years living elsewhere. Scott Walker is not a native, but has lived here for 18 years. Tim Morehouse spent years as Tarkio’s Mayor. Jeff Olson is on the Tarkio Parks & Recreation Board, and Scott Walker helps coach the youth swim team. All voiced their concerns about keeping the business infrastructure Tarkio already has going strong as the city has steadily declined over the past several decades. They were realistic about how hard it is to bring new business to the community and not making promises that can’t be kept. Morehouse feels that the budget needs to be worked on and that there are important issues that need to be addressed and taken care of first before some of the other less urgent things are completed; such as buying a new fire truck to replace the one that is over 30 years old. Olson discussed the Parks Department improvements and continuing to build on their work, as well as keeping lines open with the citizens and their concerns. Wiley spoke about helping to revitalize Main Street and providing store fronts for those who wish to bring their home businesses to the heart of town. Walker discussed keeping the existing Main Street businesses going, as even now businesses are closing, such as the restaurant. He also talked about the need to work on fixing drainage issues along city streets so that the money invested in repairing and replacing them does not go to waste due to lack of proper drainage that erodes them in just a few years’ time. All of the candidates discussed Tarkio’s ordinances and how extremely vague they are and how even Tarkio’s current aldermen give different answers to questions asked about the same ordinance. They also discussed the issue of enforcing the ordinances as written, as they are not written well; discussed how some ordinances are enforced, but others aren’t; and whether police involvement is really necessary in enforcing some ordinances (such as tall grass) and instead letting the aldermen be mediators in getting the problems resolved. All agreed that the aldermen elected understand that this is a community service and lots of time must be spent talking to the residents outside of meeting times.

Following the answers of the prepared questions, the meeting was opened to questions from attendees. Questions were asked about the candidates’ views on the city’s animal control policies and what they would like to see brought to the city’s infrastructure.

At the end, all candidates thanked everyone for coming, Tarkio Tech for providing the space for the debate, and for the citizens giving them this opportunity to discuss their views.