City Government Q&A With Patrick Henderson
On Oct. 16, County 3 sent a standardized email to each city council candidate still in the race. Yesterday afternoon, Patrick Henderson sent in his answers. The prompts and replies are shared below in a Q&A format.
County 3: Mayor Roger Miller has often asked “Who is the CEO of the city?” Even though a city is significantly more complex than a company, the analogy might be useful in examining Sheridan’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Can you identify a few of these for Sheridan? What actions will you take to preserve the city’s strengths, improve upon its weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and navigate through threats?
Henderson: The combined answer to this question is that I am more than willing to work with the Mayor and council on solutions. Mayor Miller & the city council must “move on” to other high order issues that we can find agreement with. That’s what the community expects! I want to focus on the following:
- Maintain and improve the beauty and character of our community. Enhance the quality of life (includes safety) for our residents.
- JOBS, Jobs, jobs. Educate the workforce (through efforts with Sheridan College) for good paying jobs!
- Workforce housing, Senior Citizen housing and accessible Child Care.
- Work in Economic Development – EMIT, RAMACO, VacuTech, Weatherby, Sheridan College, VA Hospital, health care employers. Help our community small business merchants also thrive!
- Have quality Air Service to the community.
- Improve & maintain the community infrastructure.
- Be fiscally conservative and responsible! Live within our financial means!
County 3: Fluoride has been a hot-button issue at several of the city council meetings. What is your stance on fluoride itself, and how do you think the issue should be treated in our government? Please feel free to give a nuanced or alternative answer.
Henderson: I believe in scientific facts. The facts about water fluoridation are proven by 70 years of scientific research. The benefits of fluoride have been extensively researched and have been published in numerous scientific journals. People of all ages and economic standing benefit from water fluoridation. Every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs according to the Journal of Dental Research. Fluoridation will reduce our local tax payer dollars spent on dental Medicaid. A (2010 survey) of hospitals in the US found that dental disorders were the number one reason that uninsured patients visited the ER. 74.4% of community water systems in America are fluoridated with no ill effects. Although other fluoride-containing products, (toothpaste, mouth rinses, and dietary supplements) are available and contribute to prevention of tooth decay, community water fluoridation has been identified as the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all, reducing decay by 25% in children and adults. (2007, Journal of Dental Research). Water that has been fortified with fluoridate is similar to fortifying salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D and or orange juice with vitamin C. None of these are medications. (“Fluoride Facts – American Dental Association Facts 2018”) Fluoride is not a medication. Fluoride in water is supported by the American Medical Association, The American Dental Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization.
** Sheridan County spent the following in dental Medicaid funding these amounts in these years:
- FY 2015 – $774,981
- FY 2016 – $746,388
- FY 2017 – $653,106
- FY 2018 books are not completed yet.
- Note: The number of people using Medicaid and their claims is reducing in our county. This is proof that it is working!
The continuation of the fluoridation program for Sheridan needs our continued support. It is one of the hallmarks of a progressive and health conscious community. Cutting fluoride funding to the most needy and economically challenged citizens in our community – young families with children and the community’s elderly is just not right. I support fluoride.
County 3: Sheridan has been increasing its efforts to attract tourists and has seen a fair amount of success. Should these efforts be continued and, if so, what should our next steps be?
Henderson: Yes. We need to market our community and our area. We need to work collaboratively with other markets – Billings/Cody/Rapid City to catch all of the Yellowstone / Mount Rushmore visitors. We need to promote and bid convention & association groups for our community as well as the senior – motor coach business segment. We can promote Fall and Spring packages as well as hunting, golf, and snowmobiler promotional packages. I managed our local community ice rink for 12 years and am very familiar with attracting state and regional hockey tournaments. I have 15 years of senior management in professional national franchise experiences with convention / corporate hotels and franchised restaurants.
County 3: There has been a great deal of tension between the mayor and the city council over separation of powers and responsibilities. According to your understanding, how is our city government currently set up? Is this the way you would like to see it set up, and, if not, what form would you like to see it take? Please feel free to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the systems, including examples gleaned from historical precedent.
There is a role for all. This is how this works for our citizens:
A. Role of the Mayor: The Mayor’s role is to set the strategic vision for the city and council. He is to act as a positive outward face of our community. The Mayor’s number one priority is to be prudent and conservative with our resources.
B. Role of the City Council: The top responsibility of the council is to spend the tax payer’s hard earned money wisely and to not spend one dime more than what is needed to provide safety and to take care of our water, sewer and streets system. Focus on a balanced budget and big picture subjects that benefit all of our citizens. This includes the priorities of focusing on fiscal responsibility, jobs, the quality of life, housing, creating opportunities for our kids and supporting our senior citizens. The council must provide superior service and products in the most cost efficient manner with consistent measurement of results to make sure that the taxpayers are getting all they deserve for their money.
C. Role of the City Administrator: Administrative duties are given to the City Administrator who is directly accountable to the Council and the Mayor. The City Admin is like a CEO or a CFO position in a large company. He is accountable to management (council) and shareholders (the citizens). The administrator has professional skills and professional education in city management. Skills – Finance, Gov’t regulations, Personnel, Business recruitment and retention, compliance and law. He provides consistency which should eliminate politics in a community and promotes growth and stability. Note: Most cities have gone to a City Administrator because it takes politics out of the equation and it provides consistent and cost efficient services to citizens.
County 3: What experiences, connections, and other advantages would you, as an individual, bring to the city government? How would these cause governmental decisions to be more effective, efficient, and insightful?
Civic boards & professional business experience:
- City of Sheridan – City Council – Current.
- City of Sheridan – Planning and Zoning Commission- Past Member – Eight years.
- City of Sheridan – Civil Service Commission – Past Member – Two years.
- City of Sheridan Travel and Tourism – Past member – Ten years.
- Sheridan College Student Mentoring Advisory Board – Current member – One year.
- Sheridan College Hospitality Board – Founding & Current Board – Twenty-three years.
- Sheridan County Fair Association Board – Past Member – Four years.
- Wyoming Rural Development Council – Past Member – Nine years.
- WY Lodging & Restaurant Association – Past President and Board member for 25 years.
A. Background: I am a graduate of the University of South Dakota and have lived in Sheridan for 23 years. My wife Brenda is from Sheridan & teaches kids at district #2. Our kids attended Sheridan public schools, Sheridan College and UW.
B. I have worked in large businesses my entire professional life. I am the Executive Director – at Whitney Benefits ( a private educational foundation) for nearly 19 years. I help people every day with the opportunity to improve their life through education. Our foundation builds community and I help better people’s life. It is very gratifying.
C. Professionally, I am a business man. But more importantly, I am a husband, a Dad, a neighbor, a person who serves, and a citizen like you who you might see me on Main Street, at the Broncos football game, or at church. My family lives here for the same reason you do. Safety, health care, livability, great educational opportunities, and thriving businesses that are not shackled by gov’t over-reach. I will be a fiscal steward – I am good at this. I want our citizens to get the best bang for their hard earned buck. I am running because I too love this community. I will protect & preserve our great way of life.
I have always enjoyed public and civic service and want to give back to my community. “I want to leave my campsite(community) better than I found it.”