Gilliland: ‘Love for this community and our people runs deep’

Ward 4 voters cast ballots Tuesday; winner earns four-year term

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By Conrad Dudderar

Associate Editor

Aric Gilliland grew up in Yukon’s Ward 4 neighborhoods.

Now he wants to represent his Ward 4 neighbors.

Gilliland, 41, is seeking the next four-year term as Ward 4 city council representative. He faces Yukon business owner Ken Wilkins, 60, in next Tuesday’s Ward 4 election.

A Yukon High School graduate, Gilliland teaches at Epic Charter School, and is a coach and small business owner.

“I went to school with these folks,” he said. “I’ve taught and coached their kids. We go to church together. My kids play with their kids and I have a love for this community and our people that runs very deep.

“I want to serve to be a voice for our residents – a voice that brings new ideas and new perspective to the council. People who vote for me can know that I seek the position not out of selfish ambition, but with a heart to serve our great community.”

During the campaign, Gilliland has been in neighborhoods seeing families and friends he’s known his whole life while making many new acquaintances. He’s enjoyed walking the streets where he grew up riding bikes and playing ball with friends.

“Our days at Ranchwood Elementary were special times and these neighborhoods are a special place,” Gilliland said. “It has really reminded me why I love this town so much and chose to run for the Ward 4 seat.

“I’ve put a lot of miles on my truck getting out to visit with farmers and families in our rural community. These people are a vital part of our community – the backbone, and I’ve enjoyed hearing what they have to say.”

He likes meeting people for early morning coffee at places like McDonalds. He values getting a great perspective from folks who have been in Yukon longer, and seen more, than most residents.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has been excited to have someone that is listening and looking for ways to help work on the things they are interested in,” he said. “Things like fixing neighborhood streets and signs and improving Yukon’s recreation opportunities.”

Gilliland referred to the love and devotion of his first-grade teacher, and how that has inspired him over many years. He’s proud to earn the endorsement of former Yukon school Superintendent Terry Dean.

“He told me he is thrilled to see a lifelong Miller give back to this community that we both love so much,” the Ward 4 candidate said.

VALUE OF EFFICIENCY

As a business owner and educator, Gilliland said he’s learned to be efficient with time, money and resources. He believes Yukon city government should strive for efficiency.

“Redundancy and waste can plague any organization,” Gilliland said. “When these things linger or grow it can negatively impact the job we’re expected to do. It is important to be vigilant regarding these things. It is equally important to correct these problems when we find them.”

Communication also is key, and Gilliland said it’s vital that a city council carefully listen to its constituents and respond in earnest.

“Constituents tend to have a perspective that can sometimes be lost in government,” he said.

With a finite amount of resources available, Gilliland believes city leaders must be diligent in understanding how to maintain, improve and prioritize what Yukon has as the city continues to grow.

“I have been looking closely at our budgets over the past few years to get an idea of where we’ve been and an idea as to where we’re heading,” the Ward 4 contender said. “It has been encouraging to see how well we are doing. It is also a reminder that careful planning and execution are very important.”

During the campaign, he’s spent time speaking with current council members, past and present police officers and firefighters, and public works employees to gain insight on what is working and how the city can improve.

If elected, he wants to reflect on improvement after his first term.

“Did we work hard to maintain and grow the trust of the people?” Gilliland said. “Were we good stewards of the people’s tax dollars? Did we prioritize the needs of our residents? Did we support our law enforcement and firefighters? Did we work hard to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly younger community while honoring those who have come before us? Do we have a plan to continue doing these things well?

“If four years from now, we can honestly answer, ‘yes’ to these questions, I will be pleased.”

Gilliland listed several issues he’d like to address in Ward 4 – Rebuilding Wagner Road, street repairs in Ranchwood North, safer sidewalks along the bridge in Von Elm East, and improving the drainage ditch on the east side of Highway 4.

“Ward 4 will be my priority and I will also be working on issues that will benefit all Yukon residents,” Gilliland said. “When we work to maintain and grow business in Yukon city limits, it increases our tax base allowing us to do more for our residents.

“If we build a new recreation facility that can serve all ages, it can benefit all residents. When we work hard to keep police and fire at the top of our priority list, it benefits all Yukon residents.”