By Conrad Dudderar
The campaign for a seat on the Yukon City Council is nearing the homestretch as two candidates canvass neighborhoods meeting their constituents.
Yukon Ward 1 voters will cast ballots on Tuesday, Feb. 8 in an election that pits incumbent Rick Cacini against challenger Rodney Zimmerman.
The winner will earn the next four-year term starting in May at the City of Yukon’s Ward 1 representative.
Ward 1 precincts open for the Feb. 8th city council election will be:
217 – Covenant Community Church, 2250 Yukon Parkway
218 – Discovery Church, 900 E Main Street
220 – Dale Robertson Center, 1200 Lakeshore Drive
The winner will receive the oath of office for the new four-year term at the May 3rd Yukon City Council meeting.
The last contested Ward 1 Yukon City Council race was March 4, 2014, when challenger Richard Russell beat incumbent Nick Grba by a 171-91 vote margin.
No Ward 1 election was needed in 2018 after only Cacini filed for office.
Yukon Mayor and Ward 2 representative Shelli Selby, who has earned a second term after nobody filed against her, also will recite the council oath May 3.
The council will elect a mayor and vice mayor for the next year at that first meeting in May.
Other Yukon City Council members are Donna Yanda, Ward 3; Jeff Wootton, At-Large; and Aric Gilliland, Ward 4.
Yukon City Council members may serve no more than two consecutive terms in office, according to the city charter.
(Read more about the Ward 1 candidates’ views in a Yukon Progress questionnaire)
Richard Wade James Cacini, 74, was elected without opposition four years ago to the Ward 1 post. He’s in his second year as Yukon’s vice mayor.
“My mission is to win and I’m going to win,” Cacini said. “You give me a mission and I do it.
“I offer the residents in my ward more than my opponent. I’m serving my community in various organizations. And I have a heart for helping people – not just by saying it, but by doing it.”
Cacini said he’s been enjoying the campaign – going door-to-door and visiting businesses – because he’s a “people person.”
“I’m meeting a lot of people for the first time,” he added.
Cacini, of Landmark Drive, retired as lieutenant colonel with 40 years in the U.S. Army and 24 years in the Air Force. Founder and curator of the Yukon Veterans Museum, he pointed out that he serves on 12 boards and committees.
The incumbent has lived 31 years in Ward 1.
Cacini touted his background in finances and supervising others, along with his efforts to secure housing for Yukon’s homeless – including veterans. He also embraces his frequent visitors to meet with seniors at the Dale Robertson Center.
“The elderly like people talking to them and they enjoy the socializing,” he said. “The City of Yukon does a very good job taking care of the elderly.”
The incumbent has heard from voters who share his belief that it’s important for a U.S. military veteran to serve on the council.
“I think we need to have diversity, and people with experience who can go to committee meetings at the state and federal level to secure funding for the City of Yukon,” Cacini said.
“With my experience as both a federal employee and a military man, I’ve been all over the world and worked in various countries. My overseas deployments took me all over the Middle East, Africa, The Balkans. I’ve dealt with all types of people and successfully met my mission every time.”
Further, Cacini said he’s always open to new ideas, particularly those that help the City of Yukon and its residents financially.
“I have a lot of experience,” he said. “You have to have experience and know how to ‘get things done’ by working with people and compromising.
“I retired six times. I enjoy life. I just enjoy people.”
Rodney Lane Zimmerman, 44, is a Yukon native and Yukon High School graduate. He teaches U.S. History and coaches girls’ track and cross country.
“I’ve received a really good response from the people I’ve visited with,” the Ward 1 contender said. “That’s been the most fun part for me because I’m finding many of them share my ideas and experiences here in Yukon.
“Many of us are here for the same reasons and we want the same things for our community.”
Zimmerman, of Markley Lane, has taught at YHS since February 2021 after 17-1/2 years at Yukon Middle School.
The challenger has lived 17 years in Ward 1.
“I know there’s certain things the city seems to have fallen behind on – and we need to play ‘catch up’,” Zimmerman said. “I want to help make that happen. There might be several solutions and different routes we can take to get there.
“I’m open-minded about that. My goal would be to take each issue and make decisions that are best for our people and the city.”
In his first run for elected office, he says he’s been “learning a lot” during this “completely” new experience.
In recent weeks during the campaign, Zimmerman said he’s enjoyed hearing good ideas from Ward 1 voters about “some things they would like to see the City of Yukon do – things I hadn’t thought about.”
One such idea he mentioned was to make Yukon “more accessible to walk and bike through.”
If elected Feb. 8, Zimmerman said he will be a leader who “shows transparency” for people across Yukon. He will encourage citizens to be more involved in their local government.
“Whether that’s just e-mailing or calling me to share their thoughts on something, coming to a council meeting to talk to the entire council, or visiting with other people about what they’re thinking,” Zimmerman said.
The Ward 1 hopeful wants to improve communications with Yukon residents, so they stay updated and informed on issues and projects.
“Even if you’re trying to follow what’s happening, sometimes it’s hard to catch it all,” Zimmerman said. “Many of our citizens are in the same boat – they’re seeing what’s happening after the fact.
“There may not be an easy way to remedy that, but surely we can work towards getting information out there a little earlier and in different ways.”
The three Ward 1 polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 8 for the election. Early in-person voting will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 3-4 at the Canadian County Election Board. For more information, call (405) 422-2422.