Tolson: City must invest in itself to attract investment

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Steve Tolson, of the Tolson Agency, which deals in insurance and real estate, is a candidate for the at-large seat on the Pawhuska City Council. The general election is set for June 30, and all registered voters in the city are eligible to help choose the person who will hold the at-large seat for the next three years.

Tolson is challenging incumbent at-large councilor Rodger Milleson for the seat. Tolson led a four-candidate field in the primary on Feb. 11. The general election, originally scheduled to take place in April, was delayed until June 30 because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m a numbers person,” Tolson said, explaining that he enjoys tasks such as helping to design a budget. “I have an accounting degree, so I think that gives me a little bit of an advantage.”

“Once you have an understanding of how things work, it’s a lot easier to explain them to people,” he said, embracing the idea that his duties as a councilor will likely include helping citizens to understand the details of the municipal budget.

Tolson also cited his experience working on grant proposals and fitting the puzzle pieces of a proposal together, and his history of civic involvement, with organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Constantine Arts Council.

“I know the importance of bringing outside dollars into the community,” Tolson said, pointing out that new investment helps to relieve the burden carried by taxpayers.

He also emphasized the important of planning, developing a multi-year plan for accomplishing goals and finding resources to pay for what you want.

“The more planning you can do, the better it is,” Tolson said. He said it is possible to have success without planning, “but I believe with planning you can have so much more success.”

The city’s governmental leadership also needs to encourage citizens to volunteer their time and effort to help the community, he said.

“We have a very diverse community,” Tolson said. “Everybody needs to help where they can, and just get involved.”

Pawhuska currently has an interim city manager and an interim police chief. It has gone through multiple people in each of those jobs in the past couple of years.

Tolson said once the personnel issues are settled, the council can begin to map out the future. With help from the community, the council can determine directions on infrastructure needs ranging from sewers to the water system to roads and trash collection, he said.

Tolson advocated developing an inventory of city assets, and making efforts to enhance those assets for the future. The city will need to invest in itself if it wants to attract investment, he said.

He stressed the importance of becoming involved in the life and development of the community.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve on the council,” he said.