By Mia Birkes
McPherson will hold its quadrennial election for mayor on Nov. 2, 2021. The two candidates are incumbent Tom Brown and Luke Aichele.
Brown has been the mayor of McPherson since April 2009. Born and raised in Ohio, Brown served with the United States Marine Corps and was battle wounded in Vietnam. He has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Having been in office for 12 years, Brown is experienced and well known in the community. He said, “I believe in results, and I believe we’ve had 12 years of results.” Brown upheld his platform that McPherson is a great town with plenty of room for cosmetic improvement.
Aichele is the owner of Luke’s Barber Shop, located in McPherson’s historic Opera House on Main Street. He has been a business owner for 16 years. He and his wife, Chelsea, just had a baby girl, Decker, on Sept. 8. If elected mayor, Aichele said he will be “a catalyst for positive change in the community.” Aichele believes that affordable housing is the most important issue of this election, alongside financial transparency and being easily accessible to the public. He said that he’s not an experienced politician by any means, but he’s made strong connections with community members and has heard their calls for improvement.
A mayoral forum was held on Sept. 16, 2021. The first question asked after their opening statements was, “What do you believe is most important to develop in the city?” Brown answered affordable housing. Aichele agreed, saying that McPherson “focuses on industrial growth, which is great, but it’s time to focus on private citizens.”
When asked about their opinions on mask mandates, both candidates agreed that to wear a mask is the individual’s choice and recommend following the advice of local health officials before following national mandates.
Another question was, “What is the responsibility of the mayor when it comes to enforcing state and national mandates?” Brown said, “You need to follow the chain of command and do what you’re told.” Aichele, on the other hand, said that he doesn’t “know exactly what the responsibility of mayor is” when it comes to the chain of command and mandates, but he’s “willing to learn.” He said he knows that he’s going out of his comfort zone, but he has big dreams for the McPherson community.
Finally, when asked about what they want McPherson to be in the next five to 20 years, Brown said he wants to create second story apartments above businesses on Main Street, install a food truck plaza across from the McPherson Water Park or another popular destination, and build a community aquatics center that is accessible to all without a membership fee. Aichele, on the other hand, dreams of flourishing parks, drivable roads, and a higher quality public school system.