JOPLIN, Mo.– What would you do if you had a million dollars?
It’s a thought many people ponder over at least once or twice throughout their lives. Some may buy a new house for their parents, others may donate portions of it to charity, and some people may even top off their gas tank after paying off their student loans.
That same question was asked to those running for Joplin City Council at Wednesday night’s public forum and this time around, the responses were more aimed at improving quality of life in Joplin. Answers ranged from opening a kids summer camp, to improving parks and trails within the city, and even renovating empty historic buildings to serve the Joplin’s homeless population.
The forum provided voters the opportunity to hear how candidates planned to address issues in their community if they were to be elected. Some of the discussed issues were small business expansion, reducing crime, and rebuilding residential trust with their city government.
The questions were crafted by members of OneJoplin, a local non-profit that hosted the event. Coordinators say that the organization does not endorse any candidate and that the forum is a resource for the community to use stay in touch with local politics. Candidates were briefed on the questions beforehand and answers were limited to 60 seconds.
The ‘million-dollar’ question allowed candidates to dream big for their city, while other questions prompted more straightforward answers.
What strengths does Joplin have that council can build on?
“The community,” one candidate answered. “I think that was proven from the tornado. This community is the most resilient bunch of people you’ve ever seen in your life.”
“Definitely demographics,” said another. “We’ve got an abundance of manufacturing jobs.”
What weaknesses need to be addressed by council in the next 2-3 years?
“An immediate weakness we have right now is that we do not have a full-time city manager,” explained one candidate. “We also have more infrastructure than we have the ability to maintain.”
Other answers suggested implementing a use tax and uniting surrounding communities.
The candidates come from a variety of backgrounds featuring veterans, stay-at-home moms, post-tornado volunteers, and lifelong city residents.
Eleven candidates are running to fill five seats — Zone II, Zone III, and three at-large positions. The election will take place on April 7.
|Charles Copple||Zone II|
|Harvey Hutchinson||Zone II|
|Jim Scott||Zone II|
|Phil Stinnett*||Zone III|
|Steve Urie||Zone III|
|*Indicates incumbent candidate|