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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Candidates for city office share their vision for Monett

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mayor candidate Jim Orr
On Tuesday, Monett voters will have their first chance to vote on candidates for the Monett City Council. Two candidates are running for mayor and three are running for city commissioner.

The election will be held on April 3. The primary is mandated by state law but all five will appear on the April ballot.

The Times has asked each of the candidates to answer four questions. Their responses follow:

Mayor candidate Dennis Murphy
Jim Orr, candidate for mayor

Q. Personal background information:

1) I have been married to Vicki for 45 years, have two daughters and two grandchildren. I have served 36 years as a teacher and school administrator with over 30 years as an administrator in Monett and at Ozark Community College (OTC) in Springfield. Served as president of a professional organization on the local, state and national levels. Having lived in Monett for more than 40 years, I feel that I have learned the community and the people who live here. For the last eight years I have had the honor of being mayor of Monett. Along with the other two council members, I feel that we have made many improvements and have achieved many projects that have improved the economic development of the city.

City commission candidate Mike Brownsberger
Q. What strengths do you bring to the Monett City Council?

A. I see my strengths as:

a) My eight previous years of service as mayor.

City commissioner candidate Jerry Dierker
b) The ability to understand budgets and to work within them.

c) My knowledge of the Monett community.

d) My ability to listen before making decisions that affect employees of the city.

City commission candidate Stephen Schoen
e) My 30 years in education administration, which taught me the people skills necessary to work with employees and individuals in the community.

Q. What would be your top three priorities for the city?

A. My top priorities are:

a) Continuing to work for an alternative water source other than drilling more wells.

b) Providing city support for the redevelopment of the downtown area.

c) Working within the annually approved budget.

Q. How will you help move Monett forward?

A. I will help move Monett forward by:

a) My continued support for the Monett Main Street and the DREAM program and the Drury project in redeveloping the downtown area.

b) My continued support in trying to control the flooding in the downtown area.

c) My continued evaluation of the city's infrastructure in water and electrical to ensure meeting the needs of the city, citizens and industry.

d) Continued work with MoDOT in providing the best highways in and around the city to support growth as needed.

e) Working together with the Monett Chamber of Commerce on projects that will advance the economic development and growth of the city.

Dennis Murphy, candidate for mayor

Q. Personal background information:

A. Marionville was my hometown. I have six children: two sons, one daughter from my first marriage and three girls with my wife, Rebecca. I graduated from Marionville 1974-79; U.S. Army combat arms, Vietnam era veteran, 2 NCO Academies for leadership skills and working as a team; 1980-93 Hartz Mountain Corp. over the road driver, route sales, corporation-to-corporation sales, troubleshooter on routes with problems and communication skills that came with the job; 1984-96 Marionville City Council; 1993-2008 worked locally. At this time, I'm retired.

Q. What strengths do you bring to the Monett City Council?

A. Strengths are within everybody. Some are more open with theirs, don't make fast decisions, know your facts and listen to those having something to say with an open mind. My grandfather, Babe Allhands, would say to us boys while I was growing up that a man's name is as good as his word, as if his word is no good, than his name is no good, so always do the right thing. Your word is what sets your name in life. I've done my best to live up to him, so that's where my strength lies.

Q. What would be your top three priorities for the city?

A. As an elected member, the whole city is the priority to maintain growth for the long term.

1) To put Monett on the map, to come and see what we have to offer. It's a great city, with a long history in southwest Missouri, with strong business districts all over the city, so we need to let people know about Monett. Through promotions, advertising with the help of the Monett Chamber of Commerce to sell our city.

2) Look for growth in the industry we have at this time and see how we can help them in hiring and look for new industry to come to Monett to boost the economy which will in turn help our local businesses as well. As The Monett Times says 'buy locally,' I do.

3) Over the years I've been asked about a mayor-ward council, why isn't Monett set up this way? This is a big jump. It can be done with a strong two alderman per ward, six ward zones, with two aldermen at large and a mayor for a total of 15 members on the council that would represent the whole city across the board. It's a change that the citizens as a whole would have to want, and I would work for this.

Q. How will you help move Monett forward?

A. Take your time and look at the whole picture of the city for long-term growth. Always look at all your options that will benefit Monett. That's where your strength comes from. You have to like what you're doing and always give 100 percent every time. If you do this, the citizens will let you know every time, always listen to what the city is saying back to you, then you will know you are moving on the right path.

Commission candidate Mike Brownsberger

Q. Personal background information:

A. Graduate of Rockhurst College in 1968 with an accounting degree; graduate of the University of Missouri in 1970 as a certified public accountant. My family includes my wife, Gail, and three grown children, Chris, Kelly and Lindsey. I am the owner/manager of Brownsberger's Clothing from 1971 to the present. I have served on the Monett City Council from 2007 to the present.

Q. What strengths do you bring to the Monett City Council?

A. I have:

* Knowledge of finances and budgets, and how to make them work for the long-term good of our community.

* Knowledge of the Monett community and its people.

* Ability to listen and consider all aspects of an issue.

* Five years experience as a member of the Monett City Council.

Q. What would be your top three priorities for the city?

3) My priorities are:

1) Maintain the top quality city services that we now have.

2) Continue long term planning of utilities and infrastructure.

3) Continue the positive attitude that has enabled Monett to be the strong community that it is today.

Q. How will you help move Monett forward?

4) Work with the Chamber, Monett Schools and other community organizations for the betterment of Monett. Be open to new idea.

Commission candidate Jerry Dierker

Q. Personal background information:

A. I attended Monett schools from kindergarten through graduation. I am married to Virginia for 48 years. We have two children and five grandchildren. I have been the owner of my own construction business for 50 years. I am an active member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. I've been active in various athletic programs over the years, including coaching and sponsoring little baseball teams and Mighty Mite football. I have been a member of the Missouri National Guard for 24 years. I have also served on the Cox Monett Hospital Advisory Board since 1996. I currently serve as president of the Monett Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), and I have served on the Monett City Council as a commissioner since 1996.

Q. What strengths do you bring to the Monett City Council?

A. My strengths are common sense and straight talk. I'm not a politician. I'm a contractor and small business owner and I know how to get things done. In my working life, I am in touch with a wide variety of people, including business owners, working people and executives. I listen to their ideas and I listen to what they think. When I have an idea or hear about something that I think would be good for Monett, I try to see what others think and if it has merit. Then I see what can be done about making it happen.

Q. What would be your top three priorities for the city?

A. My priorities are:

* Utilities planning: Because of the high costs and time it takes to make improvements to our utilities infrastructure, the city cannot be in a position of playing catch-up. We have to provide for the current needs but also make sure we have adequate capacity to grow. Then when opportunity comes to us or is invited in, everything is in place to accommodate that opportunity, whether that is an expansion of one of the existing industries or a new one coming to town. In my time on the city council, that has always been a goal and so far it has worked pretty well.

* Transportation planning: The city has been an area leader in partnering with the Missouri Department of Transportation to make major improvements in Highway 60 and Highway 37 and also Business Highway 60 (Cleveland). These improvements have made travel much safer and convenient for people to shop, get to work and get to school. We also did a major overhaul of Broadway in 2000 with all new sidewalks, curb and gutter, storm sewer, street resurfacing, street lights, traffic lights, a new 12-inch water main, fire hydrants and new water service lines to all downtown buildings. We have a top-notch snow removal program and street maintenance program.

* Recreation facilities: I'm proud of the recreation facilities the city has developed over the years. Our recreational facilities add so much to the quality of life in Monett and make it a better place to live. We have made improvements to our baseball and softball facilities over the years and are getting ready to put state-of-the-art lighting on the fields. We have built soccer fields to meet the needs of a growing sport. We also have tennis courts at the South Park and North Park as well as a lighted skate park. We have completed miles of Greenways Trails sidewalks linking our school campuses and parks. Our South Park is the crown jewel of our city park system and a magnet for bringing people from the area to enjoy what we have to offer. Personally, I am not a golfer, but I think our golf course is very important to Monett. We added an additional nine holes several years ago, and it is irrigated with water from our wastewater plant, which would otherwise be discharged to Clear Creek, saving millions of gallons of water each year.

Q. How will you help move Monett forward?

A. The best way to help Monett move forward is to be positive in attitude and outlook. You look for opportunities for the city and try to make good decisions keeping in mind those things that are in the long-term best interest of the city. Monett has been fortunate to have good people on the city council over the years and I have been privileged to work with many of them.

Commission candidate Stephen Schoen

Q. Personal background information:

A. My name is Stephen Schoen. I have been married to my wife, Deborah Schoen, for 34 years. I am a lifetime member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Freistatt while my wife has been a member for 34 years. We have lived in Monett for close to 25 years. I am a charter member of the Freistatt Lions Club where I served as a past officer and recently earned recognition as recipient of The Edwin Dalstrom Distinguished Service Award. I served on the board of the Freistatt Volunteer Fire Association for several years. Looking at contributions to the Monett community, I was a member of the Monett Chamber of Commerce for several years and served as the pyrotechnics supervisor on the Monett 4th of July Committee for nine years. I am presently serving on the Organization Committee for the Monett Main Street Project to help in the revitalization of downtown Monett. I am also a conservative Republican and have served as a representative on the Lawrence County Republican Central Committee. In 1969 after graduating from Monett High School, I immediately went to work in our family-owned implement dealership and later became president/co-owner of Schoen Equipment Inc. in Freistatt. Over the next 40 years, my brother and I built a successful business selling for various lines, including Allis Chalmers, Hesston/Fiat and most recently John Deere equipment. In 2009, we chose to sell our business and have since rented our buildings and property to another John Deere dealer. I was always the adventurous one in our business by adding various products to our sales such as toys, pools and spas. During the last six years before selling, I became interested in biomass renewable energy and was successful in coming up with a furnace to use in poultry, hog and turkey farms. During that time, I had the opportunity to be a quest of Representative Don Ruzicka in Jefferson City on several occasions to speak to our legislators on the possibilities of biomass renewable energy grants for our area farmers.

Q. What strengths do you bring to the Monett City Council?

A. I am a strong believer that "experience is the best knowledge." The fact that I have 40 years experience owning/managing a successful business would not only lend strength to our city government, but stability as well. More specifically, I have learned during those 40 years of dealing with personnel, balancing budgets, making major decisions and managing operations in general affords me the leadership knowledge and confidence that is much needed in city government. I especially enjoyed the experience of working with people in the public and have missed that immensely since choosing to sell our business. Owning one's own business also teaches you to be conservative with investments, which I have learned to be a very good practice and plan to continue if chosen by the people to be a Monett city commissioner. I have also been faced with many challenges and have learned the best way to approach them is head on, working with others to overcome those challenges. Monett's growth and progress has been made possible, in part, by its leadership. However, I believe there comes a time when new faces on the city council could be a positive step toward bringing fresh ideas for Monett's future. I would appreciate the opportunity to be that new face if the residents of Monett feel the same as I do.

Q. What would be your top three priorities for the city?

A. My top priorities would be:

(1) Flooding needs to be addressed once and for all. This is one problem Monett has faced not only in the downtown area but in several areas around town. Attempts at fixing the problem have historically been in the form of talk or "temporary" fixes, which have resulted in some slowing down of water runoff. While I realize our city council has been diligent to enforce the creation of retention ponds in new areas of development, I have witnessed time and time again during a significant rain our police and street departments unloading barricades and placing them in the same locations that are vulnerable to flooding. This is a prime example that tells us we have not fixed the problem--we have only created a detour around the problem. Addressing this issue is key to preventing the devastating and long-term damage flooding can cause to our streets as well as residential properties.

(2) In these times of economic hardships, I believe it is especially important for a city to look for ways to build up their reserves. While grants may be available and good for short-term fixes or smaller projects, a substantial reserve gives a city a much more stable base and offers more opportunities for self- sufficiency. I would like to get back to the basics by building back the reserves we once had and explore the opportunities available to cities that can show a healthy basis for growth.

There are true advantages to maintaining significant reserves of which many are not aware. Besides the obvious reason of having an emergency financial backup readily available, maintaining a healthy reserve fund can (1) allow flexibility of deductibles, which would lower property insurance premiums; (2) increase the city's revenue stream through interest and/or dividends; and (3) give the City of Monett a cutting edge on competitiveness for new development.

(3) I would like to look into the possibilities of increasing the number of people who serve on our city council. Ever since I can remember there have been only three people serving on our city council. Perhaps in the good ole days, three council members seemed adequate. However, with the population growth over the years, adding more members on the board to make our major decisions seems only appropriate to show fairness, honesty and equal geographic representation of our city. Monett and West Plains are the only two towns left in Missouri who have not revisited their form of government and makeup of board members. Even Freistatt, as small as it is, offers five seats on their board. In reality, with our present city council status, it takes only two people to make a decision -- two votes represent the majority. More importantly, I have always believed it seemed almost irresponsible for only three people to be handling the amount of money involved in our annual budget--Monett's annual city budget is presently approaching $40 million. I would welcome public input on this issue.

Q. How will you help move Monett forward?

A. Again, "experience is the best knowledge," and one thing I have learned from running a business is that you have to be competitive. While the city of Monett strives to meet the needs of its residents and businesses, I am willing and ready to help Monett move to the next level by exploring ways for us to become more competitive. If other cities can do it, I strongly believe Monett can, too. We need more incentives to draw industries, merchants and residents into our city limits. A good example I have already explored is renewable energy efficiency plans that could lower utility demands. Lower your utility demand and the cost of your utility bill goes down. I am sure this would please those who already reside or own a business in town. However, having a plan such as this in place (one that competes more comparably to other rural areas and cities) would certainly offer better incentives for residential and commercial developers to build in Monett. Although Monett has many assets and can be proud of its accomplishments, I believe "competitiveness" is one of its weakest points. Perhaps it is because competing with other cities and towns does not give a friendly impression. However, cities compete all the time, especially for the purpose of bringing new business and growth to their cities. In this respect, I believe being competitive can bring positive and healthy results. As a candidate for Monett city commissioner, I have visions to share for the future and planning ahead, and one of my goals is to meet the tough competitiveness of other cities so that Monett continues to move forward.

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