Candidates talk about Boonville's future

The Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates Night at the Boonville City Council Chambers Thursday evening. The night included questions by Bob Bosma of 1370 AM KWRT Radio and Edward Lang of the Boonville Daily News. There were three contested races that were represented, which included a race for the Boonville R-1 School Board, Boonville Ward Two and Boonville Mayor.
The contested race for the school board included Richelle Adair Kluck and Natesia Jiles.
Kluck has served two terms on the Boonville R-1 School Board and Jiles is running for the first time. Both candidates provided brief opening statements.
“The thing I like most about serving on the board is knowing I am doing the best I can for the kids of this community,” Kluck said.
“I believe citizens should take an active role in the education of our students. We should retain local control of our district,” Jiles said.
Q-What is your opinion on the expansion of Common Core?
“Common Core I believe has been misunderstood by many. I have had lengthy discussions with our ciriculum director and assistant superintendent about this. I understand the concerns that come along with this. The standards that we are probably going to adopt offer us many different options. It does not tell us it has to be taught a certain way. It offers many different avenues for these things to be delivered. We can't operate our school district without the state and federal funding,” Kluck said.
“I agree with Ms. Adair that the main thing is to keep focus and retain control,” Jiles said.
Q-What is the biggest obstacle facing the school district?
“I think diversity is a big goal,” Jiles said.
“There are many obstacles we must overcome everyday. Funding is a huge factor from the state and federal government. Sometimes we go into September without knowing what kind of transportation budget we are going to have. Being able to provide the best possible education and keep parents and children involved as much as possible,” Kluck said.
Q-What is your opinion on professional teaching staff pay being tied directly to performance measurements?
“There is not too many jobs where the pay is not tied to their performance. In the last few years we have implemented a new way of measuring teacher performance, who are measured many times throughout the year. It should be linked somewhat but you cannot equate what goes on in a child's life,” Kluck said.
“The teachers should have top salaries so we can keep them to be able to recruit so we can move forward,” Jiles said.
Q-What is your position on business or commercial sponsorship on facilities or products within the school?
Jiles had no comment.
“I do not think that is a bad thing. I look at the score board and the advertising on it. I think the more funds we have coming in will only benefit our children. If that can help get new uniforms and equipment I do not see it as a bad thing. Other school district fences have business logos who have donated to that district,” Kluck said.
Q-As some federal and state subsidies shrink, how would you go about maintaining those programs?
“Dr. Ficken is very creative where we can pull things from where it doesn't look very good. The one thing people do not understand about school funding is there are four different funds we are required to keep our money. Each one has its own purpose. It is illegal to pull from one for another. All funds have to come from a certain fund,” Kluck said.
“I would seek other resources and other school districts for ideas to see what they did,” Jiles said.
Q-Safety has been a huge concern for schools around the nation. How will you continue to provide the safety environment our students need?
“By providing more staffing to secure the place and being aware of technical devises that will provide safety for our students,” Jiles said.
“Keeping our schools safe is a top priority. On the top of the list with the bond issue is the safety and security upgrades. There will be a buzz-in system in all buildings. There will be updated intercom and lighting,” Kluck said.
Q-Would you like to see the Bible and Pledge of Allegiance in the school again?
“Me personally, I think is okay to have prayer before games. My children were a part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I grew up to say the Pledge every day and I would like to see it said again. It seems God and country have left the schools and bringing it back would be a positive thing,” Kluck said.
“Yes, I believe personally having God first makes the day go better. Those who do not believe do not have to participate,” Jiles said.
In closing, Kluck said she is looking forward to the challenges and if everyone stands united the challenges can be overcome. Jiles said is looking forward to the challenge. She said if the children are kept first in the decision making, things can be improved.
The Boonville City Council candidates offered opening statements.
Boonville Ward One candidate Kari Evans said she is glad to call Boonville home and has been involved with numerous organizations in the city. Evans believes tourism, small business development and recruiting new businesses to the area are three areas that will help grow the area's economy. She also believes Boonville has all the necessary items in place to make Boonville a premiere destination.
Boonville Ward Three candidate Ned Beach asked the audience what the legacy of Boonville should be. Should it be bricks or plaques or that your children and grandkids made their life here? Beach said, he along with Boonville Ward Three Councilwoman Becky Ehlers attended a community forum on poverty in the Cooper County area. He said there were three areas of concern, which included the loss of industry, lack of a family structure, unskilled work force who lack the skills needed for new jobs in today's world. Beach said the city has lost 1,500 full-time jobs in the past four years.
Boonville Ward Four candidate Henry Hurt said he hopes his legacy reads that he tried to help the citizens of Boonville. He noted some of the changes the city has experienced in the previous years.
Boonville Ward Two Councilwoman and candidate Susan Meadows was appointed by Boonville Mayor Julie Thacher after Hurt moved from his ward. Meadows wants to see prosperity for the city. She feels very encouraged by the leadership in the community. Meadows supports the expansion of State Fair Community College in Boonville and the education of the youth. Meadows also believes tourism will only assist in the prosperity of the town.
Ward Two Councilman candidate Albert Turner spoke about his first trips to Boonville from Fayette. Turner said he is a financial person from head to toe. Turner would like to play a role in asisting with the cities' financials.
Q-Boonville has a lot of wonderful places but there are some places that need attention. Do you think Boonville needs stricter codes or enforcement of these codes?
“I am not sure stricter codes are needed but I feel enforcement is key. I think the city inspector has been doing his job to the best of his ability and we are seeing closure on some properties in the town. The city administration is doing the best they can to make sure public buildings are secure and safe,” Meadows said.
“I am not in favor of new codes but I do think there is some need in some upkeep. I think we need to get out more and talk more in the community. I have noticed there are places in town that have fallen in disrepair,” Turner said.
Q-What portion of the Boonville operating budget could safely come from casino revenue?
“I think 30-40 percent could come from the boat. I know revenue growth is flat and down and that is a concern for me. The casino, I believe, is the lifeline of the community. We should do everything in our power to keep revenues flowing from casino,” Turner said.
“I agree with what Turner said. The revenues have been flat. I do not believe that we can rely on the revenues in the next couple years to increase. As far as percent, 25 percent, maybe,” Meadows said.
Q-How will you work with Boonville Economic Developer Jim Gann in pursuing more economic development in the area?
“I am excited about collaberating with Mr. Gann and the University. I think we opened a lot of opportunity, especially for agri-business. I am excited about the redevelopment for the Kemper Campus and with bringing educational opportunities will bring out of town dollars for individiuals coming to campus,” Meadows said.
“We have a major hill to climb with Kemper and how we will pay for everything that needs to get done. I feel confident though of the plan in place. You take small steps but I think it will be a long hard walk,” Turner said.
Q-What is your position of out-sourcing city services?
“I am not in favor of it. If we say we are outsourcing because our employees are not up-to-date. I want to keep those dollars here in the community. I want to help get our employees ready for tomorrow,” Turner said.
“From what I have learned, I have to say I am not keen on out-sourcing but it has been successful with allowing the city not having to manage certain aspects of city services. It takes a load off of us and gives it to another entity,” Meadows said.
Q-How will you engage your constituents?
“I would like to go around and visit area businesses and the tourism office to see what their needs are,” Meadows said.
“I consider myself a good listener. I think you have to provide feedback to constituents. I plan to follow up with the concerns in my ward,” Turner said.
In closing, Meadows said she loves Boonville. She feels what she does here matters and plans to reach out to the citizens to the best of her ability.
Turner said his family wants to contribute to the growth of the community.
In the Boonville Mayoral Race, Boonville Mayor Julie Thacher said she has been active in the past 40 years in Boonville. She said she has learned a lot in the four years serving as mayor. Thachers said it is imperative to find new jobs for the city. She believes the city should be forward thinking for economic development. Thachers said another priority is cleaning up the city. In the past four years, the city has torn down 20 derelict houses and removed 240 derelict cars. Thacher believes marketing Boonville is a must especially since Columbia is experiencing tremendous growth.
Thacher ended with a quote by Roy Rogers. “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”
Boonville Ward Four Councilman Carter who is running for mayor wants the city to begin to save more money. Carter thinks the city should better position the city when opportunities come. Carter wants more jobs and wants the city to work with the Industry Development Authority and Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce. Carter said he wants to do away with the city portion of the property tax.
Q-What will your policy be on tie votes?
“My policy is what our ordinance states, which says the mayor must break the tie. I do not like to do that but I have had to in few cases,” Thacher said.
“The ordinance states the mayor must break the tie vote. If all possible I would like to refer it to the council at the next council meeting so more information can be obtained,” Carter said.
Q-As mayor, you are the ultimate ambassador of our community. How would you relay Boonville's message to other people?
“I would tell people that Boonville is a loving town. We have a lot of buildings relating to the cities' history. We are a open door policy and interested in input form anyone,” Carter said.
“My husband and I have been doing this on our travels. I feel like we have been ambassadors for Boonville. All you have to do is talk about what Boonville has to offer and its people. If there is a need, the citizens of Boonville will rise up and see that is taken care of. Boonville sells itself. I find it very easy to be an ambassador. We are always dragging people here who want to come visit,” Thacher said.
Q-For the last couple years, the city has had a strong relationship with State Fair Community College,. How do you want to go forward this relationship?
“There has been an open door policy with State Fair. We have approached them to try to set up a lease with Science Hall. At this time there is no lease. I am against putting additional funds into Science Hall until State Fair can come forward with a commitment,” Carter said.
“State Fair has endorsed the Science Hall project. Their board has said on the record they want to proceed with the lease, which they have been presented. I would anticipate we will have a written lease soon,” Thacher said.
Q-How would you save money?
“We are doing a lot of credit bonds, which I think is very unnecessary. We can use that money to grow city and use for it for other projects,” Carter said.
“We are at a time when we need to invest in the community. The Kemper Campus is very important because it will provide education for our citizens. It will assist individuals to get out of poverty because it is very inexpensive and right here in town,” Thacher said.
In closing, Thacher said she loves Boonville and plans to put her all in the next four years. Thacher added she was approached by many residents asking her to reconsider running again for mayor.
Carter said he was asked by many individuals to run for mayor and was proud these individuals had the confidence in him. Carter said he plans to put the citizens voice back into the Boonville City Hall.