(MACON, MO) On Tuesday April 2nd, 2019, voters within Ward 1 in the City of Macon will get the opportunity to vote for either Don Kinkhorst or Ernie Lea for Ward 1 City Councilman. The Ward 1 City Council Race is the only competitive race for the Macon City Council on the ballot this year. Don Kinkhorst is the incumbent and recently got elected back in 2017 for his first term. Ernie Lea previously served as the Ward 1 Councilman for the City of Macon but was defeated in 2018 by Taylor Wesley who is currently sitting on the council as the second councilman representing Ward 1. We reached out to both candidates to give them an opportunity to answer a few questions. The questions and their answers are stated below.

QUESTION 1: State your background (name, age, where you grew up, organizations you’re involved in, where you graduated, previous jobs, etc.)

KINKHORST: “I was born in Seattle, Washington in 1954 (64 years young), grew up in Fairway, Kansas, graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 1973 and received a degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University in 1976. I have been with Allied Seed, LLC for over 32 years, currently as national sales manager. I’ve been married to my wife, Roxann, for 42 plus years, have three children and 7 grandchildren. Macon has been my home since 1993. While in Macon I have served two terms on the Macon R-1 School Board, two terms on the Macon Municipal Utilities Board as vice-president and currently serving my first term on the Macon City Council from Ward 1.”

LEA: “My name is Ernie Lea. I am 59 years young and I am running for 1ST ward councilman. I was born and raised in Macon. I went to school here, raised a family, and worked here most of my life. I am an appliance repairman, and have been since 1978. I currently work at Tim’s Home Center, located in Shelbina, MO, and also at the Macon Cinema. I was a member of the Macon Jaycees for over 30 years, which nurtured my love for community service. My wife’s name is Kristie and we have lived in the 1st ward for 21 years. One of my daughter’s names is also Kristy, which can be confusing, at times. Together, we have a total of 6 children.”

QUESTION 2: Why are you seeking to be re-elected/elected to the Macon City Council?

KINKHORST: “Even though I accomplished several of my goals during my first term, I would like a second term to help successfully get the city of Macon on a sound financial footing, continue to make city government more efficient and transparent, grow commerce and improve the city’s infrastructure.”

LEA: “I am running for 1st ward councilman because I love this community and care about the people who live here. They are friends and neighbors who want to live their lives in the best place possible (that would be Macon!). I want to be their voice on the city council to make sure that happens. Their ideas and opinions matter and deserve to be heard. I want to represent the citizens of the 1st ward, and I hope they know that they can contact me any time with their concerns. I will do my best to serve their interests. Please exercise your right to vote on April 2nd. I would appreciate your consideration when doing so.”

QUESTION 3: What is the Most Pressing Issue Facing Macon and how are you working to improve it/what and how do you plan on improving it?

KINKHORST: “The most serious issue facing Macon is finances. For a number of years, Macon has come close to not being able to meet its financial obligations and yet other than moving money from one fund to the general fund to cover deficits (which is not a long-term solution), nothing was done until this last year to stop the bleeding.”

LEA: “I believe the most pressing issue facing Macon at this time is our infrastructure. An obvious concern currently is the condition of our roads. All cities are seeing this right now because of the hard winter we have experienced. It is imperative that we have good roads to bring in new businesses and to keep current ones here. As far as improving it, we just have to be smart with spending the road tax we have already approved.”

QUESTION 4: Explain the relationship between taxation and city development?

KINKHORST: “Taxation is a necessary tool to allow the city to provide the services and infrastructure needed for stability and growth. However, you cannot tax your way out of financial instability, especially with sales taxes which fluctuate from year to year and if too high, will impede economic growth.”

LEA: “As far as taxation and city development goes, the city is a provider of services for the people. No one likes taxes, however, a major sources of income for the city is funded by taxation. So, in order to keep all the services that it provides to its citizens, it is of utmost importance that the city operates these services efficiently, while keeping the costs to a minimum. To generate more money for the city to provide more services, you either have to raise taxes, which we try to avoid, or make the tax base larger by drawing more people and businesses to the city.”

QUESTION 5: What is Your Opinion on the Sunshine Law and should it be protected at all costs?

KINKHORST: “I believe the Sunshine Law needs to be strictly enforced.”

LEA: “The Sunshine Law is very beneficial in that it provides for the public to know when meetings are, what constitutes a meeting, and keeps our government transparent. Yes, to protect the public interest, I believe the Sunshine Law should remain intact.”

QUESTION 6: What is your opinion on how the pool Issue is progressing?

KINKHORST: “I agree 100% with the position stated by the city council recreation committee which was printed in the newspaper recently.”

LEA: “A community swimming pool, I believe, is a service that the majority of our citizens want, and I believe that it would be a positive factor in their decision for those considering whether to make Macon their home town. However, I believe that the issue of a public pool has been put on the back burner at this time, due to other priorities.”

QUESTION 7: What is one thing you’d Like to introduce/propose to better Macon?

KINKHORST: “First, I would urge the passage of the Use Tax to help our local businesses compete on a level playing field and to help cover the decline in our sales tax revenue last year and possible declines in succeeding years. Second, develop and communicate a pro-business strategy and business incentives to entice companies to locate in Macon.”

LEA: “I would like to see the city embrace tourism to a greater degree, and try to help encourage more people to come and visit our little slice of heaven that we, here in Macon, call home.”

QUESTION 8: What makes Macon unique?

KINKHORST: “I like to think Macon is unique in several areas such as community involvement, owning our utilities, recreational opportunities, our excellent school system and technological infrastructure.”

LEA: I have always thought that our history makes us unique. The Blees building and Museum, as you come into town from the south, for example, is just one of the things we have to offer as a point of interest. As a lifelong resident of Macon, I have a lot of great memories of our town and what it has to offer. Some examples that come to mind are several downtown events such as the Sidewalk Sales, Fork and Cork, and the Historic Royal Theater, which houses the increasingly popular Maples Repertory Theatre. Of course, there’s the Flywheel Reunion, the exotic sales and Long Branch Lake, as well as many other events and locations that give our town its personality.”

QUESTION 9: What is the one area that the city can most improve on and where could if

any, wasteful spending be cut?

KINKHORST: “The city council is implementing a strategic vision plan for the City of Macon which will be a road map to our city’s future success. The city council has eliminated the municipal court and moved the code enforcement office back to city hall in the past year to make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars and will continue to cut wasteful spending wherever it is found.”

LEA: “I think the city is generally doing a good job, given the financial challenges it faces. Unfortunately, there’s not much cushion for unexpected expenses and rising costs when the budget is so tight.”

QUESTION 10: Please feel free to include anything else you would like to say.

KINKHORST: “I believe that Macon can be one of the biggest success stories in Missouri but it will take time and good stewardship to make it happen. I would like to thank the citizens of Macon (especially Ward 1) for the opportunity to serve you on the city council and would appreciate your vote on April 2 to continue moving Macon forward.”

LEA: “I want to represent the citizens of the 1st ward, and I hope they know that they can contact me any time with their concerns. I will do my best to serve their interests. Please exercise your right to vote on April 2nd. I would appreciate your consideration when doing so.”