Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a four-part series that previews individual Joplin City Council races ahead of the June 2 election.
Three candidates are vying for a Zone 2 seat on the Joplin City Council.
The seat will be vacated by veteran council member Melodee Colbert-Kean, who chose not to seek reelection in what now will be June 2 balloting.
Candidates are Harvey Hutchinson, Chuck Copple and Jim Scott.
Scott, 71, has lived in Joplin for 65 years. He is an electronic circuit design engineer and president of Scott Electronic Systems Inc. in Joplin. He has not sought public office before.
Copple, 49, has lived in Joplin for 26 years. He is a retired firefighter and is employed as a senior field representative for Verisk. He has not sought public office before.
Hutchinson, who did not give his age, has lived in Joplin 17 years. He has been an international business consultant for 40 years, operating his own company, Arvada. He has run for City Council twice before.
Scott decided to run because he wanted to promote more industrial and manufacturing development in the city. Scott said he is "all about Joplin" but as a business owner has not had time to serve before. He said he now has the available time to devote to city duties. His great-grandfather was Joplin's first elected mayor, he said.
Copple said he wanted to run to bring more transparency to council business, giving residents more voice and opportunities to ask questions and make comments on city proposals. As a retired firefighter and battalion chief employed by the city, he said he wants employees to feel they have someone on council on their side. He said he has been vocal at a number of council meetings and now wants to be part of the solution for city issues.
Hutchinson said that with his business experience, he feels he could bring sound business practices to the city government, that he is concerned about law and order, and also wants to maintain family values.
Asked what issues the candidates foresee in the next four years, Copple said that public safety will continue to be a concern. He said the the passage of Proposition B, a half-cent sales tax to close out the underfunded police and fire pension fund and move some of those employees to a state pension plan is only the first step in solving public safety recruitment and retention issues.
Copple also wants to be sure that there is enough funding in the Joplin Health Department to address a rising hepatitis A outbreak, particularly among the homeless. He also wants to assure adequate city infrastructure for job growth and skilled employees, as well as put in place methods to expand and nurture current businesses.
Hutchinson wants to encourage recruitment of more industry and job development to contribute to an increased sales tax base, which is being eroded by the lack of e-commerce or use tax, he said.
All of the candidates said they support a use tax or e-commerce tax.
Scott said that over the next four years, finding ways to pay for the maintenance of the city's infrastructure should be a priority. He said he also would consider projects that residents have told him are needed, including neighborhood cleanups, more enforcement of property maintenance codes and the need for a local conference center.