Candidates make pitches for why they should be elected

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Ward 2, Position 1

Melissa Greene was appointed to council in January 2018 after a seat was vacated by Peg Adamson.

“My husband and I moved here seventeen years ago and own a tourist related business,” Greene said. “I have fourteen years serving on the Historic District Commission, seven years on the Planning Commission, and am a founding board member of the Downtown Network. In addition to currently serving on city council, I am on the boards of the Good Shepherd Humane Society and the Eureka Springs Preservation Society. I volunteer for both extensively.”

Greene said one of her priorities is to build on the financial growth the city is experiencing.

“The city after many years is putting money in reserves and has been able to give city employees raises,” Greene said. “We can start planning for improvements in our infrastructure. I consider it very important to work for the health, safety and wealth of citizens by working closely with economic development so families can live and prosper in Eureka Springs. I will listen to citizens, bring concerns to the table and work to provide respectable, open government. The right ingredients are here for a prosperous, thriving community that I want to be a part of.

“I feel serving in the local government and local charities has been a way of making a difference,” she said. “I would like to continue serving and making a difference for Eureka Springs.”

Restaurateur James DeVito said the main reason he decided to run for office again is the threat posed to residential areas by encroachment of commercial ventures, such as B&Bs, that are granted zoning exceptions by the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process.

“I have been raising this issue for three years and am now encouraged the Planning Commission is looking into eliminating CUPS,” DeVito said. “Unfortunately, members of council, who appear to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, don’t share my position. We are a city of only a couple thousand souls who support an infrastructure of a city ten times our size.

“We need more people to live and work in our community. We have a dwindling work force because rental prices are escalating over too few places to rent. If we lose our identity as a community, based on our inability to provide affordable housing for the people who want to call Eureka Springs home, we lose one of the main reasons people come to visit. We are running out of time to save our neighborhoods. We must eliminate CUPs and strive to provide affordable housing for our community.”

DeVito spent 15 years on the Basin Park Improvement Committee, helped develop the city’s Master Plan, and served five terms on city council.

He said one other goal he hopes to accomplish in the next two years is a focus on much needed infrastructure improvements. He also advocates building a downtown parking garage.

“It is time we reapportioned a part of the CAPC revenue to build a much-needed parking facility for both the Auditorium and the many shops downtown,” DeVito said. “We cannot continue to be successful as a community if we continue to ignore the number one complaint from our guests and locals, ‘Where do I park?’ It’s time we use other tools in the CAPC tool kit and build a parking facility across from the New Delhi on Main Street on the lot already owned by the city. It will provide much needed parking for a 950-seat auditorium which presently has no parking and for all the shops downtown that need more parking. We can do this using only the taxes already being collected by the CAPC with no additional drain on our local resources.”

Ward 3, Position 1

Terry McClung said improving the infrastructure is his number one priority. “It’s all about the town being here another hundred years from now,” McClung, who has served on city council for six years, said. “With the direction we are taking, future councils will follow suit. We have done well to begin on the infrastructure with new water meters across town and repairs to the Main Street storm drains. Additions to the sewer plant are planned that will help it to operate more efficiently.”

McClung has been a real estate broker in Eureka Springs for more than 40 years. He has owned, operated and been affiliated with lodging, food service and retail businesses during that time. He has 20 years as a volunteer fireman, spent several years on the Planning Commission, was a Chamber director, and City Advertising and Promotion Commission board member.

McClung said he is running because community service is an integral part of our community. “It is important to give back, to be involved in your community,” he said.

Joyce Knowles has a career background as a special risk and bond underwriter. Her specialty was insuring large and unusual commercial risks with national and international exposure.

“I primarily protected contractual obligations,” she said. “It was my job to engineer a risk to make it profitable for an insurance company and affordable for the insured. I am not afraid of large, complicated projects.”

Knowles said she supports a lot of charitable and civic projects such as the Granny Fund, Pride events, the Artrageous Parade, the Zombie Crawl, and other local favorites. She said her efforts moved city council meetings out of the jury room to a wheelchair-accessible location and got the meetings recorded and closed captioned for the deaf.

Knowles said she would like to implement a rational billing structure for the water/sewer bill.

“We have a tier system which makes no sense and burdens the conservative user,” she said. “I want to begin the process of getting the roughly 25 percent of citizens who are not yet on the sewer system connected as they are paying inflated water rates to subsidize the sewer. I want to support Public Works department. They are down to three licensed employees and are overtasked and under manned. We need to give them what they need to staunch the water losses locally. We also need to staunch the loss of water we buy from Boone County. Last year the city paid $232,716 for water they couldn’t bill because it was lost before we got it.”

She also wants to revisit the sidewalk ordinance with an eye to incentivizing repairs rather than punishing citizens. “There are other ways to get the sidewalks fixed which are less of a financial burden on property owners and won’t require a tedious and costly sidewalk survey,” she said.

“The city needs to do business in a modern way,” she said. “We can’t continue to work in a sea of paper and file cabinets. Eventually, we will have to automate. I hear city hall decry the expense of something as simple as a searchable city website. Automation reduces cost and we can preserve our city in a modern way.”

Ward 3, Position 2

Harold “Harry” Meyer has been a resident of Eureka for three years, moving from Yellville where he had lived since 1972.

“My daughter and I would come often to Eureka to visit friends and have a meal,” Meyer said. “We would bring our exchange students along. I hosted five exchange students while in Yellville. I was chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party and chairman of the Marion County Election Commission. I was responsible for the redistricting of the county Justice of the Peace districts.”

He also built a manufacturing business that at its peak employed 40 people.

“Believe it or not, I was able to provide 100 percent of my employees’ health insurance,” Meyer said. “Due to health problems and competition from imports, I closed my factory and started a logistics company that I could operate alone.”

Meyer said since he came to the Ozarks with little money or education, and understands the plight of those who work in the service jobs here in town. He said part of the reason he is running is to represent those people.

He said the budget for our town is big, well over $6 million, and complicated. He wants to work with others on the council to manage it better.

“Part of that management is improving the streets and sidewalks and stopping the leaks in the water and sewer lines,” he said. “Those last two items have an impact on everyone including those downstream. Eureka should be concerned about the pollution it creates. I also think the ordinance book needs cleaning up. If an ordinance is being ignored, we may as well delete it.”

The East Mountain area where he lives has no sidewalks to speak of and, in many places, there’s no way to get off the pavement. Some of this will be difficult to fix, but he believes there is plenty of room for sidewalks on many streets, as people in Eureka walk for exercise and to walk their dogs. Without sidewalks, that can be dangerous.

“I was enlisted by my neighbors who, like myself, were concerned about the volume and speed of the traffic that goes through our neighborhood,” Meyer said. “I was encouraged by the way people got together to bring this problem to the attention of the city. This is when I decided that I may want to run for office.”

Eric Knowles said he wants people to vote for him so that he can work for a more rational city government, one that uses facts, expert judgment, and careful analysis to solve problems.

“I will protect your money in ways that the current government has not,” Knowles said. “In March of this year, I informed the mayor and city council that Ordinance 2265 to pay off sewer bonds had a $1,815,000 error in the amortization schedule. In September, I informed the mayor that the revised amortization schedule still had a $15,645 error. I will give the same scrutiny to every expenditure that comes before council.”

Knowles said before he votes to fund a project, he will require that there be a demonstrated need, statutory authority to act, a clear plan with measurable objectives, accurate estimates of costs and benefits, and full consideration of alternative ways to meet the goals. He said city council did not ask these questions when they recently authorized $30,000 to clean up two private yards.

He said he would address:

  • Access for all citizens to city government.
  • Making city documents easily available.
  • The high crime rate in the city, as according to Knowles, City-Data.com says 97 percent of U.S. cities have less crime than Eureka Springs.
  • Improved parking, curb cuts, lighting, and walkable sidewalks downtown.
  • Encouraging and supporting full time residences rather than temporary tourist rentals.
  • Bring reason and equity to sewer and water issues. “Currently 25 percent of the city is not on the sewer system, water users pay 52 percent more than the water costs, and sewer users pay 35 percent less than the sewer costs.”
  • Finding and repairing the water leaks that cost the city nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year.

“I do my homework. I am free from conflicts of interest. I own no business and owe no debts. My sole interest is in bettering the life of this city.

“I was a research psychologist who repeatedly applied for and administered federal research grants, managed large research teams, wrote books and articles, consulted with the U.S government and private companies, and served on the boards of non-profit organizations,” Knowles said.

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