This week, I conclude my series of interviews with Ward I city council candidates. I spoke with incumbent Jim Neighbor via email and challenger Charles Macheers in person. Local elections are Tuesday, April 3.
What is your daytime profession?
Retired Airline Captain, United Airlines, and 34 years. Mandatory retirement age 60.
How old are you?
I’m 68 years old. …
How long have you been a city council member?
Why did you first want to run for city council?
In 2010, I wrote that we are 36, (now 38), year residents of Ward I. We could have lived anywhere in the country, but Shawnee is home. My goal if elected is to maintain, promote, to all who will listen, what a wonderful place Shawnee is to live and raise a family. I want to listen to the ideas and thoughts of all council members, and then through open and honest communication, the council can craft the best possible direction and policies for the future growth and prosperity for Shawnee. This goal is unchanged in 2012.
Have you achieved those goals?
Yes. I have enjoyed the last two years on the governing body, its return to civility, and the accomplishments we’ve made. There is more work to do, and I’m ready to work to continue moving Shawnee forward with our excellent services and fiscal stability.
How have you been campaigning?
Print media, phone, mail, and lots and lots of knocking on doors.
How much do you expect to spend on you campaign?
My current expenditures are on file at the Jonson County Election office per state statute.
What is your platform for this year’s election?
a. Infrastructure repair of buildings and roads in a timely and prudent manner as recourses allow.
b. Continued due diligence in monitoring all revenues and costs, recharging our reserves, maintain our AA1 Credit rating (192nd highest in the U.S.) while providing the services and amenities that make Shawnee a wonderful place to live.
c. Economic development. Through the use of the newly established Economic Development Fund, we need to help existing businesses to grow, attract new business to existing spaces and create the infrastructure in our open spaces to attract major development to raise the commercial tax base.
d. Continue to do more with less. Accomplish a & b while still providing the level of city services and amenities that make Shawnee the 17th Most Livable City in the U.S., [according to] Money Magazine.
e. Maintain our sound fiscal policy and reserve position, currently 51 percent of General Fund Revenues.
f. Continue to balance the needs of our older and newer neighborhoods to maintain our “Shawnee Quality of Life.” This includes our parks, bicycle trails and all infrastructure needs of Ward one which in turn maintains a higher city assessed valuation, i.e. property values.
What do your critics say about you?
I’ve lived on this planet for almost 70 years with a very firm set of beliefs and values that have served me well.
What makes you a better candidate than your challenger?
After two years on the city council, I am even more committed to promotion to all who will listen, what a wonderful place Shawnee is to live, raise a family and do business. I have prepared for council meetings with the same diligence to detail for all pertinent information as I did preparing for each flight in my 34-year airline career. I have brought my professional training, experience dealing with people, problem recognition and solving skills to the Council Chambers helping to re-establish respect and civility among the governing body, and it’s perception among citizens and the business community. I also have graduated from the Shawnee Leadership Tomorrow program, our community’s citizen development program and the Shawnee Citizen Police Academy. Both of these programs have given me an even more in depth understanding of our city with my 38 years of living in Shawnee.
What is your day time profession?
How old are you?
How have you been promoting your campaign?
I’ve been walking door to door, and I leave one of these [pamphlets] at houses when they’re not home. I also have a website, www.macheers.com, and I have yard signs and I have a Facebook page for the campaign.
How much do you expect to spend on your campaign?
Probably about $2,000.
How difficult do you expect it to be to beat the incumbent?
From the research I’ve done and from the people I’ve talked to, I feel like I’m very well positioned to prevail in the campaign.
What made you want to run for city council?
I’m an attorney so I’ve always had an interest in the law and government and how they relate to people as individuals and people have been asking me to run for several years.
What concerns do you have about the city government?
I think Shawnee is a great place to live. It’s got great schools. I think it’s important for any city to be a good steward of its resources, especially in a down economy and I think with my legal background and my corporate experience, I’m a superior candidate to help the city do that.
What would you do differently than the incumbent?
… There’s a few things the city did in the last few years that citizens didn’t agree with. I would try to bring back a little more transparency into the city government. I would make sure the city is being as efficient as it can be with its resources.
Has the incumbent done a good job in their position?
I met him at a city council meeting, and I think he’s a good person, but I think I have more qualifications to be a city council member.
What is the city doing well?
Like I said, Shawnee is a great place to live. It’s got a really low crime rate; it’s got a great system of parks and trails. I think they’re doing a good job of growing the western part of Shawnee.
If you could narrow down to three things you would like to see changed, what would they be?
Number one, we need to make sure there is a more hospitable place for small business and for businesses that are thinking of opening in Shawnee. Like if there’s a national chain … we need to make sure the tax rate is on par with the rest of the metropolitan area. This will ensure we keep our storefronts full of business. [What] I’d like to see, number three, is if we could make the government as transparent as it was before.
What would you change to make government more transparent?
I’d like to look into bringing back written meeting minutes. The thing with the sound bites is a city council meeting can be an hour long or four hours long. … You can’t tell who’s talking and it’s not searchable. … You can’t keep tabs on your city council member to where as before, you could look for your city council member and see what they did.
You stated many people had been asking you to run for office. Why do you think that is?
They know I have a strong interest in the government, and they know I’m an attorney. I took some political science classes and took some public law and public administration courses. … I have a strong background in zoning and real estate law.
Is there anything else you would like to say or tell to voters?
I work for a Fortune 100 company, purchasing multi-million dollar software packages so I’m comfortable working with multi-million dollar companies. … I’m a strong negotiator and I can negotiate with large groups and obtain favorable contract terms for the city that way.