On Tuesday, in the April General Election, Neosho residents will select two Council members for a 3-year term. Three candidates are running, William Doubek, incumbent, Angela Thomas, currently appointed to the council, and Robb Birch, all of Neosho.

The Neosho Daily News sat down with the candidates with six questions to help voters know each candidate and their platforms.

NDN: Share with our readers why you chose to run for a seat on the Neosho City Council.

BIRCH: My answer hasn’t changed in the time I have been attending our Council meetings. There are more of us, like myself, who seem content sitting around with coworkers and friends, arguing how much better the government at all levels could be run than people willing to take on the responsibility.

DOUBEK: Most importantly, I love this town and want to make it an even better place! I raised my kids here. Now I have grandchildren. I want them to grow, learn and love here in Neosho! This is the last chapter in my life. Serving on the City Council is NOT a stepping stone for me to do something higher. I am retired and have all the time needed to serve my town. I desire to use the past three years of experience on the City Council to even better serve the people of Neosho, the people we call family!

THOMAS: Running for city council is a way for me to serve my community. The city of Neosho is a

vibrant community in a beautiful setting that has great potential for growth. I want to do all that

I can to contribute to this community in a positive manner. Serving on city council will enable

me to see firsthand both the potential and the needs of Neosho and to help work toward

growth while still helping to keep that small Hometown feeling. I want to encourage more

citizens to participate in the decisions that are made for our city.

NDN: Tell our readers why a voter should choose you for a seat on the council.

DOUBEK: I have had the privilege of serving the City of Neosho as a councilman for the last three years. We have accomplished so much but there is so much more to do. I know the issues, challenges and needs of the city! What they truly are, having already worked on them. There is no down time learning what needs to done, what has been done, what we can do to accomplish more. I have been your councilman. Please allow me to serve even more!

THOMAS: I was appointed to the recent vacancy and have been serving on the city council since

January. I am working hard to learn the workings of our city and as a 30-year resident and

local business owner I feel I can do a good job in serving the city of Neosho.

BIRCH: This is an answer that has not only remained unchanged for me, but character that should never change. Our leadership, our city leadership, our state leadership and especially our federal leadership must primarily be stewards, first to our communities and then to each of us individually as our elected representatives.

NDN: What are your goals if elected?

THOMAS: If elected my goals are to listen to the needs and desires of the citizens. I will work to maintain and improve the conditions of the city and promote growth and new ideas to keep our city

vibrant and growing. My goal is to keep our city a place where people want to visit, live, work,

and start businesses.

DOUBEK: My first goal is to work at winning the confidence of our populace. Not just for me personally but for the entire council. Secondly, I will work toward developing as professional a staff in all offices of City Hall as possible, under the direction of our new City Manager, who just recently completed his PhD in management. I will assist in improving the current financial status of Neosho. Infrastructure improvements are a goal as well. This is to meet the needs of the citizens and to bring in new business.

BIRCH: Right now our number one priority is addressing our nearly 64% water loss and should be the concern of everyone. Our Public Works Department is taking the right initiative and working diligently, but they need the support of everyone in fixing a problem that should save Neosho money once remedied.

NDN: What do you see as the current state of the city?

BIRCH: Not without issues, but strong. Our last Council Meeting we received our annual financial audit, it was another year of being commended for being among the healthiest smaller municipalities reviewed. We're nothing without financially responsibility and I cannot thank the employees in Neosho's financial department enough for what they do.

DOUBEK: The current state of the city is very good. Look in every direction and you will find new housing construction to meet current needs and population growth. Corporations currently in Neosho are planning expansions. New businesses are looking at the possibilities of moving here. People are settling here. The population is growing. As a City, we have history that should be touted and shared. I am exceptionally happy with the direction the City of Neosho is traveling. I am proud of our City and the City Council over the past three years.

THOMAS: The city is poised to make some great changes. The state of our city is one ready to face the

challenge before us. We will need to make some changes in past practices, and find

solutions to challenges that can not be set aside. Those serving on the council and the

citizens of our city will come together to work on our water issues and infrastructure and

continue to make decisions that are best for Neosho.

NDN: Provide a brief bio so our readers can know more about you.

DOUBEK: Currently, I serve on the Neosho City Council. As such, there are three boards on which I represent the City. The Senior Center (I am old enough to attend the Center as well as currently being the oldest member on the City Council), the TDD (Tax Development District) and the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board. Before the City sold the Recreation Center to the Neosho School District, I served on that Board for several years, chairing it for two of them. I am presently a Law Enforcement Chaplain for the Newton County Sheriff's Office and the Neosho Police Department. In the past, I served on the Chamber of Commerce, representing the Ministerial Alliance/Clergy Coalition. I was also a member of the YMCA Board of Directors. I have been an ordained clergyman of the Lutheran Missouri Synod for 34 years this year. Prior to retirement three years ago, I pastored First Lutheran Church of Neosho for 17 and a half years. I am married with three adult children and four grandchildren. I hold a B.A. in Sociology/Law Enforcement, an M.Div in Practical Theology and an earned doctorate in Homiletics. Before all of this, I served in law enforcement for two years and eight days in the U.S. Air Force as a military working dog handler serving two Vietnam tours of duty. Currently I am the only military veteran serving as a City Councilman.

THOMAS: I have lived in Neosho for 30 years, I worked 16 years for a local utility company and have

owned my own business for the last 15 years.

I have served in various community organizations including Soroptimist International, P.E.O.,

and Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce. I have served as past president of both Soroptimist

International and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce.

I am a graduate of Crowder College.

I raised my children here in Neosho and my granddaughter attends Neosho Jr High.

I love my community and have a desire to serve the citizens as a way of giving back.

BIRCH: I moved to Neosho in 2002 for a girl, we celebrate our 15th anniversary this April. We have one child, but have been blessed to be involved in the lives of many others. I manage Griffith Credit Sales and have been a store manager most of my time in Neosho.

NDN: What do you see as the main challenges or priorities in Neosho?

BIRCH: A key area is our fiscal stewardship moving forward. We are growing as a City, and this will assuredly present new challenges, but we must face them with the mindset that every dollar spent belongs to a taxpayer and every dollar matters no matter what challenge we might be facing.

Another is communication. Both personally as residents, and as a City. We have to get people engaged in the direction that our city is going. Attending council meetings and community forums as well as just staying informed and discussing it in our day to day lives.

THOMAS: Our city is a close community filled with citizens that have a vision for growth. As with any city there are challenges that come with growth and with time. The city is facing some issues with their water system and we will need to work hard to resolve those issues. As with any city there are always maintenance issues with our public facilities and infrastructure. These challenges always take money which in itself is a challenge. I know that Neosho citizens are up to these challenges and by working together Neosho can meet these challenges and continue to be a strong vibrant community.

DOUBEK: The city's water and wastewater systems have major issues due to deferred maintenance of the years. The city is not covering enough finances to cover operational expenses. Our City must address its financial shortage that hurts the operations necessary. This affects our budget needs. We have annex issues to address. We need to improve our streets as well. There are properties that are in serious need of repair or removal. Police and Fire Department need to grow and have all the equipment necessary to fulfill their responsibilities. Pay increases for city employees must be addressed. As I stated at the beginning, the City Council must do everything possible to build a sound, professional management team under the direction of our City Manager. I hope to be a part of the team as a city councilman serving the people and businesses of Neosho.