Joplin City Council candidate Brian Evans, improve fire and police, input from Veterans regarding Memorial Hall if elected

FRED (HOST): We are a little more than a month away from municipal and city elections in Missouri on Tuesday, April 5. This morning we continue our series focused on the race for Joplin city council. Today we hear from Brian Evans. He’s one of five candidates running for one of the three general council openings. The two individuals with the highest vote totals receive four-year terms. The candidate who comes in third earns a two-year term. As I do with every candidate, I first asked Brian to introduce himself to voters.

Brian Evans

BRIAN (GUEST): “Well, my name is Brian Evans. I’m running for Joplin city council. I am a teacher in the Joplin school district. I work at McKinley elementary. I have lived here for almost 20 years. I grew up right outside of Joplin in Neosho and moved here and got married and had kids and kind of this kind of became my home.

FRED: Brian is a lifetime resident of southwest Missouri who is concerned about higher crimes in Joplin. If elected, he says that he’ll bring increased emphasis on police and fire services.

BRIAN: “Well, one of the biggest things that I’ve been concerned about is the safety and security of our community. I’ve seen the crime rate property crime rate has skyrocketed to where it’s more than double what the state average is. And the violent crime rate is even higher than the state average. And between the two of those, I said that got me interested in finding out more.

And so I started looking and realized that our police department was heavily underfunded. And the last time I checked it was 37, I’m not sure what the number is, officer’s short. And so that’s become a major problem. I just did a ride along last week with the police and got to see firsthand some of the things going on, the homelessness that’s going on throughout the community and all those things kind of spurred me into realizing, after talking to the city council numerous times, I decided there’s a time for talking to time for action.

I decided now’s the time for me to help do something.

FRED: The issue of homelessness in a community is often a hot button issue that community members rally around to solve. Or a very touchy subject where the residents feel it has been adequately addressed. Brian sees the subject as a way to bring together public and private interests.

BRIAN: “I’ve seen some cities try to tackle it themselves with the government trying to tackle it. Not that never goes well. The best way I’ve seen that cities have been able to handle it and try to get it under control is working with local organizations. There is a number of organizations here in town, Watered Gardens and some others of Vita Nova village is one that I’ve heard a lot about recently and talked to them about, and it seems like a gap that’s missing because there’s a severe low-income, affordable housing in Joplin that is not here.

“Everything skyrocketed in price. And so that creates a lot of potential homelessness with people who are on edge. And, and so I would like to get together with groups, even schools and the police department and others that can kind of catch those people and also try to figure out how to help those that are already on the streets.

FRED: Brian is also concerned about the fire department and its capability to retain employees, and that burnout is a problem.

BRIAN: “I talked to the fire department. To talk to the fire union actually, they said that they are working multiple shifts. They’re short, also working multiple shifts, but they had their time and a half pay cut for working those extra shifts. So, the men are exhausted.

They’re having a hard time keeping them on the, you know, the fire department. And so, it’s a big problem with both departments.

FRED: In addition to casting ballots for city council members on Tuesday, April 5, residents will also determine the fate of a 30-million-dollar bond to rehab and improve Memorial Hall. Brian says that he’s reached out to local veterans’ groups to get their input.

BRIAN: “I’ve had a number of people ask me; I’ve called the American Legion to try to find out some of their opinions. Cause um, I started learning more about it in the last few months as it’s become a kind of a hot topic. I have some heavy concerns about it because, the Memorial Hall is a, well now it’s a $30 million project because the parking lot, they’re gonna have to buy up buildings around it.

And with inflation and the cost of goods and services and building expenses and everything. I’m not quite sure that it’s actually going to be able to pass. People aren’t willing to, I don’t think part with more property tax. So that concerns me. So, I was wanting to try to find out if, if that’s the case then, and I make it on the city council, that’s going to be falling on my lap to, deal with.

And so that’s what I’d like to see at that point, If, if it doesn’t pass, we need to find other alternatives. Grants, which we’d have to work with private organizations to try to get grants, and other options, but whatever happens, the veterans need to be involved 100% and, the future, because it really has to do with honoring them is what Memorial Hall was built for in the 1920s.

FRED: According to Brian, whether the bond passes is personal. His father is a veteran, and the community must remember our military’s sacrifices regardless of the conflict. Finally, we close our conversation with his best pitch to voters and why a Joplin resident should cast a ballot for him.

BRIAN: “Well, the biggest reason I would like, I think the people would be interested in voting for me is if they vote for me, I’m going to be fighting to try to clean up the street. The drugs they’re on the streets. Cause there’s a huge influx of drugs coming from, the Southern border and up by 44.”

“And we’re one of the big drop-offs for a lot of drugs. That’s a big one. Crime, try to eliminate crime by supporting our police and fire. And just to make the local businesses more successful by doing whatever we can to help them, especially local small businesses. Cause they were really, really hurt under the closures of all the businesses here in town during the pandemic and, and we really need to work to help them.”

“And so that’s, if they vote for me, that’s what I’m going to be fighting for.”

FRED: Brian Evans is one of five candidates running to fill three open seats on the Joplin city council.

Jon Buck, Josh DeTar, Kate Spencer, and Doug Lawson are also running for a general council seat. Absentee voting has already opened. In-person voting takes place Tuesday April 5.

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