INTERVIEW WAS EDITED FOR CLARITY.
FRED (HOST): It’s Morning Edition on KRPS. I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. This morning we continue our series of candidate profiles covering the Joplin city council elections. Absentee voting has opened; in-person voting takes place Tuesday, April 5. Today we turn our attention to Jon Buck. He’s running against Doug Lawson, Kate Spencer, Josh DeTar, and Brian Evans for one of three general council seats. Like I do all candidates, I first asked Jon to introduce themselves to voters.
JON (GUEST): My name is Jon Thomas Buck. I was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. My parents still have the same house that I was taken home from the hospital in. This place has always been home for me. Throughout my travels, I’ve traveled the world from Africa to Europe, Central America to the Caribbean islands, and this has always been home to me, coming back here. You know, bringing my ideas from all of my travels here to see what some places do right and how to bring that back here and make Joplin the best it can be.”
FRED: Jon is a business owner and was prompted to enter the race because he feels his hometown is at a crossroads.
JON: “I just believe that it’s a very critical time in our city’s history, to be honest with you. Moving forward, we need to have some stuff addressed. We need to bring Joplin to the 21st century on how we operate. We need to update our city plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2021. What that looks like, I don’t know, but I know that it needs to happen. Especially with passing the infrastructure bill for us to move forward to make sure that we can get that investment in our community. We’ve got to make sure that we have a plan for it.”
FRED: If elected, Jon says that he would work to improve the connectedness of the community. As someone who runs a business on 7th street and other companies in the community, he says Joplin needs to improve to attract new businesses. That includes Joplin’s roads, sidewalks, and trails.
JON: Connectivity. Really I want to see something done with the connectivity of our community because the walkability of a community is the blood flow of our community; you don’t see a lively community not moving. That and street lights that’s really big on my radar because you want to bring light to our community, especially the ones that have a problem with some drugs and stuff like that in our community. So I want to take that head-on. I want to try and create some kind of solution for our unhoused community. I want to take another look at that and see how we can help there. And try to make Joplin the easiest city for people that want to start their own business and can do so.”
FRED: In addition to city council elections on Tuesday, April 5, Joplin residents will also decide the fate of a 30-million-dollar bond that will essentially determine the future of Memorial Hall. Jon supports the passage of the bond, saying the city needs it.
JON: “The bond issue is going to come help with that, and I believe that we do need that here. We do need to have the Memorial Hall. To investment money in that and to subsidize some kind of entertainment to help complete with the multimillion dollar entertainment facilities that set right outside our city limits. We need to invest in that. Because you have to spend money to make money, that’s the number one rule of business. We have to do that.
Investing in that structure that gives us the feasibility to be able to do that. To be able to bring that centralized energy downtown and the heart of Joplin. Because any city that is vibrant, healthy and happy to live in they have that great downtown and they have staple, like the BOK Center in Tulsa, or the Brady theater, they have something to centralized around. Between that and the Cornell Center being built right now, that would be a good hub to complement each other.”
FRED: As a business owner, Jon says that if elected, he would bring that point of view and improve the culture of business in the community.
JON: “I think we can have some personal training. City hall needs to be able to walk hand in hand with businesses in our community, not put hurdles in the way. I mean, (we need people) to come here to work together, and work with people who want to open up businesses in Joplin, not make it seem impossible. Because our city hall in Joplin is not very user friendly.”
FRED: I close out every candidate interview by asking for their best pitch to voters and why they should be elected.
JON: “I want to give it my best. I mean, that’s all I can really say. I’m not going to make any outlandish promises, but I mean, I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to give full effort to try to push Joplin forward. Because if we’re not progressing, then we’re dying.”
FRED: Jon Buck is running for one of three general council seats on the Joplin city council. The candidates with the two highest tally of votes will be awarded four-year terms, while the third-place finishes will earn a two-year term.
For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro