FRED (HOST): It’s Morning Edition on KRPS. I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. We are now 28 days away from municipal and city elections throughout Missouri on Tuesday, April 5. This morning we continue our series of candidate interviews with a newcomer to Joplin city politics. Four years ago, Diane Reid Adams won reelection in Zone Four, which covers the city’s southern portion. To win reelection next month, she’ll face Dr. Mark Farnham. I spoke with Dr. Farnham recently and, as I do with all first-time candidates, asked him to introduce himself to voters.
DR. FARNHAM (GUEST): My name is Mark Farnham, and I’m running for Joplin City council, specifically Zone Four, against Diane Reid Adams, who has held that seat for a number of years. My goal as a city council member is to improve fiscal or financial responsibility and accountability. To become more transparent in that.
Secondly, I am interested in promoting the police and fire operations that we have in Joplin. And thirdly, I’m interested in helping to address the homeless issue that we all face in Joplin.
FRED: Dr. Farnham says that the first way he would improve Joplin’s fiscal responsibility is by allowing for more transparency is to update the city of Joplin’s website so that it is easier to use.
DR. FARNHAM: I think that anyone looking at the Joplin city website might feel that there is not enough detail about the financial operations of the city of Joplin. So one of my goals is to improve the Joplin city website so that anyone can look there and can immediately see where their dollars are. And I think that would help a lot.
The transparency issue that we’re, we’re talking about, and that’s something that I’ve heard from several Joplin voters, is that they simply cannot determine what their tax dollars are being spent on.
FRED: On the topic of the 30 million bond that Joplin residents will be voting on, in addition to city council seats next month, Dr. Farnham has an alternative vision for the site of Memorial Hall.
DR. FARNHAM: There are different ways to look at this. I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, but I’m very black and white on some issues. One of the issues I’m pretty black and white on is that I just don’t want us to face any more taxes than what we’re already paying. So I’m pretty black and white on that. But I also think outside the box sometimes, and as I think of how we can respect our veterans and particularly World War II, those who were from Joplin and surrounding areas who gave their lives, who otherwise served, or may have been injured in World War II, but not just World War II, all of the times in which there have been folks from Joplin who either risked their lives or gave their lives.
So what we’re looking at in Joplin in my view is this, it comes down to this question, no matter how much money is spent on Memorial hall, will it ever really serve the purpose of paying respect to our veterans?
FRED: Farnham admits that if he’s elected, Joplin voters might have already decided and approved the bond by the time he’s sworn into office. For him, the issue is how does the city want to pay its respect to veterans?
DR. FARNHAM: To me, a better idea is to have a beautiful outdoor setting with the names of our servicemen and servicewomen permanently etched into marble or granite stones, which are beautiful and polished and with wide walkways and landscaping, and not only the World War II veterans but also. World War I, the Korean conflict, Vietnam war, the Iraq wars, et cetera.
I think that we could pay respect to all of our veterans that way. Yes, it would cost several million dollars to do an outdoor, beautiful outdoor facility like that, but it would actually serve to pay respect to our, rather than sinking a much larger amount of money into an old building, which has not been maintained.
FRED: Every candidate has a different story when it comes to the reason or reasons why they decide to run for office. For Dr. Farnham, he marks that day to what Joplin is likely most widely known for, Sunday, May 22, 2011.
DR. FARNHAM: My own personal motivation for this probably comes out of the Joplin tornado. Believe it or not. All those years ago, I worked in a hospital for over 30 hours straight without sleep. Finally, I was basically told that we had enough help and I could go home. But Instead, I got in my pickup truck, and I drove through the streets of Joplin.
And when I saw the destruction and thought about the impact on people’s lives, I literally cried. I had tears running down my face as I thought about the impact on individuals and families. And that, I think, was the springboard for the city council as long ago as it was. And let me tell you why that was the springboard because that’s when I realized how much I love Joplin at the Joplin tornado is what made me understand that I really cared about Joplin.
And before that, I didn’t really think about it. You know, I knew that I liked Joplin, that I liked the people here, that I enjoy living here. But it was a Joplin tornado that made me realize that I was devoted to Joplin.
FRED: I conclude every candidate interview by asking the candidate to make their best pitch and why they deserve to be elected?
DR. FARNHAM: Well, I’m going to be responsible to them, to the voters. I’m an idealist in some ways. And one of my ideals is that the wishes of the voters should be recognized. But I can tell you that those three things that we talked about, the police and fire, the, uh, fiscal financial responsibility, and the homeless situation, those three things are already on the hearts and minds of most Joplin voters.
I’m when I tell people those things; I’m telling people things that they already know about that they’re already concerned about. They’ve already thought about. So I don’t have to convince people to be aware of those things or to feel that those things are important because they already know that.
And so I think what the Joplin voters to me, in my opinion, the Joplin voters are looking for someone to vote for who already represents them. And so I don’t have to convince them of these issues. They don’t have to convince me of these issues. We’re already together on it.
FRED: Dr. Mark Farnham is running in Zone Four against incumbent councilmember Diane Reid Adams. To hear this interview again and to find out more about Dr. Farnham and his campaign, visit my news blogs at krpsnews.com. I have reached out to Mrs. Reid-Adams on two occasions to take part in an interview regarding her candidacy, and she has not responded. For 89 9 KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro