First in a series of interviews with the candidates.
The Villager Journal submitted questions to incumbent mayor Pepper Martin of Ash Flat and his challenger, Alderman Brien Nix Hall. Hall did not return his questionnaire. Following are Martin's responses:
VJ: As the county seat and the city with the largest tax base among the Quad Cities, what should Ash Flat do to ease the county's budget woes?
Martin: Sharp County currently receives 1 cent of every dollar spent in Ash Flat. By continuing to attract new business and industries to locate in Ash Flat, we will ensure that those monies increase.
VJ: In what ways can Ash Flat work in cooperation with the other cities in the Quad Cities? Specifically, should the cities pool resources and combine some functions such as police and fire protection?
Martin: The city of Ash Flat will continue to honor the mutual aide agreement that has existed between all of our neighboring cities. If any of the Quad Cities request aide, the Ash Flat police and fire departments respond, and they do the same.
VJ: In your opinion, what is the most needed change in Ash Flat and what do you propose as a solution?
Martin: Ash Flat has accomplished so much in the last eight years that this is a hard question to answer. I believe that providing our young people with good jobs is the next challenge we face. The best solution to this is continuing to work hard to attract more industries and businesses to our city.
VJ: What is the biggest asset you will bring to the office of mayor of Ash Flat?
Martin: The biggest asset I bring to Ash Flat is 10 years of experience, two years as a city alderman and eight years as your Mayor. In those eight years as your mayor many changes have taken place in Ash Flat. Most you can see. The things you don't see are numerous -- the working relationship between your mayor and your city employees, the 60 to 80 hours monthly spent checking on job sites, talking to employees daily about keeping your city running, and most importantly talking to you, the citizens of Ash Flat. Being mayor now requires being here, in town, daily. Can Mr. Hall be here? Will his present employer allow him the amount of time it takes to keep Ash Flat progressing? If not, who gets the short end of the stick? We need to keep going forward as a city, not backwards.