Council interviews mayoral candidates

Mayoral Candidates

LDR photo/Steve Smith

The six people who have applied to serve as Lebanon mayor take questions from the city council during a work session Thursday night.

By: 
STEVE SMITH ◆ SSMITH@LEBANONDAILYRECORD.COM

The six people who applied to serve as Lebanon’s next mayor shared their thoughts on city government during a public interview with the Lebanon City Council Thursday night.

The city council had asked for applicants to fill the mayor’s position, which has been vacant since the resignation of Josh Ray in June. The candidates were then invited to the public work session to answer questions about how they would lead the city.

At the end of meeting, Mayor Pro Tem LeAnn Mather thanked the candidates for coming and said the council hoped to make a decision “in the relatively near future.”
The six people applying for the job are Mark Blackburn,  Jared Carr,  Vincent Joubert III, Vickie Lopeman, William Morris and Chase Waggoner.

Blackburn works for Emerson Climate Technologies and is a retired U.S. Army veteran.  

He said he came to Lebanon to live because it had all the amenities he wanted and the cost of living was cheap compared to the Fort Leonard Wood area.

“(When) all the turmoil that was going on with the previous mayor and city administrator,” Blackburn said. “In my mind, that should never take place in an area like this.”

Blackburn told the council he was able to talk with people and guide them as a leader. One of his goals would be to beautify the downtown and other areas.
Jared Carr works as chief financial officer of Carmeco, Inc. in Lebanon. Carr said he applied to serve as mayor because “I’ve always tried to give back to the community that’s given me so much.”

Carr told councilmen he had employees who could handle day-to-day tasks to free up his time to serve as mayor.

His memberships include the local Rotary Club and has served on the Laclede County Foundation Library Board and on some national trade organizations.
He was also asked about the characteristics he would like to see in a city administrator.

“I would relate this to how our business is run with the city administrator being the day-to-day, putting out the fires, that kind of person, and the mayor overseeing that and city administrator getting direction from the council and the mayor oversees what you guys want, which is what the citizens want,” Blackburn said.

Chase Waggoner works for a health care firm in Richland and has past government experience, including four years on the Lebanon City Council from 2006 to 2010 and work as a staffer for the Missouri legislature.

Waggoner said he had wanted to apply for city administrator, but has always wanted to serve as mayor.

“In fact when I was on council in my early 20s I was too young by state statute to run for mayor,” he said.

Waggoner said the mayor’s job calls for someone with experience.
"I thought we needed someone who had been in that seat before, who had been in city government, had experience in that and would be able to hit the ground running,” he said.

He said the city will need to achieve a good balance for the roles of the mayor, council, city administrator and staff.

“I love my hometown and I want to see it heal and I want to see us get back to where we could be proud of being from Lebanon,” he said.

He also told the council that he has a full-time job, but should be able to get time off to handle the mayor’s duties. He also said the mayor should be compensated better because of the time involved.

“I believe with Lebanon’s mayor being a part-time position it’s unfair to the working men and women of this city that there’s an expectation you have to be independently wealthy or self-employed to be able to be mayor,” he said.

William Morris works part-time at the Lebanon Ozarks Community Technical College in security.

He said one of the city’s biggest challenges is the capital improvements and transportation tax. Morris said it would require advertising, one-on-one visits, and explaining the purpose of the tax to the public.

“People here are willing to pay a little extra tax if it’s necessary.” Morris said.
Morris said he would “do the very best I can do” to put in the time necessary to serve as mayor.

He also said his background in psychology would help him work well with people.
Vickie Lopes said she had worked for 30 years in the medical field taking care of people. She said she has been back on Lebanon for six and a half years.

“It’s a wonderful place,” she said. “There’s wonderful people here of all kinds. I’m totally thrilled to be back home.”

She explained why she wanted to be mayor.

“We’ve got to respect each other” she said. “We ‘ve got  to listen to each other. We don’t always agree, none of us do, on everything, but we need to listen.”

She said the new city administrator hired by the city will need to be respectful, truthful and honest.

Vincent Joubert III said he worked in the music industry be and has now come home to Lebanon where he was raised.

He explained why he wanted to be mayor.

“I love this town and this town would grow exponentially if people would just get on board to say, this is a great town to be in and just town has a lot of opportunity,” Joubert said. “We have Route 66, we have Bennett Springs, we have some of the most beautiful parks. We have everything we need to be a great town except a mayor that believes in this town.”

Asked about the role of the mayor and city administrator, Joubert said he was willing to compromise and meet people halfway.

“As long as I can represent the people and try to do what’s best for the people, that’s where I stand,” Joubert said.

Following the interview, a reception was held where citizens were able to talk with the candidates one on one.

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