Carthage Council Ward 4 candidates answer questions at March 29 forum

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Carthage City Council Ward 4 Candidates pictured from left, Aaron McDonald and Ed Hardesty. John Hacker / CNO

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Three candidates will appear on the ballot for the two-year term as representing Ward 4 on the Carthage City Council in the April 5, 2022 election, but one has withdrawn his name and will not be able to serve if elected.

Incumbent Craig Diggs submitted his resignation from the Council on March 31, 2022. The two remaining candidates are Ed Hardesty and Aaron McDonald

The two answered questions at a candidate forum hosted by the Carthage Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

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Here are their two-minute answers in the order they answered the questions at the forum:

Briefly tell us about yourself?

  • Ed Hardesty

I’m 65 years old and I’m married to my lovely wife Kara for the past 16 and a half years. I have four grown children, they stayed in the Pacific Northwest where I was born and raised and I lived until I was 52. I retired after a nearly-30 year career in the fire department. I was an urban-based professional firefighter in a city of about 65,000 people. I retired in 2010. When we moved to Carthage it was 2010 I retired with the rank of Captain, Fire Investigator, inspector. In 2013, Kara and I founded and own Mother Road Coffee. For almost eight years we enjoyed meeting everybody there that came in and enjoyed the international travelers that came through. It was quite an experience making espresso for French folks and German folks that know their coffee, however we were from near Seattle so it kind of made sense. We both incredibly love Carthage. When we moved here we were immediately accepted and welcomed into groups and welcomed by neighbors. One of my neighbors was Tom Flanigan, a state representative at the time, catty-cornered through our back yard. I didn’t know that, his wife came over and gave us some cookies and she gave us their phone number on the back of a business card. We put it up on the refrigerator and didn’t look at it. One day it fell off and I picked up the business card and it said Tom Flanigan, State Representative and I said whoah. I love Carthage so much, I was on the council from 2011 to 2015 and I left with a minor medical problem. I resigned at the time and I would like to be elected and serve again.

  • Aaron McDonald

I’ve lived 14 non-consecutive years in Carthage and I used to work for City Taxi for a while. I have a masters in biblical counseling and the reason I was running is learning that all education is inherently religious. Every system of thought submits to an ultimate authority, it could be the bottom , one’s own mind, the majority of minds, intersectionality, experts, etc. If one system of thought is drawing money from the state for its funding then one has a state-run church even if it claims neutrality because the information is based on what it claims to know according to a given world view, therefore it’s unconstitutional to make compulsory funding for public education.

 What makes you the best candidate to be elected to the office you seek?

  • Aaron McDonald

Why am I the best candidate? On paper you’d probably say the other two because you’ve got basically two incumbents, one of them has worked and one’s called the mayor a crook for not following the guidelines, which I think is awesome. Then you’ve got this one who didn’t show up but was part of standing against mask mandates and such, which I’m good with. Probably the reason that I would be the best one would be system of thought in the function of government. I believe in whenever you interpret the Constitution the Bill of Rights supersedes everything else and I also believe that God has an ordained system of government to where the government has certain roles, churches have certain roles and the family has certain roles and they’re not supposed to intersect and encroach on each other.

  • Ed Hardesty

I don’t know that I’m necessarily the best candidate but I am very passionate about Carthage and I do love the town and I love being one of its ambassadors and cheerleaders. As I said, I am retired so I can devote lots of time to the position without any sort of time commitments to another job. I have extensive history and training from the fire department and that has forced me over the years to become a very concessive problem solver. That’s usually our job, you show up you’ve got the problem, you figure out the solution and you do it. Many of those times have been under ridiculously stressful conditions so I think that translates well to being on city council and at times being a target.

A serious topic that is being discussed  the city is the replacement of the three North Garrison Street bridges. The projected price tag is $30 million to replace these bridges. Is this a priority for the city and how should it be funded?

  • Ed Hardesty

I believe it should be a large priority because of the history of Carthage. Of course that’s one of the things I love about the town. Route 66 was just designated a national historic trail and that gave Route 66 an important boost for tourism and tourism dollars. The intersection, as Mr. Flanigan mentioned, the intersection of Route 66, Central Avenue, and Garrison Avenue, Route 71, and that’s Jefferson Highway was nicknamed the Crossroads of America. Jefferson Highway isn’t as famous as Route 66, it stretches from New Orleans to Alberta Canada. It’s very broken up and been bypassed numerous times but it still has a large historic value and it has interest to travelers and tourists, especially ones from Europe who are looking to see part of Americana. How it should be funded is beyond the decision making process of any single person. It’s very convoluted, it’s very complicated. Councils have sweated over this issue for years and years, they continue to struggle with it. They’re exploring many avenues and possibly we could extend our research into additional grants and additional ways to fund it. As everyone said, we can’t so it will need to be a large decision, city council, citizens, everybody altogether.

  • Aaron McDonald

Road repairs are a legitimate function of government, Deuteronomy 19:3. It is a priority due to structural integrity concerns of the bridges. One of the things I’m going to suggest later on is a renters permit, I’ll explain that later. I would also say that in additional to these other solutions we may look at a scaled sales tax or a payroll tax of national businesses, those that are not native to Carthage.

Our community has a very low stock of single-family and multi-family housing. There is also a need for child care for families in our community. With these limitations, this impacts our work force and many of our businesses are struggling to fill positions within their company. What do you think is the city’s role in helping solve these issues and what do you think is a top priority?

  • Aaron McDonald

One solution is to make a renters license where in order to rent you must apply with a renters license per street number address. In order to get the license, one must be a locally registered voters because we don’t want Black Rock New York getting all the rent money, we want that to go to local people if possible. This will make the demand for the outside market go down which would also make the prices go down or at least stay stable. I would also like to strike any unnecessary red tape for building new structures. As far as child care goes, that is a role for the church and not the government, Ephesians 6 40

  • Ed Hardesty

I think the city’s role, it can be termed economic development. That label means a lot more than just finding businesses that want to come to town. I look on economic development as business infrastructure, affordable housing, child care, workforce enticements like parks and leisure activities, restaurants, grocery stores, not just Walmart, parks, strong internet connectivity, things like that. It all ties together. One of the issues that I touch on down at the base level is affordable housing, making it affordable. One of the issues is having enough housing, another is having the ability of people to get into it. To be affordable housing it has to be affordable. You’ve got a $650 a month apartment, it takes first and last, it takes a security deposit, a cleaning deposit, possibly a pet deposit, you could talk up to $1,500 up front. A lot of people don’t have that right up front. One possible solutions is work with banks and private investors to establish a low-interest fund that renters can apply for short-term loans to fund the costs to let them get into what is available. Obviously we have to build more but we also have to help people afford it to be called affordable housing.

Every year during the budget process, more money is requested by our city department heads than the city can fund. In other words, there are typically more needs than there are funds. If this were to happen, as an elected official, how will you or how do you decide funding priorities within the city?

  • Ed Hardesty

This is an interesting questions because this happens every year at budget time and it happens at every company in the world at budget time. Your departments heads, they’re going to ask for the moon knowing that they’re going to have to cut, they’re going to have to sacrifice a few comets and satellites to get what’s actually necessary. My problem is that the budget process needs to be expanded a little bit, it needs to have more full council involvement than just three decision makers coming up with a preliminary budget and passing it to a four-person budget committee to come up with a recommendation to the full council. It needs more involvement by the full council so they can understand better the actual needs of the different departments and provide more input. The old two heads are better than one technique. That will of course require more time involvement for all the council members but that’s what we’re signing up for.

  • Aaron McDonald

My system would be does the initiative serve the biblical function of government, does it violate the Constitution or individual rights or the law and what are the consequences of not doing something. That is my thought process on what the priorities are and if we should or shouldn’t do something. One thing, someone said something about transparency, I would love to see the city government and council meetings have a YouTube or Rumble page where we can see what’s up so we can hold account the council without having to show up Tuesday 6:30 p.m. every two weeks. We can watch it at home.

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