All eyes and ears were on the City of St. Joseph primary election candidates at a forum sponsored by Missouri Western’s department and students of political science, social work and sociology on Feb. 18.
Mayoral candidates, Bill Falkner, Norma Jo Maccoux, Richard Sipe and Steve Warner along with 3rd district city council candidates, Mike Bozarth and Steve Sewell, responded to questions submitted by the audience for more than two hours in the Kemper Recital Hall. Questions concerning the city’s growth, economic condition, local schools and local businesses were the focus of the evening’s debates.
Assistant professor of political science, Jonathan Euchner, has sponsored candidate forums since 1993.
“I believe in giving students and the broader Missouri Western community, including St. Joseph, an opportunity to hear from candidates for public office,” Euchner said. “It’s part of my interest in encouraging greater citizenship and a more engaged public. It’s one of the many important things that political scientists do.”
All of the candidates, who are running in contested races in the upcoming March primary election, responded quickly and positively to Euchner’s invitation.
“I believe our forums have a very good reputation for fairness, good planning, excellent questions and a good audience turnout which the candidates appreciate,” Euchner said.
Audience turnout was fair; however this was the first of several other forums to be held prior to the April 6 general election.
Junior Rick Chaffee, economics, accounting, and business management major, admits he attended the forum for class credit but believes it is important for students to be aware of the issues and where each candidate stands on the issues.
“I think that many students attending Missouri Western will work in St. Joseph upon graduation,” Chaffee said. “For that reason, any issues that deal with the community pertain to them.”
The candidates recognize that Missouri Western is essential to the city’s growth and the city’s involvement is essential to attract students to the university.
“Missouri Western is one of the real jewels of St. Joseph and we need to get more community interaction between the city and the campus,” Sipe said.
Candidates were asked several questions regarding saving businesses in St. Joseph with little focus on bringing in large companies, which Chaffee feels the newly elected mayor needs to focus on business that will bring in manufacturing.