Two Vie for Ward 1 Council Seat - The Missourian: Communities

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Two Vie for Ward 1 Council Seat

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:45 am | Updated: 7:54 pm, Sat Jun 22, 2013.

Two-term incumbent representing Ward 1, Walt Meyer, is being challenged in the April 2 municipal election.

Tom Coulter and Walt Meyer also ran against each other in the 2011 race.

The Missourian interviewed each of the candidates and asked them where they stand on several issues, their priorities and why they are running.

Tom Coulter

Coulter, who has lived in Ward 1 nearly his entire life, said he is running for office because he cares about the community and, though it’s already good, he wants to make it better.

“I have a strong voice. When push comes to shove, I don’t give up,” he said, adding that he would be a representative of the citizens.

Annexation is a huge issue in the city, Coulter said.

“I want to know all of the facts before I make a decision,” he said. “I think it should be a vote of the people.”

Coulter said he would like to make sure the city listens to the facts, make sure they’re correct and make sure cost analysis is done properly.

He favors voluntary annexation.

“When you annex someone, you pay for those utilities. When they voluntarily annex, they pay for the utilities. Voluntary annexation is the greatest thing for the city,” he said.

He doesn’t want to see subdivisions built in the county that don’t build to city specifications, then try to annex in and let the city deal with the problems created before they became part of the city.

Coulter said he would like to see the city work with the county to unify codes.

In terms of affordable, or work force housing, Coulter said he isn’t sure of his position because it’s a “vague” term, and depends on the person looking for the home.

With a construction background, Coulter said he’d like to see affordable lots, but he feels there are plenty of affordable used homes already available.

“I didn’t come out of school expecting to buy a brand-new house,” he said. “I worked my way up.”

Coulter said building on smaller lots isn’t necessarily more affordable, even though the houses sell faster. He said he does favor smaller lot sizes.

Though he’s not a smoker, Coulter said he is against the smoking ban recently passed by the city council.

“I think what the city did is penalize those who went smoke-free on their own,” he said. “I’d rather not have the city tell me what to do. As a business owner I wouldn’t want that.”

Coulter said he feels like the smoking ban is the government overstepping its bounds.

He also said he is not for constructing the Camp Street bridge. The bridge has been broken for a long time and a contractor was paid out of a contract last time, he said.

“I don’t see why we need to bring it up again,” he added.

As a Ward 1 resident, Coulter said he’d like to see more funds spent on his end of town, for things such as helping clean up derelict properties.

Coulter owns Electric Unlimited in Washington. He also serves on the Fair Board.

If elected, Coulter said he will be available 24/7. “I always have been and I always will be,” he said.

Walt Meyer

Born and raised in Washington, Walt Meyer said he loves his town and would like to see what he can do to keep it heading in the right direction.

He has been on the council since 2009.

Meyer said he is for voluntary annexation.

“I just feel like the government has intruded so much on so many things. I think this is kind of putting down the homeowners whose total investment is usually in their homes and their farms. I feel that’s a very big issue with them,” he said.

As for affordable housing, Meyer said there are many homes in Washington that are just sitting empty.

He said he would like to see the city come up with an incentive plan to get young couples to buy the homes.

“Fix the old houses up,” he said.

Meyer said he spent several years working on his first home to get it the way he wanted it.

“But with the restrictions we have with our building codes, they automatically think they’re supposed to fix it up before they can even move in to it,” he said.

Meyer said he does favor smaller lot sizes, as many older people want smaller lot sizes and homes.

In terms of the smoking ban, Meyer said the city council was well-informed before making a decision.

He feels the ban was a step in the right direction.

“I don’t like government control any more than anybody else does, so I thought long and hard about this,” he said. “But I know personally at least a half-dozen people who got emphysema from second-hand smoke and a couple of people who died horrible deaths because of their smoking.”

Meyer said one person he knows lost his entire jaw because of his smoking habit. For those reasons, Meyer said he supports the ban 100 percent.

Meyer has been a building contractor for the past 25 years. He also has worked in factories as both a floor manager and supervisor, as well as a laborer.

“I feel like that gives me an all-around view of what people are going through and what their concerns are,” he said.

Meyer said he thinks it’s a great idea that the city draw more businesses to the area, but said the city needs to watch taking federal funds, like with the Highway 100 beautification project.

“I was against that because I feel it was a safety hazard. The fire department and the ambulance service were against that project,” he said, adding that he doesn’t like so much government money coming in.

Overall, Meyer said he thinks the city administration and boards are doing a great job, as well as volunteers in the city.

“A lot of great things can be said about Washington,” he said.

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