A newcomer to the political arena and an incumbent both are vying for a seat on the Union Board of Aldermen in next Tuesday’s municipal election.
The Ward 2 race is the only contest for a board seat.
Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper will face Dennis Soete-bier for the seat. Hooper will complete her first two-year term on the board in April.
Aldermen Dustin Bailey, Ward 3, and Karen Erwin, Ward 4, do not have challengers in the election.
There are no candidates on the ballot for the Ward 1 seat, but Alderman Jim Albrecht is campaigning as a write-in candidate.
Municipal Judge A. David Arand also has no opposition on the ballot.
The Missourian interviewed both Hooper and Soetebier to discuss the needs of the city, and their goals as candidates.
The current Ward 2 alderman is retired from East Central College. Hooper is 62, married and has two grown children. Hooper also has two grandchildren.
She lives at 8 Hoffert St. and is a member of Zion United Church of Christ.
Hooper has a degree in marketing and business from Webster University.
“I’ve enjoyed my last two years and I have always been community-minded,” she said.
Hooper explained that through city committees aldermen are able to discuss and understand the issues that face the city.
“We get the opportunity to really understand what is being presented,” she said.
Hooper serves on both the personnel, finance and public works committee, and parks, building, development and public service committee.
She noted that she has no specific agenda if re-elected to office.
“My goal is to make sound decisions, and try to be involved with the decision that need to be made,” Hooper said.
She added that she would like to see the new intersection on Highway 47 north of Highway 50 resolved. There are proposals to close the Old County Farm Road and Highway 47 intersection, and then open a new intersection north of that location.
“I hope the decision is amicable for the people who live out there and nobody is forced to do something they don’t want to do,” she said.
Hooper added that she has family who lives on Peters Lane who could be affected by a new intersection. She further explained that she wants to make the best decision for everyone involved.
The Veterans Memorial Park progress also is important, Hooper said.
“I am concerned about using the parkland wisely,” she said.
Hooper said she would like the land to be used soon.
“We need to take the steps to have a park out there so people can benefit from it,” she said. “People are not ready to pay for it. I respect that, so let’s go forward.”
The city also must address infrastructure needs, according to Hooper, including the Union police station on Church Street.
“The city has grown and the population has grown, but their building hasn’t,” she said.
Hooper further noted that city hall and the municipal auditorium should be updated.
“It is handicapped accessible, but not handicapped friendly,” Hooper said.
“We need to evaluate what we have,” she added. “Not just parks, but buildings too — we need to take care of what we have.”
Hooper said if she is re-elected, she will listen to constituents and help them find the answers they are looking for.
The 62-year-old Soetebier is self-employed in the home improvement industry. He has a history in the construction field with Soetebier Construction, which focused on industrial, commercial and residential construction.
Soetebier, who lives at 605 S. Lincoln, is married. He and his wife have five children.
The Washington High School graduate attended classes at Southeast Missouri State University. He has never held political office.
Soetebier said he would offer a fresh opinion on the board.
“I offer a new, different voice, and there could be a different dialogue,” he said.
Soetebier added that he has been interested in running, and now has time for the commitment.
“Work is more flexible and I have more freedom,” he said. “It is a good time for me.”
According to Soetebier, he has no agenda, but is interested in seeing more walking paths at city parks, and connecting areas of town.
He further added that it is important to continue addressing infrastructure needs in the city.
“We need to make long-term plans to address the older infrastructure,” Soetebier said.
He also expressed the need to assist residents due to the failing housing market.
“I don’t know what the city can do, but something has to be done to help homeowners,” Soetebier added.
Soetebier suggested that the city redirect traffic to better assist with the progress of the Main Street project.
He said that customer parking and work crews have created more congestion that may have delayed progress in the downtown area.
“(The city) could have worked with merchants to use an alternate route,” he said. “There could have been a sign asking people to use Locust instead of Main Street.
“We could have made it easier just by having good dialogue with the contractor,” Soetebier added. “Traffic impedes progress — it adds up over a big project.”
The city should move forward on the Veterans Memorial Park project in east Union, Soetebier said, but not with tax dollars.
“Nobody wanted to pay for it with a sales tax,” he said. “I’m going to side with the community, but if the money is there we should find a way to do it.”
Soetebier said he has lived in Union about 20 years and there has been a good amount of growth.
“A lot of things had been gifted,” he said. “We have had a lot of improvements because of members of the community.”
Soetebier said that residents should pick who they feel will do the best job for Union.
“I want to leave it to the members of the ward and let them decide who is best for them,” he said.