On Tuesday, Missouri voters will go to the polls to vote in the election originally scheduled for April and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Aurora, 5 candidates are vying for two three-year terms on the Aurora City Council. Candidates are Jerry West, Stephen Wiles, Jason Lewis, Theresa Pettit and David Larry Marks. At The Aurora Advertiser, we sent out a brief questionnaire to all five and three responded. Those who responded were Theresa Pettit, Jason Lewis, and David Larry Marks.

Marks opted to respond only with his bio and a single paragraph.

MARKS: David “Larry” Marks, age72, Graduate from Marionville, MO,Retired Aurora Bus Driver of 34 years, Theatre business in Aurora since 1965, Sunset Drive-In Theatre from 1977 To present, and Princess Theatre 1971 to 1982. 

Vote for me because I am concerned about the direction in which Aurora is going. I want to see the best for Aurora citizens. I’m concerned about the way Aurora looks as well as odor control.   I believe the present council has been working well together.  I’ve served as Mayor for 2 years and on the council for 6 years. Our town has been set back so many times already. A change now will destroy a work in progress. 

Both Petitt and Lewis responded to the questions.

TAA: Why did you decide to run for a city council seat?

LEWIS: I have always wanted to get involved but for many years I traveled all over the country for work and that time away prevented me from becoming engaged to the level I wanted.  Not long after a recent promotion (and no longer traveling) a video was posted of a current council member appearing to be asleep during a council meeting.  It made me think that now is the time to say thank you to those that have served, listen to the advice when prudent but, it’s time to take the keys away and let someone else drive.  We all need someone who is energetic and can bring forth a fresh approach and skill set.  The Council in many ways is primed to do great things and I hope to be that spark that makes the difference.  I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up and work with the remaining council members.

PETTIT: I realize running for City Council requires patience, dedication and the ability to listen. (1)  I’d like to see some projects that didn’t get completed while I was on the park board.  (2) Someone said “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  I desire our town to be more progressive than that. Everyone has their own opinion of what is broke. I believe taking surveys of citizens to see what the problems are and find a resolution  The city should not be managed using a band aid approach.  I am willing to serve on additional boards to become part of the decision process of what problems or improvements are needed. Those boards are the Airport, Bright Futures, Planning & Zoning, Economic Development, Parks,Hospital and Housing.  I want to be a part of planning on the future of our town. (3) Many some things would be possible thru grants. ( FREE MONEY ). ( 4) I realize good affordable housing is extremely limited and landlords be held accountable to provide better housing. (5)  I’d like to see more recycling options.

Note: Pettit opted to include her answers to a separate question about the top three issues facing the city with the above reply.

TAA: What would you list as the top three issues at this time in the city?

LEWIS: Unlike others I do not have an agenda or list of personal pet projects I wish to impose, instead I have spent months talking to people and conducting a city wide survey available online at http://bit.ly/2P57OB1AuroraMO  Your top three things are as follows;

1. Addition & Retention of business/Jobs in Aurora  - I think in this current situation this is more important than ever.  I want to foster a business friendly approach in a responsible manner.

2. Stealing / Theft (police protection)  & the general upkeep of our town (homes and buildings in disrepair, Strong Oder’s, cluttered or junky yards/porches).  -  I think consistent code enforcement and finding creative ways to improve our town visually is an obtainable goal we should already be doing.  I hope to work with our police force and find where the road blocks may exist to better crime/theft  prevention and making sure they have the tools necessary to safely to their job. 

3. Improving civic engagement & city communication with the public (Transparency) – We could do a number of small things that would quickly make a big impact, the city can encourage the attendance and broadcast of its meetings to welcome those who wish to attend electronically.  I also feel it’s important to  listen to the community and be proactive in seeking out feedback, not waiting for that feedback to come to us.

I plan to make the findings of the survey conducted public in hopes to further discussions among us all to help steer the conversations we should be having.  Being a member of the council should be about representing our town and doing what is best for it, not our own personal Wishlist.    

TAA: Why should a voter choose you on the ballot?

PETTIT: I am not new to helping to make Aurora a better place to live. When realizing one of the biggest assets of our town were the parks, I volunteered for over 10 years on the park board and most of that time as president. While serving I was able to make over $950,237 of improvements in White Park alone. All other parks had improvements as well.   A large portion was  received in grants that I helped to write. There is a lot of money in grants that I am hopeful Aurora could get. This couldn’t have been possible unless you work as a team, citizens, Park Board, city employees and volunteers.  While attending a city round up meeting in 2014, the city manager announced there were over 300 homes on the improvement and demolition list. He announced the budget only permitted demolishing 5-6 homes a year. Knowing it would take Y E A R S to provide safer housing and a better curb appeal for businesses looking to relocate, Scott & I formed Aurora Beautification Company, ABC.  We wanted to work WITH the city to speed up this process.  To date, we have demolished 6 houses and looking to restore a historical landmark. The funding is thru grants and donations. I am on the RISE board in Aurora. Besides being a mentor and providing education to those trying to get out of poverty, RISE as received  $29,500 in grants that I wrote  I have witnessed the increase of pride from those who get involved with community service projects. While on the park board, I coordinated and used many volunteers from Eagle Scouts, FFA, AHS seniors among others. When safety at the city pool drop off was brought to our attention, I created a team of teachers, an architect, seniors and a bus driver to come up with the solution. If everyone gave just a little of their talent, we could do great things in Aurora.

LEWIS: I am the only candidate running who's votes and stances cannot be pressured or influenced by a business I own or a business I work for. I believe in a common sense approach and working with city employee's and community leaders collectively .The time for younger leadership to step up and  contribute to the growth of our community is now. I hope to foster more engagement and participation with city events.

 I believe in the future of Aurora & I want to be Proud in calling Aurora home. I expect more & you should too!Thank you in advance for trusting in me with your vote June 2nd, I look forward to serving you all.

Candidates were also asked to provide a bio if they chose. Marks appears above and the other candidate that returned one was Theresa Pettit:

PETTIT: My name is Theresa Pettit.  I am the 7th of the 9 children from JB & Jean Mais. Knowing I liked to help people after high school I received my BSN.  I initially worked as a RN in critical care (open heart, heart transplants, ER ) for several years before becoming a nurse educator. After starting our family, I managed the cardiac rehab facility at the Aurora Hospital. For the past  24 years I work with my husband Scott. Besides office managing, I am a nationally certified legal nurse consultant. With that certification I review medical records / bills to determine facts and issues of the care a client received due to an injury. I have testified in court as an expert witness as well as formulating questions for medical depositions. I believe in clean affordable housing.  I own an 11 unit apartment building in Monett. In Aurora, I have a 4 unit apartment building along with 2 rental homes and an office complex. Scott Pettit and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary this year.  We have two children.  James is an attorney in our firm who is married to Carissa.  Our daughter Allison is married to Trenton Patton. They are both pharmacists/