Monday, April 21, 2014
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Belton City Council elections aim to fill four seats

Note: This information is a continuance from last week's article.

During this year's elections, four spots are up for election on the Belton City Council including incumbents Frank Minosky, Craig Pearson and David K. Leigh. Wayne Carpenter's seat is also open, but he will not be returning for another term. Also running for one of the four council seats are candidates Dan Kirkley, Jerri Gauntt and Ronnie Schoepf Jr.

 

The City Council consists of seven members, including the mayor. All positions are "at large," and have a two-year term, including the position of mayor.

Recently, the Belton Journal provided each candidate with a questionnaire, which included questions concerning the future of Belton and the candidate's past experiences.

Due to the amount of candidates this year, their qualifications are listed this week; additional question and answers will be printed next week.

Early voting for the 2013 election begins with early voting April 29-May 7. Election day is May 11. For more information about the elections, contact the City Clerk's office at (254) 933-5817.

Below are each candidates answers to the questions posed to them.

In your opinion, what is the importance of keeping Belton's historic structures in tact?

DK: As Vice Chairman of the City of Belton Historic Preservation Commission, I feel that our history and the structures reflecting that history are vital components of Belton's unique personality. Honoring the past will assist us in building our distinctive future.

JG: "Bloom where you're planted." It is a term I've heard my whole life, and it is fitting for Belton. We do not have rail lines that run every direction, so we cannot be a shipping magnet; we do not have one of the largest military installations in the world, so we cannot have our corner of the military market. We have to make the best of what we do have, and what Belton has is charm. Much of that charm has to do with our historic structures. We cannot throw them away in the name of parking lots, or "new growth" or "development". If we do not keep our historic structures intact, we lose our charm, and we lose one of the major reason people visit Belton, and one of the reasons people want to move to Belton. If we throw away our historic structures, we are throwing away a key reason for growth and development. Our historic and cultural heritage can be our "cash crop", but we have to take care of it, just as our parents and grandparents tended their victory gardens. Those gardens were hard work, but the benefit of the effort to maintain them certainly was worth it.

DL: Belton's historic character is one of Belton's primary assets. My family has a tie to our history and love the unique character. We restored a late 1800s Victorian home on Penelope and I have worked through with the city to establish the Façade Easement Grant program to help beautify downtown. It has also been a goal of mine to increase the standards through building codes along with working with builders in historic areas to have new affordable housing architecture that is consistent with the neighborhoods.

FM: Having served on the Historic Preservation Committee to write the present City Ordinance, I have gained valuable insight into the importance of our Historic Homes, Districts, and Structures. They tell the story of Belton's past, help preserve the small town atmosphere, and serve as a constant reminder for us to do all we can to preserve what was here when we got here.

CP: A big part of who we are as a city and what makes Belton great is the rich historic character and culture of our city. Our historic structures are an important part of that and, once lost, cannot be recovered. I believe we must balance the need to preserve our historic structures with the rights of property owners. I think our current Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO) has struck that balance well, allowing property owners within neighborhoods to determine if the majority desire to be part of a historic preservation district or not. Using that process resulted in 5 out of 6 proposed areas voting to establish historic districts. The current HPO also codified an open process for bringing matters to the Historic Preservation Commission and placed the final decisions with the elected officials on the City Council so that the citizens can hold the Council directly accountable. I think we have developed this process well and it is working effectively to protect the historic structures in Belton without stripping the property owners of their rights.

RS: My family has been in different businesses in Belton since the 1930's. And, due to that, we are not only proud of our family's history in Belton, but the entire history from the Chisholm Trail, the courthouse, to the University and the historic structures that make our community what it is. By preserving those valuable structures we're able to share the story with my children and those growing up in our community.