Five Marion City Council candidates running for two seats in an April 5 election bring a diverse range of experience and priorities to the contest.
Marion County Record interviewed candidates about why they chose to run, their backgrounds in working with government, and what would be their top three concerns to address as council members.
Melissa Mermis was appointed to the council by Mayor Todd Heitschmidt in 2014 to fill the seat he gave up to become mayor.
Mermis moved from Edwards County to Marion in 2008 when her husband, Tyler, joined Marion police. She obtained a nursing degree from Dodge City Community College, completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing through an online college, and works on the staff at St. Luke Hospital and Living Center. They have a daughter, Marshelle, who is a senior at Marion High School, and Melissa has three stepchildren.
Mermis said she filed for a full term on council because she feels called to give back to the community, and she wants put what she’s learned the past two years about city operations, budgeting, and other issues to good use.
“When you’re brand new to something it takes a bit to build a knowledge base,” she said. “I fell like I can build off of my experience and learning.”
Fixing aging infrastructure, with an emphasis on water and streets, is a priority for Mermis.
“Being a smaller and older community, our water pipes need quite a bit of repair, and streets are kind of an evolving issue,” she said.
She cited the need to have a replacement plan in place, while maintaining the ability to adapt and change when unexpected problems arise.
Mermis said she wants economic development to focus on retail opportunities as well as bringing other kinds of businesses to town while working to maintain and grow population.
“It’s about sustainability,” she said. “Our job is to make Marion stand out against other communities of similar size. We want to make this a desirable place for people who are looking to move here and start their families here and start their businesses here.”
Collaboration with other cities and the county is a third priority, one which Mermis said extends beyond economic development. Looking at ways to share staffing, resources, facilities, and equipment could result in conservation of money and better distribution of funds for maximum benefits.
A benefit of her experience on council has been to learn what questions to ask, she said.
“I try to ask the questions that any lay person would ask,” she said. “If I don’t know what this means, chances are there are a lot of other people out there that don’t as well. It may not always be obvious.”