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.
Michel Soyez grew up in Marion, graduating from high school in 1993.
He completed a criminal justice degree at Garden City Community College, where he also met his wife, Sherry. They have two children: Devin, a freshman, and Mickelly, a sixth-grader.
The couple returned to Marion in 1999 when Soyez took a job with the police department, and he served as chief from 2002 to 2007. Since 2007, Soyez has been operations manager for Cardie Oil.
Dissatisfaction with council decisions was at the root of his decision to run, Soyez said.
“I didn’t agree with the council on some issues that they had discussed and voted on,” he said. “If you’re going to complain about something you should be willing to help solve the problem. It was a wake-up call that I needed to become more active.”
Another motivating factor, Soyez said, was long-term investment in the city and a desire to preserve its values.
“We made a conscious decision to move back to Marion for what Marion was,” he said. “I don’t want the values I moved back here for sacrificed for financial gain to become a big city that doesn’t still have small-town values.”
Focusing on what Marion should be “in the next 40 to 50 years” would take precedence for Soyez if he were elected, he said, and economic development is an important part of that.
“To be progressive, you have to be looking forward, but you can’t sacrifice what’s behind you,” he said.
Soyez said he would try to strike that balance by looking closely at the types of businesses that come to town, with an eye toward bringing in people that would complement and enhance the community.
Good infrastructure is essential to attracting people, and Soyez said that begins with public safety, including emergency medical services, fire department, and police.
“Those are large concerns for residents,” Soyez said. “I’m not saying we don’t have good service, but I’d like to see more grown. If your emergency services don’t lead the way and funding isn’t provided to them, I believe that will severely affect the kind of people we want coming into our community.”
While acknowledging USD 408 is separate from city government, Soyez said the importance of the district to the city is reason enough to make collaboration a third priority of his.
“Although it’s not the city’s entity, the city will have to accept some of the responsibility for making sure our school stays a high-quality school,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean high-dollar bond issues. It’s the little things that will keep programs going.”
Soyez described his qualifications as past experience in city government, business experience, and insight into issues gleaned from his public safety experience.