Kevin Burkholder: 'We need to listen to both sides'
City council candidate Kevin Burkholder, appointed in April to fill Chris Costello’s seat, is running unopposed for the last two years on Costello’s original term.
He said the council should have open discussions in meetings unless an executive session is necessary to discuss a personnel matter.
He also thinks council members should have plenty of time to think things over before making decisions.
“I’d like to see it brought up, have some discussion, and make a decision at a later meeting,” Burkholder said. “I think the sooner we get started on something, the better information we get.”
Taxes should be reduced by looking at what purchases are actually needed, he said.
Asked what changes are needed to do a better job with the city budget, Burkholder said this year’s budget process was completely new to him. He would have liked to have had more discussion before having to make a decision.
He likes the ideas of doing budget planning the way Hillsboro does. The council draws up a budget, then talks about it at every meeting until the budget hearing.
“We decided to have Scot Loyd help us with that this year because (city administrator) Brogan (Jones) is so new,” Burkholder said, adding that Loyd doesn’t make judgment decisions.
If Burkholder had to increase revenue, he’d be flexible about raising sales tax.
“I guess I’d have to talk to other council members and see what is less impactful on everybody,” he said.
He’d also like to look at how Marion compares with other towns.
“I’m open to any options,” Burkholder said. “That’s why I would want to compare with other towns.”
To build reserves, the city administrator should work with department heads to find out what actually is needed, Burkholder said.
Although department heads are responsible for overseeing their own departments and should be allowed to spend money, he also wants council members to make decisions on big-ticket items and review city finances regularly.
“I would definitely like to see how we’re doing on a monthly basis,” he said.
Marion has received much scrutiny in the past several weeks because of an Aug. 11 raid on the Marion County Record and the homes of its co-owners and Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel.
Burkholder was newly on the council when the incident took place.
Asked what he thought might have been done to avoid that incident, he said it would have been better to have a city administrator in place to do a background check on Gideon Cody before he was hired. Instead, council member Zach Collett informally checked out Cody.
“I don’t think it was any more Zach Collett’s responsibility than anyone else,” Burkholder said. “I don’t remember that ever being discussed.”
He doesn’t know whether he would have suspended Cody sooner than Mayor David Mayfield did.
When he first got on the council, Burkholder was trying to learn. Now he’s not afraid to ask questions.
“I want to understand it,” he said. “I would like to have a better understanding of what the city has and what it needs.”
Marion’s council structure varies from the forms other cities have, and change to the current structure was never submitted to a public vote.
“I’d like to look into it a little more, and I’d like to see what Hillsboro does, and maybe some of the other towns,” he said.
Burkholder said communication with Marion residents was important and he wanted people to feel comfortable talking to council members.
“I think we need to listen to both sides of the issues,” he said. “I definitely would like to get some of the discord stopped.”
For Marion’s growth he wants to find ways to attract young people with children to the community.
Last modified Nov. 2, 2023