Interview By: Randy Lewis
Tell us a little about your self and what qualifies you to run for City Council in Monroe?
In 2003, Procter & Gamble relocated my wife, Mary, and I to Cincinnati. We fell in love with Monroe while house hunting and decided this was the community in which we wanted to live and begin our family (our daughter was born here in 2005). We believed that Monroe’s location between Dayton and Cincinnati gave it the city amenities, yet sill maintained its rural, hometown community feel.
While serving a tour with the Missouri National Guard, I attended the University of Missouri-Rolla and majored in Engineering Management. During my time at UMR, I was in charge of publicity for the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Committee for Student Council. The 1998 celebration saw a 28% increase in attendance and returned Rolla, Missouri’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, to the second most attended parade in the state, only behind the V.P. Fair Parade in St. Louis.
In addition to my service with the St. Patrick’s Day Committee, I also served as an officer in Kappa Sigma Fraternity multiple times. My experiences in the fraternity taught me, “because that is how we did it last year” is not the right reason to do something, and if it is the only reason, it is time to change. I do value tradition, as it provides for culture and sense of being; however, not at the risk of progress and betterment. I have since learned that this applies outside fraternity life as well. So many areas get in caught in the thought pattern of “that is just the way we do it”, and fail to see areas to improve. Looking out for those areas to improve in our community strengthens us all. When considering issues for the neighborhood, my prevailing thoughts are “How does this help the neighborhood?” and “Can this be done better?” I think both would apply well at the city level.
Currently, I serve on the Board of Colonial Manor Square Homeowner’s Association.
Where would you like to see Monroe in the next few years?
Through discipline and diligence, the current city council pulled the city out of a financial emergency, and it is important that this level of discipline and diligence be continually maintained. Part of the emergency was as a result of going to “bare-bones” planning, no money for anything, which is not absolutely necessary (i.e. green-space, aesthetic improvements, fire/police expansion or raises.) Combine that with the progress and growth that Monroe has seen during this tough economic time, and you get a public perception of over or non-frugal spending. The ability to make these decisions puts Monroe in a unique position in the area, it also lends easily to a lot of misperceptions.
First, I would like to see channels of communication opened between city government and the citizens of Monroe. Second, I think that it is imperative that City Council meetings be viewed as business meetings, and not as public awareness meetings. I would expand the town hall format to include staff, school board and other public officials. Third, I would like to see the city utilize the internet more to increase awareness of current issues, and not just as advertisement for events and happenings. The internet can effectively be utilized through attention to detail and discipline.
Fourth, I would like to see the expansion of local media. I would like to look into the possibility of expanding Monroe print media in regards to both coverage of city issues and distribution. Monroe is a large enough city to not have to rely on neighboring municipalities for news coverage. Another possibility could be the city and school looking into a public access television channel, in conjunction with effective internet usage in order to achieve the goal of local media coverage for Monroe.
Where do you stand on the Monroe Council Lawsuit against SunCoke?
With regard to legal issues, there is an entire discovery period that is not public knowledge. That information was available to the current council, who used it to form the current course of action. I think that all of this information would be needed that in order to form a decision in the best interests of the people of Monroe. I do not feel it would be wise to make a decision without full knowledge of the situation.
I do think it will be an important issue here in Monroe. I will stand up for our citizens and in the best interest of their health and well being. I am all for the jobs and if it keeps AK Steel from leaving Middletown temporarily then that is fine but SunCoke must be environmentally compliant. I will not stand for a non-compliant business.
We must put the City of Monroe first and I ask the question, “What benefit this would have for Monroe?” The question will be posed “How much is enough to keep the fight going?” I believe these questions were posed during the discovery period, I believe those answers were what the current course of action was based on. With that information, I would keep a course action that put the citizens and businesses of Monroe first.
I have been to several City Council Meetings to support the council's current course of action, and as long as it makes sense both legally and fiscally I will continue to do so.
How do you feel about 100% Tax Abatement and its use on the east end of town?
The decisions were made to improve Monroe and bring growth to the area, and it is obvious that has occurred and is continuing to occur.
If the question is “How do you feel about 100% Tax Abatement and its use in the future?”, my response would be that the city has to make itself competitive. When a business looks at locating somewhere, they look at infrastructure and costs. A 100% abatement can make a city with little or no infrastructure pretty lucrative. Once that infrastructure is in place and demand on the land exceeds what is available, more options become available.
Fill in the blank, if elected I will _____________________
If elected, I will seek to represent the prevailing opinions of the citizens of Monroe to the best of my ability. As well, I want to ensure that the fiscal decisions made for Monroe are made in order to keep the community out of the emergency that we were in, and on track for continuing progress and growth.
What are the good things about Monroe?
The decisions made by prior leaders have given Monroe a growth opportunity that is not being felt by surrounding municipalities. This track record needs to be maintained with a sense of “there is still work to be done”, and not one of “we have arrived, we are done.”
Our location puts us in position to attract businesses and residents from both Dayton and Cincinnati. This should play a role in how the city is marketing to prospective developments.
Current leadership has put Monroe in the right direction. This direction needs to and can be maintained. I look forward to representing the citizens of Monroe and their concerns.
What things need improvement?
There is still a great deal of work to be done, and that seems to be the prevailing feeling of city leadership. The things that need improvement are:
* The streets need work.
* Improved communciation between the city and school and the residents
* Making sure projects, like the 63 realignment, are effectively communicated to municipalities, citizens and businesses.
* Streamlining information to citizens to reduce misinformation
What is more important, city government or school government in Monroe? Who should have final say on conflict in general?
From what I can tell, strong schools and strong cities go hand in hand. Therefore, asking which is more important seems to be a mute point. Both have relevancy and importance in each others strength and the ultimate strength of Monroe.
To learn more about Mr. osborn By visiting his web site at BrentOsborn.com
Discuss in The Voice Q & A With City Council Candidate Brent Osborn