New Marion City Council Member Differs With New Mayor on Key Project
Retired businessman Paul Draper won the recent election for an at-large Marion City Council seat. He talks about how all of his years living in Marion will help him when he takes the job.
Sure, Paul Draper has been living in Marion for 57 years and owns a uptown business building that is older than the Statue of Liberty, but he said that doesn't mean he is stuck in the past.
The know retired and recently elected Marion City Council member said his experience in living and in doing business in Marion for all those decades has well prepared him for performing his civic duty.
"I appreciate our historical property and districts, I appreciate what the railroads did for this community," he said. "We wouldn't have a beautiful historic downtown had it not been for the railroads."
Draper said he also has a keen sense of history for past city council actions, those that worked and those that failed.
"I remember some things we tried that didn't work," he said. "One-way streets, taking parking off Seventh Avenue. That cost us three business in two years."
But, he insists he isn't stuck in the past. While he has a few problems with the Seventh Avenue Project, he said the city has made some encouraging improvements to the plan.
Draper, whose building houses Sheets Forrest Draper Insurance on Tenth Avenue, said he does worry about decreasing traffic off Seventh Avenue, but he said the proposed roundabout sounds like a better idea to him. He added that he disagreed with Mayor-elect Allen "Snooks" Bouska that the Seventh Avenue Project was a way for the city to ditch old businesses for new developments.
"I don't think the city would intentionally try to get rid of any business," he said. "The city would like to see Marion iron off our mains street, but it is a growing business and it is employing residents, so we have to be careful."
J.D. Schlotterbac, regional manager of Iowa Realty, has known Draper since they were kids. He worked with him again when they were involved in the civil service division. He said what is most important about Draper is that he comes from a successful business background.
"It is good to someone who has had their own business on the council," he said, adding that the real world experience of owning a business means Draper is realistic and pragmatic. "As a small businsses owner you may have a wonderful idea, but someone is not going to give you a loan unless you have a solid business plan."
Draper said he is excited to see Marion grow. He hopes with his knowledge of its history, he can help Marion retain what makes it great while finding new, positive changes.
He said he is glad that he will be serving on a council that plans for the future, even if he has slight disagreements.
"It is good to see that we are forward looking to the communtiy," he said. "All of the sudden we will be a community of fourty thosuand instead of twenty. It makes a difference."