Marion Mayoral Candidate Q&A: Snooks Bouska
In an interview edited for clarity and conciseness, Marion mayoral candidate Snooks Bouska, a Marion resident and uptown Dairy Queen owner, talks about his hopes for Marion and the Nov. 8 election.
Q: What are the most important issues facing Marion?
A: Fiscal responsibility is one thing. We should apply spending toward infrastructure — sewers and streets. You hear about that each and every election, but there is not enough spent. We are spending money on reports and surveys on capital expenditures that we don't even need.
The Seventh Avenue project. We all believe that there has to be a future of Marion, but I feel it has to be planned progression of expansion. The planners are restricting access to the west side of the city to the businesses. If you reduce traffic on a street by 75 percent, the businesses will fail. The sinister plan is that if 75 percent of the traffic is reduced, the businesses will fail. Then, if the businesses fail the (future business) developers can come in and purchase the land and not the business.
Q: What do you say to those who would insinuate that you're a one-issue candidate?
A: I don't start out with the Seventh Avenue business. I start out with streets and infrastructure and a balanced budget. That translates to property taxes. If we can limit the spending then we don't have to up our taxes all the time. Just stay in our means. We have already spent a million dollars in this Anderson Bogart business. If we could move that money to existing street repair that would be great.
To read a Q&A with candidate Nick Glew follow the link.
Q: Where do you think the future of Marion's economic development lies?
A: I think it is positive. We have to work to get all the entities involved: the chamber (Marion Chamber of Commerce), MEDCO (Marion Economic Development Company), the enterprise center, city council. Economically, we are in a downturn now, so we have to be extremely aggressive. I don't think we have been aggressive the last four years at all. The economic development area around Highway 100 — we need a success story down there. We have a Menard's and the developer has the rest of that land. It's shovel ready. It's ready to go. Perhaps we should take a look at building codes and sign codes to see if they are too restrictive. I think we can open up the Sixth Avenue area for retail, and retain the jobs we have in the area, (and) add a tax base we don't have there now. It is a win-win situation.
Q: What do you think Marion's budget priorities should be?
A: Fix the existing infrastructure. That's the streets, the existing streets, the sewers and water. We can't develop downtown. We can't put big restaurants downtown, if we don't have enough water pressure. The whole city needs upgrades. There are streets all over town that are old and they need to be redone. It is always streets, streets in the election, but we are on it now.
Q: How will you be different?
A: That is our priority. That is what we are running on. We are not career politicians, holy cow. We are here to give people what they want. We have been voters this whole time. We know what has to be done.
Q: If you were to get elected, where do you see Marion by the end of your first term?
A: If I have three councilmen get elected with me, then hopefully we will be economically positive with our budget. We hopefully will have some new businesses coming into town in those three areas (Northern Tower Terrace area, southern commercial area on Collins Road Southeast and Sixth Avenue). The downtown area is something we should maintain, make it upscale and nice, make it attractive so it can be nice for people.
Q: What if the three councilmen do not get elected alongside you?
A: If we don't, I will still look at people down the aisle and say it was a good show, but they don't realize the peril on Seventh Avenue. I would be the odd man out. I would definitely like the voters, the citizens of Marion, to know what is going on. I would be an insider to what is happening to city hall. I'd be a fly on the wall; I'd be there.