Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

Several candidates are in contention for positions on the Columbus City Council and Unified School District 493 Board of Education in the election scheduled for April 5.

In city elections Marie Nepple, the current mayor of Columbus, will be running against Dale Burton for mayor.

Nepple said she enjoys working with the community and the county and is eager to be a part of Columbus’ growth. She said she wants to continue with what is already in progress in the community and has no definite plans for what she will be doing if she is reelected. Nepple said she has lived in the area for 11 years and was a registered nurse and worked in administration in the hospital for over 30 years.

She said her mother and her sister both live in the community and she believes her educational background and experience is very important.

Burton was in the Columbus Public Works Department for 25 years. He said several people also asked him to run for mayor.

Burton said he wants to save tax payers money. Burton has lived in the area all of his life and said he was the superintendent for four years, and says has been through all of the budgets, goes to city council meetings and knows all about the town. Burton said that is why he feels he is qualified for the position.

Running in the First Ward are Jerri Burton, Joyce Begando and Homer Wayne Dobkins.

Begando said she was tired of taxes and utilities raising and maybe if the community works together they can get things changed. She is retired and runs an appliance service in Columbus. Begando and her husband both live in Columbus. She said she would like to see lower taxes in the area and feels qualified because she has been on the council before.

Dobkins has lived in the area for 30 years and is currently retired. He lives with his wife and his son also lives in Columbus. Dobkins said he feels there will be many changes made in Columbus and wants to be part of those changes. He said he also did not appreciate the $50 which went out the door with the weed ordinances.

“I want the best for Columbus and to educationalise,” Dobkins said. “I feel I can represent the people of ward one.”

Burton said she had decided to run for re-election and has lived in the area since she was in junior high. She said she works at Jay Hatfield Chevrolet-Buick and her children and one of her sisters live in the area. She said she feels qualified to run for this position because she has been on the council for the last four or five terms.

David Morrison and Hollie Young are running for council in the Second Ward.

Morrison was contacted, but because of family concerns was unable to speak at this time.

Young said she has lived in Columbus off and on throughout her life, and much of her family is from the area. She is an engineer for Thermal Engineering International Inc. in Joplin, Mo. Young said she believes her experience and education, she feels she can help Columbus with investments in current infrastructure as well as future growth. She said she believes downtown revitalization is critical. She said the square has virtually no retail activity and she wants local money to remain local, but the council must be able to support local business owners as well as encourage new retail outlets to see Columbus as a viable option.

She said her short term agenda includes the need to address street repair, street sign and light issues, resource evaluation and allocation, trash issues and stray animal issues. Young said she believes she is qualified because she has travelled all over the world and she and her husband have chosen raise their family in Columbus.

“I feel Columbus is a wonderful community and I feel fortunate to be a member of it,” Young said. “I believe I have the business skills, management knowledge, and objectivity, by comparing Columbus to the many cities and towns I have traveled to, to help raise her to her full potential economically, technologically and visually.”

Grant Spieth is running unopposed in the Third Ward.

Virgil Buckner is running unopposed in the Fourth Ward.

Connie Bennett and Rodney Oels are running int the Fifth Ward.

Bennett, the incumbent, has lived in Columbus all her life, and said she would like to continue serving the citizens of Columbus.

“I am available not only for my ward, but for all the citizens of Columbus,” Bennett said. “I would like anyone that has a problem to call me. I would be more than happy to help any way I can.”

Bennett said she supports maintaining the streets, water and sewer and lower taxes. She also said she would like to see what can be done to improve the downtown area.

Oels was raised in Northern Arkansas and moved to Columbus in 2004. Oels said he began working at Columbus Telephone in 2007 and was very involved with the Fiber to The Home project.

Oels is a member of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus Community Crusaders. Oels said he has been involved with the Crusaders for some time and has helped bring attention to the city and the grant application process. He also said he is concerned for the well-being of Columbus and wants to be a voice inside the government.

“I believe that if city government and citizens of columbus work together great things can be achieved,” Oels said. “I know I have the communication skills and desire to 'bridge the gap' to make Columbus a prosperous community.”

Current treasurer Doug Mogle is running unopposed.

In school board elections John W. Crain and Tadd N. Lucian are running against each other for position one.

Crain is a farmer who was born and raised, and currently lives with his family in Columbus. Crain said he is an active member of the Columbus community and said he has served on various boards in the community including Farm Bureau and the Center Christian Church Board, where he is currently serving as deacon.

“As a farmer, I have many years of experience working with diverse groups, constantly changing government regulations, limited and varying budgets, along with numerous other issues,” Crain said.

He attended school in, and graduated from, the Columbus school system and currently has two children in Columbus schools and his wife is a teacher in another school district.

“This gives me insight to both sides of the educational system," he said. "(Education is) an important part of my life and gives me a greater appreciation for the importance of education, not only for my children, but all children.”

Lucian, 20, said he has lived in this area his entire life and has his parents as well as grandparents living in Columbus. Lucian currently works at Mobile Advantage-RadioShack as a salesman and is finishing his last semester at Labette Community College before heading to Missouri Southern State University to finish his major in Business and minor in Political Science.

“I’ve always had a love for public service,” Lucian said, “My father represents our ward as the city councilman and my grandpa Lucian has served as a county commissioner for several years, so I guess you can say public service runs in our family.”

Lucian said he was chosen among many other seniors to attend the Robert Dole Institute of Politics during his senior year, where he spent a week in Lawrence learning about state and federal government. He also said he served under State Rep. Doug Gatewood (D-Columbus), and Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebellius as a page.

“Ever since I was in middle school and high school, I have run for any office that I thought I could bring something new to and that I could be of use for,” Lucian said. “I think me being on the board would help balance it. I can bring ideas that are new and fresh.”

Lucian said he believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the board. He said he knows how teachers teach, knows how the staff works because he was in high school two years ago and he knows more than anyone else how people do their jobs. He also says he thinks he will be able to represent the students best as well because he will have an insight on what they want and what they are concerned with.

Holly Stover is running unopposed for position two, Danny Langerot Jr., is running unopposed for position three and Scott Thompson is running unopposed for the at large position.