Mike Powers: 'I did not say we're going to cut taxes'
Candidate Mike Powers, running unopposed for mayor, wouldn’t make promises on how to improve honesty, transparency, and civility in city government.
Everybody wants that, but doing it is harder than saying it, Powers said.
He thinks the city should focus on promoting itself as somewhere people want to come.
“There are a lot of things I want to address quickly,” he said.
Employees need to understand they need to treat people respectfully.
The same goes for council members, so it won’t happen that one member brings something up and others don’t listen to what that one says.
Listening is the key to learning things, Powers said. As mayor he thinks he can intervene when council members are at odds and ask one to clarify for the other when they disagree.
“I did not say that we’re going to cut taxes, because I’m not sure we can,” Powers said.
He thinks the mayor and city administrator should look at how department heads are spending money in their budgets. Having a series of meetings with the mayor and administrator would help accomplish that, he said.
The city needs to set spending benchmarks and examine whether everything is what department heads think they need, are happy with, and think they can live with, Powers said.
A council has an obligation to spend enough time to do that, Powers said, but
“Issues should not be brought up and voted on immediately,” Powers said.
Perhaps meetings need to be restructured to allow council members to discuss issues at one meeting and voting on them at a subsequent meeting, Powers said.
“I want to spend a lot of time identifying what we need to address and how we’re going to address them,” Powers said.
Before raising taxes or utility rates, comparing what other cities do would be a good idea, he said. If revenue needs to be raised, utility rates are where he would look first.
Building a reserve fund and using it for reserves instead of spending it isn’t always easy. However, he wouldn’t want a system in which a city clerk would need council permission to buy a ream of paper.
The city has received unwanted attention because of a police raid on the office of the Marion County Record and the homes of its co-owners and Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel.
“I think there was a period of time there was a perfect storm for Marion,” Powers said. “One of the things is that we didn’t have a city administrator.”
In rapid sequence last December, Marion’s police chief, assistant police chief, and city clerk resigned. Soon afterward, former city administrator Mark Skiles was terminated.
Mayor David Mayfield told council members the city should focus on hiring a clerk first, a police chief second, and an administrator third. Council members did not question that.
As to former police chief Gideon Cody, the easy answer to when he should have been suspended is “the day after he was hired,” Powers said.
If not then, as soon as it became obvious he had done something that was not legal.
Powers said if he had been the one to suspend Cody, he would have told the public why he’d decided that.
With the model of Marion’s city government not being standard in state guidelines, Powers said the first thing to do would be to identify what the problems are.
“We’ve got to do it,” he said. “It is easier to take a look at our form of government. I would be open to changing our form of government.”
He’d also be open to community discussion of what sort of government the city has.
Powers is involved with both Marion Advancement Campaign and Marion Kiwanis and would like to study what the proper relationship between the organizations ought to be.
Last modified Nov. 1, 2023