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The Carthage Press
  • Candidates speak at forum

  • Voters will return to the polls in a week to choose city council members in Carthage and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce wants the voters to know who they are voting for or against.
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  • Voters will return to the polls in a week to choose city council members in Carthage and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce wants the voters to know who they are voting for or against.
    The Chamber hosted a candidate forum on Tuesday morning at the Carthage Water and Electric Plant Community room.
    Jake Heisten, chairman of the Chamber's public policy committee, led the discussion and encouraged people to get out and vote.
    "Please, talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, talk to your co-workers," Heisten said. "Every election is very important. There are decisions being made at the Carthage city hall that will directly affect the lives of every citizen in Carthage."
    Two of four candidates vying for two city council seats, and one of three candidates running unopposed for three other seats, spoke at the forum.
    Incumbent Jim Swatsenbarg, 601 Howard St., running for the Ward 1 seat that is up for grabs on April 2, touted his background as a reason to reelect him to office.
    "It is wide-ranging and and for that reason I think it makes me especially qualified as a candidate for council," Swatsenbarg said. "First, I have roots here, my mother was born in Carthage and my dad was born not far away. They each followed jobs to California, they met, married and had four children out there. I can't tell you how many times I rode the mother road back and forth from here, but I can tell you the first time was in a 1941 Ford with a water bag hanging on the front bumper."
    Swatsenbarg talked about his varied careers in construction, law enforcement, hotel and motel management and renovation, and as a building inspector for the city of Carthage and an electrical inspector for Carthage Water and Electric Plant.
    Swatsenbarg's opponent, Trevor Smith, was not at the forum.
    Steve Liebbrand, 1654 Connor Dr., candidate for the third ward seat he currently holds, also could not attend the forum because of a commitment with the U.S. Army, but Lynda Homa read a statement from him.
    "A relevant factor in my decision to run again is my belief that we have a strong city council with a great mix of young and older talents, all with the best interests of Carthage at heart," Liebbrand said. "I feel my work for the city is not finished. I stand ready to continue my service to the great people of Carthage, Mo and to honorably represent the third Ward."
    Liebbrand talked about the many projects going on around town to improve the city, from the development of a disc golf course in Kellogg Lake Park, to the development of a bicycle trail in Walnut Bottoms, to the discussion about a second fire station in the south part of the city and many more.
    Page 2 of 2 - Liebbrand's opponent, Mike Hutton, 709 Florence St., did not attend the event.
    Ed Hardesty, who is running unopposed for the fifth ward seat, decided to talk about his love for Carthage and its people.
    "One evidence of that was last July, I won't dwell on it, I had a slight injury and everyone came out, even people I didn't know, to offer to help," Hardesty said. "I had some friends build a ramp so my wife could roll me to doctor's appointments. I'm back on my feet, back ready to spend another two years serving the citizens."

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