Third candidate files for mayoral race
A late filing ensured DeSoto voters will have two decisions to make during a February primary for city offices.
Mary Guntert filed for mayor Tuesday morning, just hours before the filing deadline. DeSoto City Councilman Duke Neeland and DeSoto Planning Commission Chairman Dave Anderson filed for the office earlier this month.
The race for the two expiring city council seats got more crowded when DeSoto businesswoman Diana Zwahlen filed last week. She joins a field that includes Emil Urbanek, Joe Cannon, Max Atwell, Clyde Sanders and incumbent Tim Maniez.
A Feb. 27 primary will be needed to trim the number of mayoral candidates to two and the city council slate to four. The general election is April 3.
Guntert, who currently sits on the DeSoto Planning Commission, is a past member of the DeSoto City Council. She said she would advocate the same things in her campaign that she has worked for in the past. Keying on an issue common to others running for city office, Guntert called for improved infrastructure.
"The city's infrastructure can no longer adequately serve the current demands," she said. "Immediate action needs to take place on upgrades and alternatives."
Infrastructure shortcomings are restricting economic growth, she said.
Another concern Guntert shares with candidates who filed for city council during the past two weeks is greater openness in city government.
"DeSoto city business should be done in City Hall, in full view of the citizens," she said. "DeSoto's citizens are our greatest asset. They should be well informed, involved and served to the best of our ability."
Zwahlen said she believes the council should do everything possible to ensure that those attending council meetings learn as much as council members about issues presented in open session. Too often, she said, residents are left in the dark when presenters give documents only to council members or give presentations with their backs to the audience.
Atwell said he "doesn't have a big ax to grind," but suggested the city council make a sign-up sheet available to residents who would like to speak on a topic on the agenda.
"I don't want meetings to drag on forever, but think people should be able to speak for three or four minutes if the took the trouble to come to a meeting," he said. "The thing I would like to work on is keeping meetings as open as possible."
Atwell, who served on the DeSoto school board for 20 years, said the council needs to provide a "vision" to address the city's infrastructure needs. That would be done through more comprehensive planning, he said.
The city is currently "running in the react mode" when dealing with infrastructure demands, Urbanek said. He, too, said the city needed to develop a comprehensive plan about how it will address existing and coming infrastructure needs.
Urbanek, a retired IBM computer repairman, is seeking public office for the first time. He said he would like to see city council members elected from precincts rather than through at-large elections.
Cannon served on the city council from 1993 to 1997. He said he is running this year because he enjoyed his time of the council.
"I have more time now," he said. "I'd like to help work on water and sewer improvements water mostly. I'd like to see what we can do with the Sunflower water plant."