This is one of nine candidate profiles to be featured before the upcoming Nov. 7 city election in Newton. Matthew Holmes is one of five candidates running for the at-large city council seat.
Name: Matthew Holmes
Employment: Magnum Automotive
Hometown: Powersite, Mo. (20 miles east of Branson)
Years of Newton residency: 13
What do you feel is the most important issue Newton will be facing during your term on the city council?
It is hard to predict what issues are going to arise in the future. What I do believe will be important is making sure the city council and our city leaders are as transparent as possible. I have heard concerns from many residents that they question the motives behind a significant amount of the council’s decisions. When the council is spending the taxpayers’ money, the taxpayers deserve the right and courtesy of knowing why the council is doing what they are doing. The citizens have the ability to go to newtongov.org and view the minutes of previous meetings to understand more, but they should be made as aware as possible ahead of time. They trust the council to do what’s in the best interest of the citizens so they should be made aware ahead of time to raise potential concerns.
What do you think has been the biggest achievement for the City of Newton in the last four years and what do you think has been the greatest struggle?
I believe the biggest achievement that Newton has made over not only the last four years but the last decade is showing its tenacity. The overwhelming ability of the people to take a punch in the gut with Maytag leaving years ago and continue to persevere and dig in to make this town as great as it is today. There is still a lot to be done but if we continue to work together we can grow and get better. I believe the greatest struggle we have faced is the lack of well-paying jobs. We need to do what we can to bring industry back to Newton. Trinity and TPI have been great for this town but we need more. We need to offer more in this town to avoid being a bedroom community unless that is what we are striving to become? Jobs here is what it takes to grow. Jobs brings in families. Jobs bring an increase in tax dollars. Jobs are paramount.
What role do you think the city can and should play in economic development? What more/less should the city be doing for economic development?
Unfortunately, the role the city can and should be playing has been decreased with the decision to hand over the responsibility to the Newton Development Corporation. So going into the future I would like to see a step by step action plan to show how the council is holding the NDC accountable in the short term and long term.
Housing has been a major focus for the city in recent years. How do you see the efforts continuing and what ideas do you have for future growth?
Housing needs to continue to be a huge focus. The D&D program is great if it is used in the manner in which it is being promoted, to beautify Newton and increase curb appeal. But we need to make sure those lots are filled with affordable housing. The Fairmeadows North Plat is a great example. But ultimately houses can’t be paid for without jobs for the residents. So those two things have to go hand in hand.
Do you think there is an area in Newton the city should be focusing on that has not received attention?
It is my humble opinion the city needs to start planning for our youth. The parks department is where that comes into play. We have facilities the youth use that consistently get overlooked. If we were to renovate the Agnes Patterson Complex there is not only a great place for kids to continue to enjoy summer sports but to also provide an additional source of income for the city through multiple potential sports tournaments that would have families staying in our hotels, shopping at our stores and eating at our restaurants. This is a lost source of recreation and income that has been overlooked for years.
Why do you want to be on city council and why should voters choose you to represent Newton?
For years I have had the privilege of serving a large portion of our communities children through multiple sports and activities in Newton, including the Newton Little League, Newton Girls Softball Association, I am the Vice President of the Berg Middle School PTSA, and various activities through the YMCA of Newton. The one thing I have been blessed with is a servant’s heart and a strong set of morals that were instilled in me from my parents and grandparents. With that being said I decided to take it a step further and try and serve the entire community by running for city council. The job of a council member is to accomplish to the best of their ability what the residents of this great town want accomplished. I have said from the beginning that the peoples’ voice is what matters. So I hope that I will be given the privilege of serving this community, because it is our city ... your vote.