Patch sent all Arnold City Council candidates identical questionnaires in order to compile candidate profiles prior to the April election. Each candidate who returned the survey will be featured on the site this week alphabetically by ward.
Mary Elizabeth Coleman, 31 (Candidate for Arnold City Council - Ward 2)
- Address: 1020 Sable Lane, Arnold, MO
- Occupation: Attorney at Law, Fellow at Billiken Angels Network, Owner, Pate Coleman Realty, LLC
- Education: Juris Doctor, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX; BSBA, Saint Louis University
- Christopher J. Coleman (St. Pius Alum and SLU Business School, BSBA and Master of Accountancy
- Curtice Coleman, 1st grader at St. Joseph’s Catholic School
- Leavitt Coleman, K at St. Joseph’s Catholic School
- Hayden Coleman, Preschool at Concord Weekly Early Education School
- Johnston Coleman, Preschool at Concord Weekly Early Education
- Larkin Coleman, 18 months
- Years lived in Arnold: 2 +
- Please provide a brief summary of your background, highlighting community involvement if applicable. I was raised in Texas where my Dad helped write the city charter of our small town and ran political campaigns. I joke that I grew up putting out stake signs and attending rallies. I came to Missouri to attend SLU where I met and married my college sweetheart, Chris. We believe that whom much is given much is asked and Chris and I have been blessed to work with a number of charities that focus on children and education. It is important to me as a mother to set an example of giving back to our community.
- Please provide a brief summary of your reasons for running: We have a beautiful community and I want to be a part of a council focused on serving our community and planning for our future. As a lawyer I work every day to creatively solve complex problems. As a small business owner I understand the need for long term planning. As a wife and mother of five I am experienced in balancing conflicts and the needs of many.
1. What do you currently see as the biggest issue facing Arnold?
Our biggest problem facing the city is our failure to plan for the future and address the needs of our community. Adding jobs to our community should be one of the council’s primary goals and if elected, it will be mine. My focus if elected will be to support economic growth, plan for the future infrastructure needs of the city and to bring a fresh voice to to restore professionalism to our council.
2. How do you plan to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars?
As your city council member it is important that lines of communication stay open and the actions of the city are visible to all citizens. I would like to see more transparency and financial information easily accessible on our city website. Our city has been a good steward of the tax dollars provided to it to meet the current needs of our city. However, we have some large infrastructure investments in sight. Our citizens are not all connected to city sewer and water services. Existing sewer systems need upgrading and expansion after 40 years of service. I want to lead a task force to start working on this issue now to help protect our tax and water rates. With advance planning we can not only ensure all our citizens have access to city utilities but also protect our tax and water rates.
3. In what area does the Arnold need to improve? Are you satisfied with the way the city has been operating?
The job of the city council is to listen to citizens and to set policy decisions and planning goals and then to work hard to implement those goals. The city council undermines the reputation of the city when it fails to provide a long-term vision in favor of focusing on personal politics. We can’t let our city take a step back in the wrong direction to the old ways of doing things as one developer referred to Arnold being like “The Hatfields & McCoys.” We need those days to be gone, times have changed, and so has Arnold. The new city council must not focus on personal politics but on providing a long term vision for our city and a plan to get there. We need to continue to be a place that attracts developers and home builders. We need to make sure doing business with the city is a smooth process. We have to look at not only the current but, also the future needs of the city, while still maintaining the small-town atmosphere we all love.
4. Assume you win the election. What thing do you want to accomplish during your time on the council?
As a city we have a big vacancy to fill and the new council will be focused initially on finding someone who can step in and lead as our new city administrator. Collaborating with the rest of the council to find and hire a successful candidate will be the biggest goal that needs to be accomplished in the next year. I know this isn’t bold or visionary. I could propose we build a soccer park, or organize a big new development plan but what the city of Arnold needs right now is not another big new project but city leadership and a council that is able to work together to address the immediate and long term governance needs of our city.
5. Many in the community have expressed discourse over the manner in which the council recently has conducted business. Specifically, community members have asked councilmembers to stop "bickering" and "do the jobs they were elected to do." How to you plan to address this moving forward?
Arnold's growth in the last 10 years has been impressive. The wonderful recreation center, parks, stores and neighborhoods were instrumental in Chris' and my decision to move here in 2010, and continue to add to our family’s quality of life. It is imperative to continue the forward momentum for Arnold. The city council is at a cross roads. As our leaders the council should be solving problems rather then creating them. Our community deserves to be represented by people who are working hard to further growth and plan for the future. It is my intention to do just that. I may or may not like everyone who will be elected or agree with everyone’s opinions, but every person on the council is elected to serve, and it will be my job to find a way to work with everyone on the council for the benefit of our city and our ward.