Tobacco-Free Advocate, Incumbent Face Off in District V

Tobacco-Free Advocate, Incumbent Face Off in District V

St. Joseph voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to elect a new city council. In District V, it's incumbent Barbara LaBass against Mary Attebury. Their differences run much deeper than the smoking ban debate.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In District V, it's a race between a tobacco-free advocate making her first run at office against a two-term incumbent.

Between Mary Attebury and Barbara LaBass, there's more than a smoke-free ban to talk about.

The smoking ban debate is just one area the two candidates disagree on. Attebury is a strong advocate of the ban and is a former Health Director for the City of St. Joseph and currently administrator of Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center.

"We're not progressive," Attebury said. "We are a decade behind in so many areas. Other communities are so much farther along in terms of health. I have conviction about making this a healthier community."

LaBass is against the ban partially because she thinks the law is too intrusive.

"I think that people are becoming very concerned about the way government is infringing in on all of our lives," I admire people who's hearts are in the right place and they want to see our town be better. I do think, though, it's a decision that should be left up to businesses."

Public forums have shown one of the major concerns of voters this election is the streets and roads of St. Joseph and where to find the money to fix them. The two District V candidates see the problem differently.

"I think right now we have to look for money in the current budget," LaBass said. "It's simply because I believe the citizens of St. Joseph have made it pretty clear to me that they are taxed out."

Attebury believes there is no money in the current budget to move over to road repair.

"We haven't done a good job of looking at our budget and finding other revenue sources," she said. "I worked for the city for 10 1/2 years. I know there's not a big pot of money sitting over there we can just pull money from."

As the community continues its struggles to rebound from the recession, there is a disagreement between the candidates about how to assist those being left behind.

"She (LaBass) is not a big supporter of people who are impoverished," said Attebury of her opponent. "We have a lot of people meet the criteria and definition of poverty."

LaBass believes government should be there to help people help themselves.

"If we care about the impoverished, I think the way to help impoverished is to give people opportunities, not just keep impoverishing them," she said. "I believe in giving people a hands up."

Where the two candidates do agree is that being a member of the city council means responding to constituents.

"If I'm elected, it is going to be four years of talking to the constituents in my district and finding out what's best for our community," Attebury said. "I'm going to make those decisions not based on because if it's popular or unpopular because I know unpopular decisions have to be made. Work has to be done."

"I just love talking to the people," said LaBass. "I love working with the people and I love it when I can help them. I get very down when they come in and there's an issue that I make no headway on."

LaBass says she's also proud of her work to keep the 139th Air Wing of the Air National Guard in St. Joseph and a new retail district that includes a Menards.

Attebury says she's more than just a one-issue candidate.

All St. Joseph city council seats will be up for election next Tuesday, April 8.

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