Sonny Thornhill is a veteran and served on the Monticello City Council, representing Ward 3, from 2001 – 2003.
This is the third in a series of candidate profiles of the five candidates for Monticello mayor. Each candidate is running in a special election in June to complete the term of the late mayor Allen Maxwell which ends on December 31. They are also running in the November General Election for the upcoming 4-year term which begins January 1, 2015. In this series of unedited interviews, candidates were asked to respond in writing to 12 questions. The series will run through Saturday.
SEARK TODAY: Do you think there are budget areas in which the city is spending too much and/or not enough money? Explain.
THORNHILL: I am concerned about the amount of money spent on the new water meters and how long it will take us to recover the money from this expense. I also believe we need to be more proactive on repaving the city streets and make sure we are using materials that will last, so it is not needed every five years. Sometimes paying more upfront using better materials saves money.
SEARK TODAY: Do you anticipate a need to increase city water, garbage and/or sewer rates during the next four years?
THORNHILL: I believe it will more than likely be necessary to pay for the ten million dollars in water meter upgrades.
SEARK TODAY: Would you support or oppose an initiative to get the wet/dry issue on the ballot in Marion Township? Why?
THORNHILL: As the Mayor, I would support the will of the people on the issue. I would not oppose nor support the initiative.
SEARK TODAY: How would you build consensus in a community with a broad range of competing interests and demands?
THORNHILL: I believe that there is a need for more community involvement and if I have to spend a little more time getting out and speaking to the people of Monticello to bring this involvement about, then that is what I will do.
SEARK TODAY: Do you have a four-year plan, illustrating your vision for the city, in the event you are elected? If so, what are the primary points in that plan? Be as concise as possible.
THORNHILL: At any given time UAM has one third of the population of Monticello attending classes and it is the largest employer in the city, therefore making Monticello more UAM student friendly is a responsible idea for both the city and the university. If businesses are more student friendly, e.g. student coupons and discounts, then it will be better for UAM, the business and the city of Monticello e.g. tax revenue. More and happier students mean more jobs at the university and more revenue for the city. We are a college town and we need more entertainment for our UAM students and our Monticello families.
We need more small businesses, and I believe a Makers Space, would help. A Makers Space is a place that the city owns, through grants and buys machinery for businesses to share at a cost to help small manufacturers get started to reduce the amount of overhead, to start generating income and grow their business and staff. More employees mean more tax revenue for the city.
I believe that with more entertainment and a 10 to 20 year plan Monticello could be the new entertainment capital of the south, supplanting Branson. We have to think ahead not just forward.
SEARK TODAY: Explain why you chose to run as a Democrat, Republican or independent (whichever applies to you)?
THORNHILL: I believe that on a municipal level that everyone should be an independent and not bound by party lines. I want to be able to reach across all tables and work with the people of Monticello to make this a better place for our children to live.
SEARK TODAY: Describe the ideal mayor.
THORNHILL: I believe an ideal mayor is one who listens to all citizens’ problems and concerns and does not dismiss them because of his/her own feelings on an issue. Everyone is important. The ideal mayor should make decisions that benefit the city as a whole not just a small interest group. Someone that is respectful of all constituents and in turn gains respect. Someone that makes informed and well educated decisions based on well-founded information. One who plans for the future and is not just running around putting out fires. Someone that seeks community involvement so no citizen is left out of the process.
SEARK TODAY: What can you bring to this position your opponents cannot?
THORNHILL: I not only have knowledge of government, but sound leadership through the military and the civilian world the ability to express direction. I believe my experience of being on the city council first, gives more validity and insight to the office. I have lived in Monticello my entire life and I believe my knowledge of city government and my knowing a large part of the population of Monticello that I bring the best possible choice for mayor of Monticello. I truly love and care about the city of Monticello.
SEARK TODAY: If your name was not on the ballot, which one of your opponents would you vote for and why?
THORNHILL: I would vote for the opponent that best showed their ability to reach all sectors of the community and showed a true passion for the people of Monticello and a drive to make the community better for everyone.
Situational (Hypothetical) Questions:
SEARK TODAY: You have $1 million. You can (hypothetically) appropriate it to any one or all of the following areas: Economic Development, Recreation, Capital Improvements, and/or Infrastructure. How would you appropriate it and why?
THORNHILL: If allowed I would first use it to pay off existing debt. If not I would use it to repave as many roads as possible. Unfortunately $1 million dollars is not a large sum of money on the municipal level.
SEARK TODAY: A heated city council meeting begins to get out of control. How do you address it?
THORNHILL: I would first use my position as mayor and Roberts Rules of Order to bring the meeting to proper order. I would use a calm diplomatic head to calm everyone down and if that does not work I would have the chief or whatever officer was present to escort the unruly party or parties out of the meeting.
SEARK TODAY: Two of your strongest supporters come to you, with competing interests, asking for your support. How do you respond?
THORNHILL: I would take all competing views into account and make the best choice based on what was best for everyone. There is a need in government for compromise of all sides and a middle ground because no one gets their way all of the time.