Voters in Lake Ozark will select three aldermen in the April 8 election. Ward 3 incumbent Jeff Van Donsel has filed for election and is challenged by Gerry Murawski. Here, the candidates address the future of Lake Ozark.

Voters in Lake Ozark will select three aldermen in the April 8 election. Ward 3 incumbent Jeff Van Donsel has filed for election and is challenged by Gerry Murawski. Here, the candidates  address the future of Lake Ozark.

*Editor’s Note: Candidates were given a word limit to adhere to. Answers were not altered in any way. Meet the candidates for Osage Beach Ward 3 in the Thursday Lake Sun.

1. Please give us a little bit about yourself including background, education, public service, volunteer work and of course, your family.
Gerry Murawski: I was born and raised in St Louis, attended Washington University, am an Air Force (Viet Nam Era) veteran. I retired from the printing industry after 35 years.
I was married for 45 years and have two great sons and four wonderful grandchildren. I lost my wife to cancer in 2012 after a long fight.
I have been involved in Lake Ozark for about four years and now serve as chairman of both the TIF Commission and the Utility Commission.

Jeff Van Donsel: Jeff L. Van Donsel, 59, born in Camdenton. Moved to Kansas City as a youngster but was always here at the lake with family while growing up. Retired in 2001 from Fairbanks Morse Pump Corp. as manager of finish Operations after 30 years employ there, purchased a business here in Lake Ozark and moved back to the lake.
My wife, Donna, and I have been married 41 years and have three children. We have nine grandchildren who are at the center of our lives now! Shortly after moving here, I was asked to get involved and have served the city on the Planning and Zoning Board, Utility Board, TIF Commission, Budget Committee, and have served since 2006 as Alderman in Ward 3. I am also a founding member of and on the Board of Directors of the Bagnell Dam Strip Association, and an active member of the Lake Ozark Betterment Committee.

2.  Why do you want to be a Lake Ozark alderman?
Murawski: I am running for Lake Ozark Ward 3 alderman because I believe that I can make a positive difference. I believe that I am forward thinking and believe that the city should have long-range plans for its future. I know what “The Strip” looked like five years ago. Although there have been improvements, there is still much work to do. Some businesses have spent the money to make their property attractive. Others have let their properties decay with little regard for their image. What will it look like five or 10 years in the future? With your vote we can push it in the correct direction. This direction would make “the place where it all began” family friendly and attractive again.

Van Donsel: I chose to run for alderman because I felt I could contribute to the improvement of the city, and felt it would be another good way to give back to the community. I have always liked dealing with and helping people, and also being involved in helping shape our community and being a part of making our city become viable and prosperous, and a place we can be proud to call our hometown.

3. One of the issues that occupied the BOA in 2013 was the possibility of allowing open containers within the city limits, more specifically the Strip.  Do you think LO should allow open containers and explain why.
Murawski: The open container question has received much media attention. I think it should be up to the mayor and the aldermen, with input from the chief of police to determine the ease of control and safety of such a commitment by the city. One must also consider liability issues. I believe that the use of private outdoor seating and serving areas with adequate security are great, but may not fit all occasions. My opinion is that it should be considered for each unique event.

Van Donsel: In regards to the open container issue this past year, there was a legal liability issue that was amicably and legally resolved that would have allowed open containers on the Strip during a closed event. Regretfully, the venue was changed and it did not occur, but I spearheaded the issue and will continue to support the idea of allowing open containers for certain contained events only. All the business owners on the Strip have respectable and responsible businesses, and they all want to do what is prudent to increase their businesses as well as all business on the Strip.
I believe we all want our city to continue to grow and be a true destination for all tourists and local residents, and any ordinance concerning the waiving of the open container laws should first take into consideration that it provides for a safe and sane atmosphere during any such event.

4. Do you think the city is doing enough to encourage business to locate within the city?  Explain:   
Murawski: One can never do enough to encourage businesses to locate within the city. It’s all about marketing your product and that means packaging. Is the old condemned hotel on the Strip attracting new business? We need to make it go away. We did it with Arrowhead Lodge.
Looks are only part of it. Does the city have a message to potential businesses? What is it? Advertise it. Find new business, create jobs and increase property values. The city needs to be business friendly. Our city should be working very closely with the Chamber of Commerce. That is, make it easy for those businesses that are paying taxes to grow, making more money and paying more taxes.

Van Donsel: No. I have long advocated the city does not promote business in our city. There are no budget lines, nor any expenditures, that promote, enhance or encourage new development or investments, and there is no active outreach or enticement by the city, or any city committee to lure them to our community. But, even with our city’s limited resources, there are still things that would help. The city’s Comprehensive Plan is outdated and needs to be updated. The city’s building codes need to be scrutinized and fairly enforced, and grant monies need to be utilized to help expand utilities and needed infrastructure, just to list a few. I have always advocated that the city must invest in and promote itself, because if it does not why should it expect anyone else to do so? I will continue to press for policies that will increase genuine interest in development and investment in Lake Ozark.

5. What do you think are the three most pressing challenges for the city of Lake Ozark near future?
Murawski: All cities have challenges. Lake Ozark is no exception.
Some that may top the list are:
•Continuing to develop the program that brings our infrastructure into compliance with pertinent regulations to provide a solid foundation for the growth of our systems.
•Encourage development of the Rt. 242 corridor.
•Continue the revitalization of the Bagnell Dam Strip.
The biggest challenge is paying for it. Continue to search for funding.

Van Donsel: •Lake Ozark needs to be more business friendly and promoting of development and investors and be more supportive and helpful to the small business interests in our city. Promoting business increases the tax base that provides the funding for city services and allows continued improvements to the infrastructure such as improving the roads and right of ways in our city, and the need to enhance and be more supportive of investments in the residential areas of our city.
•We need to continue building the city reserves, but need to adopt and adhere to a strategic plan to reduce the city’s debt ratio.   
•We need to continue the work and the cooperation that is getting our city focused in a positive direction that benefits the city in every way.

6.  Final thoughts: 
Murawski: Let’s end the “Good Old Boy” pervasiveness and allow the city of Lake Ozark to sparkle.

Van Donsel: It has been my honor and pleasure having been your representative as alderman in Ward 3. I am glad to say that we have a productive board of aldermen that works well together and shares a common goal for the continued betterment of our great little city.     
I am seeking re-election to continue to push for positive changes so our city can better serve all its citizens, and to aggressively work to establish policies that enhance the promotion of our city, and increasing the support for improvements in our residential neighborhoods.
Our lake area is known for its exceptional schools, its supportive businesses and its caring and community oriented churches. I will continue to work to make the city of Lake Ozark become a viable and progressive entity so it can respectfully join other lake communities to cooperatively work on the common issues that affect us all here at the Lake of the Ozarks.