Josh McArdle is in the mood for change.
For example, when he moved to town in 2006, he noticed his sewer lines drained slowly, usually because of issues with the sewer main.
“And it’s always been a problem,” he said.
McArdle is a proponent of the city taking on large-scale replacement projects instead of patching water lines, with the thought that spending more now will pay off down the road.
“If you’re consistently getting the same problems over and over, maybe you need to try a different solution instead of just patchwork,” he said.
With that in mind, McArdle is hoping to instigate changes around Iola as a member of the City Council.
He is challenging Mark Peters for a Council seat to represent Iola’s Ward 4, which covers the southeast quarter of town. Voters will have their pick between the two in the Nov. 2 general election.
McArdle works in the IT department at Monarch Cement Co., a job that relies on a skillset that should prove beneficial to a city council member, he said.
“Problem solving is a strong suit in IT,” he said. “And I’ve done a lot of it. We want additional ideas. Maybe there’s something different we could do.”
McArdle moved to Iola to attend Allen Community College, “and I liked it so much I just never left,” he joked.
Iola fits the ideal standard, the Pleasanton native continued. “It has lots of good things,” but without the trappings of a metropolitan area.
McArdle touched on other areas of interest when it comes to city business, two of which center on housing and infrastructure.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years, and I haven’t seen much improvement in that time,” he opined. “I want to see if I can help in any way.”
McArdle says the city should pursue grant funding for large-scale infrastructure improvements, which should curb Iola’s utility bills in the long run.
“It seems like our utilities are always higher than others in the area,” he said. “Some of that is we’re constantly having to do maintenance.”
MCARDLE, who was married earlier this month — wife Elizabeth is administrative assistant at Wesley United Methodist Church — said he didn’t give much thought about the town in which he lived.
“But once I hit 30 a few years ago, I figured I needed to start paying attention,” he said.
He began watching livestream videos of Council meetings and reading minutes of previous Council sessions to get a better grasp of the issues facing the city.
“Some of their decisions I agreed with, and others I didn’t,” he said.
With the proper avenues — and funding — McArdle sees a city of potential in Iola.
“I see a lot of vacant buildings, vacant housing, that can be turned into affordable housing, or utilized for small business,” he said. “I’m a big believer in small business. If there’s a local restaurant, I’m gonna eat there before I eat anything out of a chain restaurant. I prefer to buy locally. We love the farmers markets.”
He hopes Iola can retain a strong working relationship with Allen County, even though the two entities are slated to split their ambulance services in 2022.
“Once you burn that bridge, you don’t have any help in keeping things going,” he said. “It’s beneficial for both the county and city to try to remain friendly and work together, in any scenario that can continue to help the people.”
McArdle also would like to see the city institute a payment plan for residents with past-due utility bills.
“I understand a city has to be able to make money, but I think it’s a little abrupt” to shut off a customer’s utilities, McArdle said. Except for repeat offenders, he prefers to see the city extend payment plans to help stem Iola’s population loss
“If you’re just kicking people out, they’re just gonna go someplace else,” he said.
McArdle also endorses a proactive approach to governance.
Seek out the public’s opinion, regardless of whether they show up to a meeting, he said.
“A lot of people don’t speak up because they don’t think they’ll be noticed at those meetings,” he said. “And a lot of people work during those meetings.”
He encouraged folks with concerns, in turn, to speak up, either by notes to the Council, by making telephone calls, or sending messages via social media.