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Controversial Candidate Takes Stand Against Corruption in Smithville.

 Controversial Candidate Takes Stand Against City Corruption in Bid for Smithville Ward 1 Alderwoman.

As the municipal elections approach in April, Kristine Bunch emerges as a controversial candidate of questionable background. Despite this, she maintains a staunch stance against city corruption and alleged shady dealings involving real estate developers and corporate tax increment financing (TIF) giveaways concerning the 110 Smithville LLC, downtown development project. Running for Ward 1 Alderwoman, Bunch vows to bring transparency and accountability to city governance.

The campaign highlights a range of issues plaguing Smithville, including the controversial allocation of funds for sewer capacity expansion. The city administration is seeking over $6 million for increased sewer capacity through Certificate of Participation (COP) investments, purportedly to benefit developers associated with entities like McDonald’s and Boley. Bunch questions the fairness of such investments, particularly when her opponents and current Aldermen like Shipley are allegedly involved in the development and crowdfunding efforts.

One of the central concerns raised by Bunch is the lack of citizen representation in critical city meetings, such as those of the Finance Committee and the Community Center Committee. She asserts that important decisions are being made behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny.

The upcoming Aldermen Meeting on April 1st is expected to address a myriad of issues, including water and sewer rate increases that have skyrocketed by over 83% since 2020. Bunch criticizes the current Aldermen for their apparent rubber-stamping of agendas, potentially neglecting citizens' best interests.

The misuse of city funds is another pressing issue highlighted by Bunch. She alleges that the General Fund is being used as a slush fund with little to no accountability, while employee compensation packages are bloating, leaving essential services like the police department underpaid.

Moreover, Bunch raises concerns about the lack of accountability regarding city contracts, the dramatic increase in the City Administrator’s salary package, and the neglect of infrastructure maintenance, with reports of water and sewer lines frequently breaking.

The contentious issue of real estate development also takes center stage in Bunch's campaign. She points to instances of incomplete roadwork and sidewalks, mismatched townhomes, and escalating commercial rents, which she attributes to the lax regulation by the current Aldermen.

Bunch further accuses elected and appointed officials of seeking investors for projects they stand to benefit from financially, highlighting potential conflicts of interest.

In response to criticisms against her, including a failed petition drive attempt for a financial audit that only collected 22 signatures, Bunch remains resolute, stating, "I am committed to fighting for the citizens of Smithville and ensuring that their voices are heard."

The election campaign, however, has not been without its controversies, with critics pointing to Bunch's past legal troubles, including lawsuits, bankruptcy filings, and allegations of not paying former employees. However, Bunch remains undeterred, focusing on her vision for a more transparent and accountable city government.

As the elections draw nearer, Smithville residents find themselves at a critical juncture, with the choice between preserving the status quo or embracing change and reform advocated by Kristine Bunch.