By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
In recent years, Liberal seems to be following a national trend with the local economy going south. To help better stimulate the local business market, city commission candidate John Blackmore would like to bring more industry to the community.
One of Blackmore’s primary focal points – if elected – will be to increase the amount and types of businesses in the community.
“One industry out here is not going to cut it,” he said. “Everybody in this town says National Beef’s going to keep us running. What happens if it goes south? Liberal’s going to be a ghost town. We need more industry in town.”
Blackmore referred to industries Liberal had in past years, such as Beech Aircraft, Trade Winds and Ideal Warehouse.
“Then, National Beef came in, and the other industries just slowly started going (away),” he said. “Rock Island was going heavily. All that’s went out of town. Liberal started dwindling, and it’s still dwindling. We need to get more in here because we’ve got people without jobs. I want to see Liberal prosper in industry.”
Blackmore is one of eight candidates running for three seats on the Liberal City Commission, and he feels he was called to run for the position.
“Ten months ago, I had a quadruple bypass,” he said. “I was back home within four days of having open heart surgery. I’ve sat here all these years. I tried to run one time, didn’t get it done.”
Blackmore talked with his wife, and after that conversation, that is when he decided to pursue a seat on the commission.
“I’ve been here all my life,” he said. “I’ve seen the good. I’ve seen the bad. I’ve heard people say they’ve done this or they’ve done that.”
Blackmore said no one person can do the business of the commission.
“You’ve got five on a commission,” he said. “You vote on it, but the others help you vote for it. You’ve got to show that you were out there physically, and that you’ve done it.”
Blackmore also looks at running for the commission as a challenge – from a higher power.
“God put me to the challenge after this open heart surgery to see if I could handle the stress and to prove to myself that I’m worth something – a common working person that can accomplish something if they try – to show myself that I can do something else,” he said.
If he is elected, Blackmore would like to work with local and state law enforcement and government to work with youth and cut down on gang problems in Liberal.
“Sit down and talk with them,” he said speaking of local youth. “Don’t send the police out for them. Sit there as a group as equals.”
As part of his vision, Blackmore would also like to see Liberal prosper and grow.
“To see it look like it did years ago where people could walk out of their houses, leave their house unlocked and have comfort,” he said. “We don’t have that anymore.”
Blackmore said while Liberal has changed marketably in recent years, more needs to be seen.
“With the rec center coming in, that’s some place for the kids to go and get them off the street,” he said.
As a commissioner, Blackmore said the Soldiers For Christ ministry will continue to be his main objective.
“We helped 114 kids last year and 35 families,” he said. “We spent roughly close to $9,000. We gave each kid a Christmas toy, gift wrapped, two sets of clothing, and we gave each family a week’s worth of groceries. That’s where I get to play biker Santa.”
As vice president of the local motorcycle ministry, Blackmore said youth and families will be a large focus of his time as a commissioner.
“We help needy families,” he said. “I love helping the kids, and that’s the main objective in this town.”