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Candidates questions: John Moncure

Camden City Council race

Posted: October 20, 2016 5:20 p.m.
Updated: October 21, 2016 1:00 a.m.

John Moncure

In an effort to provide as equal a forum as possible, the C-I recently reached out to all the candidates running for Camden City Council by sending out questionnaires. The candidates were asked to answer all questions in their own words and the C-I tried to edit the answers as little as possible; most edits were done for space issues only.

Here are the candidates in their own words.  


Q: Why are you running?

A:  When a friend approached me about running for Council I realized that I’d been taking the easier position of sitting on the sidelines. I’ve lived many places and love Camden. I know I have the passion, experience, and skills to contribute to the good of my community.


Q: What experience do you bring to the position?

A:  At 23, as a young army officer, I was responsible for the lives and welfare of over 40 soldiers—and their families—deployed along the Czech border. Throughout my military service I managed every aspect of life in increasing levels of responsibility. The army gave me an international perspective and helped me develop cultural awareness. It taught me leadership, management, and the critical thinking skills that I want to contribute to our great community.

As a school administrator I manage directly or oversee strategic planning, human resources, finance, facilities, curriculum development, faculty development, and fundraising, and work with an elected board.

I taught leadership at Davidson College and currently teach a course in leadership for school administrators.

Critical thinking skills -- I ask why things are the way they are and why they have to be that way. I earned a PhD in European history because of my curiosity about and passion for the world around me.

Sense of Honor: As a cadet at The Citadel and at West Point I embraced a stringent code of honor that has guided me to this day.


Q: What personal information would you like to include about yourself, such as family, education, career, civic involvement, church affiliation, etc.

A:  My wife Anne and I have three grown children and six grandchildren. I’ve served as President of the Kershaw County Historical Society and First Steps of Kershaw County. I’ve chaired the Education Committee of United Way’s Community Care Councils and serve on the United Way board. I’ve been president of an international Montessori professional society eleven times. In each case, more than being proud of having been elected, I was humbled by the responsibility the position entailed. I would have the same reaction if elected to Camden City Council.


Q: What makes your background and experience so uniquely suited to the job?

A:  Decades of military service, extensive international experience living and working in diverse cultures, experience as a historian, researcher, and author, and extensive service on non-profit boards of directors. I have also enjoyed daily interaction with children, parents, faculty, and the community in my work at the Montessori school—personal experiences that bear on the important work of guiding the City of Camden.


Q: What are some issues/problems you want to work on to solve or accomplishments you wish to achieve?

A: The city, with its Comprehensive Plan, is already on a solid path to assuring a prosperous future. As that plan evolves, we must focus on developing a vibrant downtown area, and collaborate effectively with county government and the regional council of governments for creative and effective results. I look forward to tackling issues of housing, both the slow resale of existing homes and also the availability of moderately priced homes, whose occupancy near the downtown area will increase the use of its restaurants and shops.


Q:  What is your number one goal – that is, if you could only accomplish one thing in one term, what would it be and why do you believe it is so important?

A:  To engage more people in the civic life of Camden. We have a personal stake in the health of our city. A small number carries the load for us all. With a population of 7,000, we are too few to pretend we can act in isolation. We are only as strong as the most vulnerable members of our community. Poverty, illness, and hopelessness affect us all. I would encourage us to see ourselves as a single community, as friends, as neighbors, as colleagues, with a common understanding of what progress means to Camden.


Q:  The campaign has been ongoing for several months now. Undoubtedly you have been out meeting people and trying to find out what is important to them. What are some insights you have gained with this experience? How is what you have learned comparing/contrasting with any preconceived notions you may have held?

A:  My perception that the city is moving in the right direction was reinforced. I also think the positive initiatives are not seen in some parts of the city and need to be uniformly applied. The city also needs more effective methods of communicating its plans. I was also surprised to learn that many people depend very much on Camden—often believing they are residents when they are not—and the city depends on them as well. This is true not only of the immediate neighborhoods with the same zip code, but also the entire county. City strategy needs to take that relationship into account. Third, and not surprisingly, I heard many complaints about the utility bills. Here, too, I have found an opportunity to explore the value proposition, to ensure that the residents understand exactly what they get for their fee, how that burden compares with other municipalities, and the benefits we receive from the city administration.


Q:  What’s the most recent book you have read and/or movie you have seen?

A:  Most recently I re-read Defining Moments, by Harvard Professor of Business Ethics Joseph Badaracco, for the Montessori administration course I teach. I recommend it to everyone—leaders in particular—as it examines the ethical dilemma of right versus right, as opposed to the much simpler question of right versus wrong. Leading up to the elections Anne and I are watching reruns of movies with political themes, most recently Dave, Wag the Dog, and City Hall. These cautionary tales remind me of the weighty responsibility of holding public office, not only how political decisions affect the lives of one’s constituents, but how easy to lose sight of why elected officials exist: to do what is right for the community.


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