Monica Macfarlane, graduate program coordinator and department head administrator for the grain science and industry department, is running for a seat on the Manhattan City Commission.
Macfarlane said she is running because she has always been passionate about public service.
“I’ve always been busy,” Macfarlane said. “I find that most of the time, people don’t usually have time for everything. They just make the time. If that’s what they’re passionate about, they’ll make the time for it.”
The Army gave Macfarlane and her husband ten days to find housing after arriving in Manhattan in 2011. Macfarlane said her experience renting without a housing inspection program inspired her interest in implementing a stronger one.
“The front porch ended up sinking … the chimney had severe structural issues,” Macfarlane said. “The walls down in the basement, some of them were cracked so bad that when it rained water would come gushing in. … This was the first place I have lived where there wasn’t a rental inspection program. Over 63 percent of Manhattan rents. Why, when such a large portion of our population is renters, don’t we have things in place to make sure that their housing is safe and healthy?”
Macfarlane said the rental inspection program in place now fails to address issues before tenants move in.
“I have pushed that I believe that renting out a home is no longer a personal dwelling. It’s a business,” Macfarlane said. “Just like any other business, it should be licensed and inspected for health and safety issues.”
If elected to the city commission, Macfarlane said she plans to address this issue among many others.
“There are a lot of other issues in the town that we have that are also major concerns for me. We’re in a period of economic stagnation,” Macfarlane said. “How many students actually stay in Manhattan after they graduate? Hardly any. It’s because the jobs aren’t here for them to stay, so they leave.”
Macfarlane said developing Manhattan’s riverfront would address infrastructure issues and help bring in different industries and jobs.
“There’s a lot of potential sitting there — we just haven’t tapped into it,” Macfarlane said. “I think a lot of that is making sure that people feel welcomed — like they’re part of the community. If you’re ignoring them and putting them in unsavory conditions, I don’t think that they feel that way.”
Macfarlane said the lack of a permanent polling place on campus is a disservice to students, and she is working to change that regardless of whether she is elected.
“I know a lot of people vote in their hometowns, but you’re living here for the four years that you’re here as a student,” Macfarlane said. “I think the county absolutely should have a polling location here in all of the election years, not just the presidential election years, but the local ones too.”
Since filing to run, Macfarlane said she attends the commission meetings to ask questions.
Laurie Johnson, professor of political science and director of the primary texts certificate, worked with Macfarlane on her campaign and said she has seen how much Macfarlane cares about the issues.
“Monica is very smart, particularly at this level of policy and budget,” Johnson said. “She goes to the meetings, she reads the documents, she studies what other cities do. She can draw from that knowledge to deal with very specific concrete problems that Manhattan has. If she got elected, she’d be somebody who actually did her homework.”
The election takes place Nov. 2, but eligible voters can vote early from now until election day. More information about Macfarlane is available on her campaign website.