After working in an assortment of public service positions over the past few decades, John Hark has set his sights on yet another way to serve the residents of Marion County, as the next Western District commissioner.

After working in an assortment of public service positions over the past few decades, John Hark has set his sights on yet another way to serve the residents of Marion County, as the next Western District commissioner.

“I guess after 40 years of serving the public it’s an opportunity to serve the public maybe a little more,” said Hark, who announced his plans to run at the September meeting of the county’s Democratic Central Committee. “It’s an opportunity to help the county and help the people of the county, if they see fit to elect me.”

Hark’s intentions to run were finalized after learning the incumbent, Randy Spratt, was not seeking re-election.

“It’s always been a policy of mine not to run against any of the people I’ve worked for, but since Mr. Spratt is retiring it opens up a seat,” he said.

Hark points to his extensive job experience in transportation as being an asset on the commission.

“I worked 30 years for the city of Hannibal as street superintendent so I fully understand roads, bridges, culverts and their importance,” he said. “Any time you’re talking about transportation it’s vitally important.”

Hark’s past work knowledge is not limited to roads and bridges.

“I was a reserve deputy for 38 years with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. The first 20 years was as a very active deputy with the department,” he said. “I understand what law enforcement is up against today.”

In recent years, Hark has served Marion County and the city of Hannibal in the role of emergency management director. He believes being on call 24/7 in that capacity should answer the question for residents “whether I’m going to be available or not.”

Hark describes himself as being a “very pro-business, pro-industry person.”

“I just want to be a part of seeing Marion County continue to grow and prosper,” he said. “If we can help bring any kind of industry or business in anywhere in this county, it’s a plus for us … a plus for the people.”

Hark stresses he is not running because he has an ax to grind.

“I’m not unhappy with the county. That’s not the reason I’m running for office, because I’m an unhappy person. I hope that I can add something to it,” he said.

Having a solid relationship with Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner, and Larry Welch, Eastern District commissioner, is a plus, according to Hark.

“I know the other two commissioners and worked for them for a number of years. Both of them are personal friends, but I’m my own person. Would we have to debate something? I hope not. I hope we could work on everything together and I feel very comfortable with that,” he said.

Asked to describe himself, Hark says he is a straight shooting problem solver.

“What people really need to know and understand is that I may not be able to solve all problems; I’ve run into that in emergency management. There’s always give and take,” he said. “I’ve never been one to accept that there’s no answer to a problem. There’s an answer. It may not be the answer everyone would like, but there’s always an answer. I’m going to seek the answer and will give you a straight answer. It may not be what you want to hear, but I will give it to you.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com .