Filing for the April municipal election closes Tuesday, and then the fun begins.
I’m looking forward to it.
I’ve been a small-town journalist for a long, long time, and I’ve always thought local elections were way more important than most of my neighbors, associates and everyone else seemed to think; they were always interested in presidential elections, but little else. You can see that from election turnout figures.
The April elections are greeted by a gigantic yawn in almost every Missouri county; certainly that is the case here. The November elections every four years generate fairly good turnout.
I look forward to the April elections because I have always believed that local governments are important because they’re the ones that provide the services we use the most each day.
City government provides you with the police, fire protection, streets, parks and sewers. School government provides your community’s children with the opportunity to learn something they can take to the marketplace, to college or to the military.
The hospital board, which is part of the April election, makes an impact on medical services. The ambulance and fire districts in the county affect your lives directly.
Moreover, all of these local governments of various political subdivisions are the ones that get into your pocket the most, so who you elect to those boards affects your local taxes.
I always have looked forward to trying to provide voters with information about those candidates. Trying to get you engaged in local government is one of the reasons I look forward to the election.
I also like the April elections because they have the potential to generate strong feelings. Someone always gets his or her nose out of joint because of something they perceive that I or another reporter did or didn’t do.
I’m absolutely certain that will happen again this year. I really look forward to more shouting matches with candidates and their supporters.
Councilman Tony Bahr surprised me Thursday with his announcement that he was withdrawing his candidacy because Lou Magdits, a long-time councilman had filed.
Bahr said he believes Magdits is far better qualified. Then he filed for re-election, but he didn’t file for the seat he will be vacating. Appointed Councilman Walt Bowe had already filed for that term because Bahr had not.
Out of respect for Bowe, Bahr filed for the council seat Bowe was appointed to, the seat to which Fran Mazanec was elected last year. Mazanec resigned when she moved from the ward; Bowe was appointed to serve in her place until the next election.
So Bahr, if he’s re-elected to the council, will have to run again next year.
Page 2 of 3 - Confused? In summary, Bahr filed for a position that he figured he was most qualified for at the time of filing, then backed out when someone he respects decided to file. And out of respect for the candidate who filed for the full council term, Bahr filed for the short term.
Councilman Bahr should be commended for these decisions.
There’s still time for more candidates to file to all the offices, and I wish more would, so voters could have some choices. We still have a choice for the successor to Mayor Bill Jenks III, who is ending his second four-year term and doesn’t want to re-enlist.
In addition to Magdits, who currently is a Fourth Ward councilman and works for the Doe Run Company as director of raw materials we have Sue Eudaly, retired Rolla school teacher who is a Third Ward councilman, and Steven Leonard, a Second Ward councilman who told me he is the chief of staff for the owner of the company that operates Big Louie’s, a gentleman’s club in St. Robert.
Magdits and Leonard are both employed in the private sector, and for me that business experience is a huge credential. Eudaly, though, has worked with children and their parents for decades, so she understands the importance of providing services to the public, which is the purpose of city government.
There’s a lot there for voters to consider when deciding their selection.
We’ll be asking questions of the candidates and sharing information between now and the April election to help voters in that decision-making process, too.
The council terms of Magdits and Eudaly both expire in 2015, so if they aren’t elected, they’ll still continue to serve on the council.
Leonard’s term on the council ends in April, so if he isn’t elected mayor, he won’t be part of city government any longer.
So I guess you could say that Leonard is the only one of the three actually taking a risk.
There are two races in Ward One. For the year left on the unexpired term of Rhonda Sue Myers, appointed Councilman Jonathan C. Hines has filed. He is being challenged by Stephen Peterson. For the full two-year term, incumbent Monty Jordan is being challenged by Michael Doan, who has run before and lost.
Voters in the other five wards are apparently happy, for they have not put up any challengers.
In Ward 2, for the seat currently held by Leonard, Matthew R. Miller faces no opposition.
Incumbent Ward 3 Councilman Kelly Long, Ward 4 Councilman Don Morris and and Ward 5 Councilman Jimmy Dale Williams face no challenges. I like these incumbents because I’ve gotten good quotes out of all of them.
Page 3 of 3 - Long recently said he would favor a city law banning people from coming to his door, even Girl Scouts selling cookies, because he’s tired when he gets home and wants to be left alone.
Morris once voted against awarding a contract to the low-bidding firm because it wasn’t local; it was from far-off Newburg.
Williams is a treasure of good quotes; I’m particularly fond of his approach to feral cats.
These were golden quotes and golden moments, thanks to these three men.
And in Ward 6, as I already pointed out, the two incumbents are running for the seats now held by the other one.
BULLETIN: Former Councilman Mark Walburg has filed, challenging Bahr. The fun never ceases
It’s going to be great between now and April 8. I hope you’ll read the paper every day to stay up to date.