At-Large City Council Challengers Want Change

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 04/04 2014 09:49PM

Updated 04/04 2014 11:13PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Three challengers to at-large seats to St. Joseph's City Council all have the same opinion of current leadership.

"The council needs to take some leadership," said Ken Beck, who has had leadership in the local Republican party and has served on numerous city committees.

"We need to take the city back and start getting things done and stop talking about it," said Kent "Spanky" O'Dell, who was frustrated with how government was operating and decided to make his first attempt for public office.

"(They are) too tired to stay and too weak to leave," said Ken Beck, a self-described watchdog who says he's attended more city council meetings over the last several years than council members themselves.

The three men have all been firm in their belief that something needs to be done about St. Joseph's streets and roads. Where they differ is how to pay for it.

"There's going to have to be a debate about what the citizens will want to have their taxes increased specifically for the purposes of the streets," said Beck.

"It only becomes an election time if you've noticed about the streets. People have had a lot of time to do something about this and have chosen not to do anything," said Reeder.

"I believe in our budget we have money, we have different areas where we can squeeze money out and put it toward the streets," said O'Dell.

While there is some momentum toward supporting the St. Joseph Frontier Casino to relocate and be an anchor to downtown redevelopment, not everybody is sold.

"You take any casino anywhere else and there is cornfields, levys and rivers," O'Dell said. "You put the casino in our downtown and you have shops and restaurants and festivals and gazebos and live music."

"If you move the casino to downtown St. Joseph, what does that mean, in essance to our infrastructure and how much the city will have to spend on infrastructure around the casino?" Beck said.

Reeder was more pointed in his belief that city funds should not be used.

"When you have to invest in yourselves, you have to go deeper in debt. It's a lame, lame, tired and old argument."

The three challengers say they bring something new and different to the table.

"Things I'd like to see is a huge town hall meeting," Beck said. "Not a small meeting, but a nice town hall meeitng. We can bring people in and address issues and see what would happen. After all, it is their city."

"Fiscal responsibility and it starts with openness, transparency, accountability where we're spending this money," Reeder said.

"I push for everything I can for as far as getting our apprearance picked up and looking good," said O'Dell. "I try to get a new budget rearranged so we can get our streets repaired and want to get people involved."

The three challengers face incumbents Donna Jean Boyer, Jeff Penland and Byron Myers
. When voters go to the polls April 8, the top three vote-getters will be elected.

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