Incumbents Win 6 of 8 City Council Races

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 04/08 2014 08:26PM

Updated 04/08 2014 11:02PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Four contested, incumbent St. Joseph City Council members retained their seats and two newcomers won at-large positions in Tuesday's election. 

District I:

Incumbent Pat Jones easily won a second term on the city council after beating her challenger Dennis Adams 1,854 votes  to 1,225 votes in the District I race. Jones had been outspoken in her opposition to the smoking ban and had been vocal in her displeasure on the redesign of St. Joseph Ave. in her district.

Adams is the owner of Adams Fine Jewelry and was making his first try at public office. He said he was running because he was frustrated with customer service he'd received at City Hall and wanted to see some changes made.

As Jones looks ahead to a second term she's going to focus on what she heard from voters.

"My focus is really the streets," she said. "We've heard this. We're going to have to get something up in a hurry. It's time to stop talking and do some action."

District II:

In District II, it was an often heated and contentious campaign between incumbent Joyce Starr and challenger Ellis Cross, with Starr ultimately holding her seat 1,015 votes to 749 votes.

During the campaign, the two exchanged accusations at each other during public events and showed a general dislike for each other.

Cross had accused Starr's camp of stealing his yard signs. Cross also had to answer to a comment he made referring to his district as the, "armpit of the city."

"I'm really glad we're done with it (the campaign), because I'm not a negative person," Starr said. "I had many negative things thrown out there against me and my family. Friends came to my rescue. I'm not a real negative person. It's hard for me to throw mud at other people."

Both had said cleaning up the district was important. Starr said the best way to achieve that was through working with various neighborhood and community groups. Cross said public clean-ups hadn't worked in the past and were basically just "photo ops."

District V:

It was a tight race in District 5 between incumbent Barbara LaBass and her challenger Mary Attebury. LaBass retained her seat, defeating Attebury 1,419 votes to 1,330 votes.

LaBass was seeking her third term on the council, while Attebury, the former Health Director for the City of St. Joseph, was a candidate for public office for the first time.

During her campaign, LaBass touted her support of the Air Guard's 139th Air Wing at Rosecrans and growth of the city's business park and retail development in the southeast part of her district.

Attebury was a strong supporter of the city's smoking ban proposal but said she was more than just a one-issue candidate. She said the city was "behind the times" and needed to be more aggressive. She also said she was concerned that LaBass didn't care about the impoverished.

At-Large Candidates:

Donna Jean Boyer won her fifth term on the council, with Kent (Spanky) O'Dell and Ken Beck also elected to the council. O'Dell and Beck unseated incumbents Byron Myers and Jeff Penland.

Donna Jean Boyer is the most senior member of the city council and was successful in being elected to a fifth term in office, receiving the most votes (6,954).

"I feel honored and humbled that voters in the city have elected me for my fifth term," Boyer said. "As the council will add some new members, we will have to find a way to work together for the best of the city."

Boyer supports the idea of a downtown casino and believes that the public will have to decide whether they want higher taxes to pay for the city's streets.

Kent "Spanky" O'Dell won his first term on the council with 6,548 votes. He said he entered the race because he was frustrated with how things were going at City Hall and wanted to make a difference. One of O'Dell's major focuses was community appearance and wanting to clean up downtown to make it more presentable to business and visitors.

Ken Beck has been in politics for a number of years, but usually behind the scenes. Beck received 6,409 votes. The local Republican Party organizer stepped forward to run for city council, saying he'd like to see more public input into the process. He raised concerns over possible public dollars being needed for infrastructure improvements should the St. Joseph Frontier Casino choose to move downtown.

"I've always been above board," Beck said, explaining why he thinks voters chose him. "I've always been honest and been very fair with people. I think leadership will be important was we look ahead."

Penland (6,115 votes) and Myers (5,968 votes) came in fourth and fifth respectively. Kenneth Reeder received the least amount of votes of any at-large candidate.

PJ Kovac (District 3) and Gary Roach (District 4) both ran unopposed. The mayoral race was also uncontested with Bill Falkner securing a second term.

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