Three At-Large City Council Incumbents Seeing Four More Years

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 04/04 2014 09:29PM

Updated 04/04 2014 11:11PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The shape of St. Joseph's roads have been a big focus for this city council election.

Three at-large incumbents wanting to return for another term say the money is not in the budget without coming up with additional revenues.

"Seven plus years and five years of involvement in looking at budgets every year, the money is not there in the budget," said Jeff Penland, looking for his second full term. Penland joined the city council in 2009 after the death of Mike Hirter.

"It's easy to sit on a platform and say it has to be there in a $200 million budget, but it's not." Penland said.

"Ultimately, it will be up to the public to decide what kind of plan they want, how they are going to pay for it or whether or not they even want to pay for it," said Donna Jean Boyer, the senior member of the council, seeing her fifth term.

Incumbent Byron Myers agrees additional revenues need to be developed. He'd like to see the tax base expanded.

"It's easy not to tax people if you increase the tax base," Myers said. "The more people you can keep here and having jobs and the more economic development you can have here, that tax base broadens out and you can get things done."

Other than roads, downtown redevelopment has been a big talking point during the campaign.

"If the casino decides on their own to come downtown, they'll do that and I'll assume we'd accept that because it's a way to draw people," Myers said. "I'd also like to see an entertainment center."

"Regardless of whether they're going to be gambling or not, they will be downtown," Boyer said. "That will give them an opportunty to walk around downtown. I think the small businesses, the little boutique shops will benefit from having a casino downtown."

"That is an area where we can increase the revenues that are coming to our community because of our historic value we don't take advantage of in our community," said Penland.

All three incumbents agree that job creation, development and retainment are important to keeping and expanding the tax base.

"A lot of people lost their jobs during 09-10 and those jobs are never coming back," Myers said. "Yet, there are new jobs with new skills required. If we can teach our local people, they can work here."

"I know that the struggles and the pitfalls that small business owners run," said Penland. "I'm hanging my hat on being a small business owner and a business advocate."

"Council can not create jobs," said Boyer. "The private sector will have to create the jobs. The council can provide support and services to allow businesses to expand and come here."

The three incumbents along with challengers Ken Beck, Kenneth Reeder and Kent "Spanky" O'Dell (profiled here) survived the February primaries.

When voters go to the polls April 8, the top three vote-getters will be elected to the council.

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