Incumbent Don Meier has been challenged for his Sedalia City Council Ward 3 seat by Tom Cunningham in the April 5 municipal election.
Don Meier is seeking re-election after his first term in office, but it’s not his first time serving the city. The lifelong Sedalia resident has previously served on the Public Works Board, Traffic Advisory Committee and retired as a deputy fire chief from the Sedalia Fire Department.
“I love to do it,” Meier said of his decision to run again. “I retired from the city and I still missed having an active part so two years ago I came back and ran for Third Ward councilman.”
Meier noted a few of the top issues in Sedalia he thinks need to be addressed in the near future.
“I think right now we need to spend more money on our streets. After the $30 million we’re spending on the sewer systems, our streets have a lot to be desired,” he said. “… I think the thing that always comes up is a new police station, which I think will happen, it’s just one of those things, how do we pay for it?
“And the community center. I think some day it will happen. Again, they’re working on, how do we pay for it?”
Council is two weeks from giving final consideration to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget and Meier said he thought an important aspect was the new public safety wage plan.
“I think reevaluating the pay plan for emergency services was certainly a necessity,” he said. “We have to generate some sort of plan to retain our emergency services personnel. “
At this time, Meier doesn’t have a specific stance on the proposed rental inspection ordinance, which will be presented to council this spring.
“I do think we should spend a good deal of time with the real estate people in Sedalia and the landlords,” he said. “Hopefully we can come up with some sort of agreement.”
Meier said his goals for office include seeing the growth of Sedalia continue, including seeing more industry or retail on the east side of town.
“I’m the most qualified. I have the interest, the desire and I have the time to do it,” Meier said of why people should vote for him. “When I got involved in this, I thought two Mondays a month would take care of it, but that’s not so. You have concerned citizens that call you quite often, and when you deal with those problems, most people just want to be listened to.”
Cunningham spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force as security police for the first 12 years, then cross-trained into civil engineering, working on heating and air conditioning. He then moved to Sedalia with his wife, who is from Sedalia.
“So the people have a voice,” he said of his decision to run. “We had a situation on our property and I called a councilman and it was several weeks before they showed up. It pays more for us to show up to city council meetings every week.”
When it comes to top issues, Cunningham and Meier have roughly the same ideas.
“They need to fix the roads, they’re pretty bad. They’re addressing it, it’s just slow going,” he said. “I don’t think they tell people what they’re doing as much as they should. I think there should be more contact with the people, letting them know what’s going on so people doing think they’re doing nothing.
“Expansion of course, always. Not just to the west, there’s east, there’s north, there’s south. There’s lots of Sedalia to go around. We could annex in property and expand Sedalia, make it the city it was supposed to have been.”
When it comes to the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, Cunningham said he would like to know more about how decisions are made, as he said he was surprised about a few budget items, such as the community center.
“I think the people need to be more aware of what’s going on,” he said. “Sure, there’s people that don’t care, but there’s people out there complaining because they don’t know what’s going on, and if they knew maybe they wouldn’t complain so much and we wouldn’t have so much animosity and more producting.”
A member of the Sedalia Landlord Association, Cunningham is against the proposed rental inspections.
“I think it’s a way for the city to make money as opposed to the true reason behind it, which would be to make things safer and better,” he said. “I agree with the safer and better, and I really think everyone should be more in that direction, but to punish a group of people for that purpose is not the way to do it. If they do it, I think the first one should be free and only require another inspection if people transfer the property.”
His goals for office include learning more about Sedalia city government and helping the city improve and grow.
“If they don’t like what they got, get someone in there that’s new and see if that can make a change,” he said of why citizens should vote for him. “If it doesn’t make a change, they can always get rid of it later, but they have to keep turning it over until they get it the way they want it to be.
“… If I get in position, I would like to have a monthly, or depending on how interested people are, a get-together at a park to keep abreast of what’s going on and keep that open communication on a regular basis.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.