Tuesday marked the first day for filing in the April 2 municipal elections with candidates vying for positions for Sedalia Mayor and on the Sedalia City Council, Sedalia School District 200 and Pettis County Ambulance District boards.
In the city, current incumbents Mayor Elaine Horn and Ward 3 Councilman Wiley Walter announced they would not be seeking reelection, and Ward 1 incumbent Steven Galliher filed for the open mayoral position, leaving several seats open.
Sedalia City Council
Galliher previously announced his candidacy for mayor earlier this month but on Tuesday made it official, arriving at the Municipal Building at 8 a.m to ensure his name was first on the ballot.
“I like being a public servant,” he said. “The city is steadily moving ahead and I want to see that continue while keeping a critical eye on the finances.”
Galliher has been a Ward 1 councilman for four years, and said while he knows his own constituents well, he would be making a special effort the next few months to meet people from all over the city.
“I’m going to wear out a few pairs of shoes meeting people,” he joked. “I plan to visit with as many as I possibly can so they can get to know me. In my time serving Ward 1, I would sometimes get calls from people in other wards. It never mattered to me if I was their councilman or not, I just try to help as much as I can.”
Galliher said he’d like to see the city continue to work closely with Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County to continue to bring jobs to the area and keep an open line of communication between the mayor and the council.
“We have a pretty good open door policy with the mayor now, but I’d like to see that increased,” he said. “A mayor needs to be as available as possible to (city) staff and the public. You can’t serve the people if you don’t know what they’re thinking.”
Sedalia resident John Fritz also announced his candidacy for mayor earlier this month, but had not filed by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Running for her third term on the council is Ward 2 incumbent Wanda Monsees, who also filed Tuesday.
“I’ve enjoyed serving on the council, we’ve got several projects we’re working on and I’d like to continue to see them through,” she said. “The downtown inspection ordinance especially; it was tough to find the right balance but ultimately I think it was the right thing to do, I’m glad we’re taking steps to preserve downtown Sedalia.”
Monsees also noted “all the boring things” that are priorities for her as well, including infrastructure and road improvements.
“It’s not all exciting, but those are important too,” she said.
Highlights from the past year are the continued building of Fire Station No. 2 and the reopening of the Washington Avenue bridge, which is located in her ward, she noted.
In Ward 3, three-term councilman Walter said he had been thinking about whether to continue on council and even said some had been pressuring him to run for the mayoral seat, but “I’m too old.”
“My mind is still good but I don’t think I need to run again,” Walter told the Democrat.
Highlights from his past six years as a councilman include approving the expenditures for a new fire station and fire truck, upgrades to the Sedalia Regional Airport and the city sewer system, Walter said.
“I think we still need better streets and to really work on cleaning up downtown,” he added. “We just passed this (downtown) inspection ordinance so now it’s time to enforce the laws we have.”
Walter had some advice for his future replacement: always remember the constituents.
“My first sergeant told me to ‘remember what little dogs do to big wheels,’ I’ll never forget that,” he said. “Don’t forget the people you’re serving and just do the best job you can.”
Hoping to take over Walter’s seat is former Sedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Don Meier.
“Working at the fire department for a number of years, and now serving on the Board of Public Works, I have a working knowledge of how the city works,” Meier said. “(While at the fire department) I worked on budgets and know most of the department heads. I enjoy being at the city and working with the staff there.”
Meier said he had been keeping up with local council decisions and agreed with council’s approval of both the smoking ban and the downtown inspection ordinance.
“I think the city was almost forced to do something, to enact that ordinance,” he said. “But I think it was needed. As for the smoking ban, I don’t think that needs to be changed. It’s very beneficial to the patrons of Sedalia’s restaurants and bars.”
Meier said he would like to see more money in the budget allocated to repairing city streets.
Joining Galliher and Meier to sign up for the ballot at 8 a.m. was Ward 4 incumbent Tollie Rowe. Running for his second term, Rowe said he enjoyed the first two years on council and was hoping to have the opportunity to serve two more.
“It’s been an unique two years, that’s for sure,” he said. “We had a lot of tough decisions to make including the smoking ban and the downtown inspection ordinance. (Funding was also approved) for the Washington Avenue bridge, the fire station and the library.”
A vocal supporter of both the smoking ban and the inspection ordinance, Rowe said he enjoyed the “process behind making those decisions” most.
“There were a lot of difficult decisions made and we discussed the impact of both of the ordinances for a long time,” he said. “Seeing what city staff did to get us the information we needed and talking to people in Ward 4 about how they felt, they weren’t easy decisions but they were important for Sedalia.”
Those interested in filing for mayor must be at least 30-years-old, a citizen of the U.S. and a resident of the city for at least two years. Mayoral candidates must collect 100 signatures and pay a $100 fee to file. City council candidates must be at least 21-years-old, a citizen of the U.S., resident of the city for one year and resident of their ward for six months. Candidates must collect 25 signatures and pay a $50 fee. Municipal judge candidates must be licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri, be a resident of Pettis County and be between 21- and 75-years-old. Candidates must collect 50 signatures and pay a $50 fee.
Filing is open, 8:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Municipal Building. For more information call 827-3000.
Pettis County Ambulance District
Pettis County Ambulance District 2 Director Mike Layton said the board has accomplished a lot since it was approved by voters in April 2012. Layton said initial estimates projected it could take as long as two years to stand up PCAD, but the directors saw the tax-based district take over from private provider APSi in October.
“We are in good shape money wise and now we are just looking forward to purchasing land somewhere for a permanent facility,” Layton said. “Once we get into the (temporary) Fourth Street facility we will be there for several years until we have time to look for a place and build.”
In addition to settling on a permanent facility during a second term, Layton said he would also like to see PCAD establish satellite operations in the county and begin offering training to first responders.
PCAD District 5 Director Greg Nehring also filed Tuesday, saying he has enjoyed his two-year term on the board, especially working to get the district up and running.
“I’m looking forward to being able to ensure we have a highly efficient ambulance district and provide a high level of care to our residents,” he said.
As chair of the board, Nehring has worked with his fellow board members since first being elected in June 2012 to start the district from scratch. Now that PCAD Administrator Mike Gardner is coming up on a full year of employment for the district and it’s officially taken over ambulance services, Nehring said he was looking forward to being able to step back a little from the day-to-day decisions.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Mike and I’m happy he’s starting to take over a lot of the more detailed management,” he said. “It’s going to allow the board to step back and be more of an oversight committee, which is how it should be.
“I think so far the district is doing a great job, we’ve got high-quality employees and I’m looking forward to hopefully staying another three years ensuring it continues to be successful.”
To file as a PCAD director, candidates must be over the age of 24, have resided in district for one year, and be a U.S. citizen and a registered voter. For more information call 826-5000.
Sedalia 200 School District Board of Education
So far three candidates have filed for the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education, and all three are current members of the board. Vice President Michael Stees, Treasurer Ken Coffelt and member Scott Gardner have filed to remain on the board for another three-year term. So far the race is uncontested, meaning an election may not need to be held, and it has been a few years since an election was needed for the Board of Education.
Stees is finishing his second term on the board, and said he wants to continue because “there are several projects underway I’d like to be there for.” As for future projects, Stees is focused on the classroom.
“We’re always looking at how the district is growing, and those class sizes are growing again. I want to maintain manageable class sizes in elementary through high school,” he said. “I want to work on maintaining those class sizes so they get more one-on-one instruction from teachers.
“Professional development has also been improved and we added more opportunities for our teachers. It gives them more training so they’re able to work with students as changes occur. We’ve had a lot of promotion within the school district, and if you give them good professional development you’ll maintain good teachers who want to work with the district.”
Stees said he has invested a lot of time and training during his almost six years, and he wants to stay on the board to pick up more training and to keep the board consistent.
Coffelt has been a board member for 15 years, serving five terms. He said he’s seen a lot of changes during his time as a board member, including finding solutions with former Superintendent Dr. Harriet Wolfe for financial problems. In his most recent term, changes have included building a new high school, renovating the junior high school, two years of being Accredited with Distinction, a national award-winning JROTC team, and the current work on the future Smith-Cotton athletic complex.
“It’s an exciting time to be in Sedalia and Sedalia 200,” Coffelt said. “We have a new high school, we’re getting ready to do the new sports facility. We have excellent teachers and administrators, and I just want to continue to be a part of it. I want to keep the ball rolling.”
As for Gardner, who is finishing his third term, he said he wants to continue his work on the board because they have “unfinished business.”
“We made some promises back in 2007. That promise is very simple – give us the ability to have smaller classrooms and newer facilities and we will do good things with your kids, we will help them to achieve,” he said. “We’ve been Accredited with Distinction the last two years, and I think it’s a result of that promise. Our classrooms are starting to get a little crowded again. We need to be doing some new things. That’s part of what I want to work on the next three years.
“Also we have the ability to put some amazing technology in the hands of those kids and we need to make sure it’s not just another pretty tablet, that it’s something that will help them learn and be learners the rest of their lives.”
Candidates must be citizens of the United States and resident taxpayers of the district, who have resided in Missouri for one year preceding their election or appointment, and who are at least 24 years old. Three members will be elected to serve a three-year term April 2. Those interested in filing should stop by the Board of Education Office, 2806 Matthew Dr., by Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. The office is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but will be closed Dec. 20 to 31 and Jan. 20. For more information call 829-6450.
The last day to file for the April 2 municipal elections is 5 p.m., Jan. 21. Ballots will be certified Jan. 28.