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Who won races for Springfield Mayor and City Council? Ozarks Public Radio has the recap

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure appeared at KSMU Studios for a Nonpartisan Informed Voter Coalition interview prior to the April 4, 2023 municipal election in which he was re-elected for a fourth and final two-year term.
Screenshot courtesy Nonpartisan Informed Voter Coalition / Springfield News-Leader
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure appeared at KSMU Studios for a Nonpartisan Informed Voter Coalition interview prior to the April 4, 2023 municipal election in which he was re-elected for a fourth and final two-year term.

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure was re-elected for a final two-year term, after a heavily contested campaign. McClure was seen as pro-development, while challenger Melanie Bach took a pro-neighborhood stance.

Springfield's April 4 general municipal election has concluded, and Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller has released informal vote tallies.

In a city of some 170,000 residents, incumbent Springfield Mayor Ken McClure was re-elected with 10,484 ballots, defeating challenger Melanie Bach with 53.18 percent of votes.

Bach was a leader in last year's successful campaign to stop a controversial apartment building development in southeast Springfield's Galloway neighborhood. Bach received 9,232 votes in Tuesday's election, 46.82 percent.

McClure: 'I expected a close election'

“I expected a close election, and that was why I focused my campaign as I did,” McClure told the Springfield Daily Citizen Tuesday night. “It was a positive campaign. I’m proud that we were able to keep a positive message and focus on what was so important to us."

In the 2000s, McClure was chief of staff for former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, a one-term Republican. McClure was elected to Springfield City Council in 2015, then elected mayor two years later in a hard-fought, expensive race against a Trump-era populist conservative candidate, Kristi Fulnecky.

McClure was re-elected to the office of mayor in 2019 and again in 2021, and he may now serve until 2025 before being termed out under the Springfield city charter, which permits mayors to serve four terms of two years.

His campaign took in some $125,000 in funds, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission. Major donors included the Springfield Good Government Committee backed by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield; as well as SWMO Forward PAC, which also funded TV attack ads against successful Springfield school board candidates Judy Brunner and Shurita Thomas-Tate.

Bach: 'I will continue to advocate' for neighborhoods

Mayoral challenger Bach released a statement late Tuesday night saying she isn't bowing out from Springfield's political scene. She'll continue serving as Galloway Village Neighborhood Association president, according to the statement.

Bach added, "The closeness of this race clearly demonstrates that Springfieldians expect better representation from our city leaders. With one tenth of the money, I was nearly able to defeat a three term incumbent. Springfield neighborhoods have spoken today and I will continue to advocate for them to be heard, utilized, and respected by our city. Hopefully city leaders will heed the message from citizens in today's elections and improve relationships with Neighborhoods."

Bach's campaign took in some $19,000, roughly one-seventh the resources of McClure's campaign. Major donors included political action committees for labor unions like Springfield Building and Construction Trades and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 178.

Bach also received small donations from several private individuals, including longtime Greene County Republican Party leader Danette Proctor.

Who's on the new City Council?

City Council will have three new faces: Callie Carroll, Brandon Jenson and Derek Lee.

In Springfield's northern half, Zone 1 Councilwoman Monica Horton and Zone 2 Councilman Abe McGull ran unopposed. They'll serve four-year terms. In northwest Springfield, Horton received 2,119 votes; in northeast Springfield, McGull got 3,741.

Springfield's southwest quadrant, Zone 3, will soon be represented by newcomer Brandon Jenson, replacing exiting Councilman Mike Schilling.

Jenson got 1,900 votes, or 53.84 percent; his opponent, David Nokes, got 1,629 ballots, or 46.16 percent.

"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity, as well as the hope that you all have demonstrated for the future of our great city," Jenson said in a Tuesday-night statement.

In Zone 4, Councilman Matt Simpson was not up for re-election and continues with his term until 2025.

General Seat A Councilwoman Heather Hardinger was not up for re-election and continues with her term until 2025.

General Seat B Councilman Craig Hosmer was not up for re-election and continues with his term until 2025.

General Seat C will be held by newcomer Callie Carroll, a former commercial TV anchor and Missouri State University sports fundraiser who currently works in banking. Carroll won 9,851 votes, or 55.27 percent, against candidate Jeremy Dean. Dean got 44.73 percent, or 7,974 ballots. Carroll replaces exiting Councilman Andrew Lear.

Carroll told the Springfield News-Leader she was "excited" to serve on council and added, "That's why I did this. I love Springfield. It was important to me to run, you know, a clean campaign and just be authentically myself. And that's what we did. And I'm just really really, really proud to get to serve the city I love," she said.

General Seat D will be held by newcomer Derek Lee, who received 9,600 ballots, or 52.08 percent. His opponent was Bruce Adib-Yazdi with 8,832 votes, 47.92 percent.

Lee is a civil engineer who has owned Lee Engineering and Associates in Springfield for more than two decades and often works on development projects in the Queen City.

Lee told the News-Leader, "I want to work on public safety, and I want to work towards getting the police department fully staffed. And then I want to work on the codes, just the things that I talked about in my campaign. I want to actually do that."

City Council is expected to begin transition planning soon, and new members are to be sworn in at a 6:30 p.m. meeting April 17.

Under the Springfield city charter, City Council members are unpaid volunteers.

In a charter provision approved by city voters in 1986, the mayor receives a salary of $200 per month, with $100 more for incidental expenses that come up in the line of duty.

KSMU Ozarks Public Radio collaborators the Springfield Daily Citizen and the Springfield News-Leader contributed to this report. Help build more news coverage at Ozarks Public Radio by visiting donate.ksmu.org.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.