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Springfield mayor delivers final state of the city address

Flanked by past and present members of Springfield City Council, Mayor Ken McClure waved to the crowd following his final State of the City address on June 6, 2024.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
Flanked by past and present members of Springfield City Council, Mayor Ken McClure waved to the crowd following his final State of the City address on June 6, 2024.

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure was elected to the office back in 2017 following a stint as a council member. On Thursday morning, he delivered an emotional speech for his final State of the City address.

Several hundred Springfield business leaders gathered for Mayor Ken McClure’s state of the city address on Thursday morning. By tradition, they met at an Evangel University chapel for a Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce event. It was also streamed live online.

McClure said, “The honor of my lifetime, though, has been the trust and confidence placed in me by the voters of Springfield — and I thank them for that. I have been on the ballot five times — once for council and four times as mayor, since 2015. I would not trade the experiences, both good and bad, for anything. I have done my best and am so grateful for the opportunity. So, in April 2025, I will close a career of over 50 years.”

The mayor began his speech saluting American military veterans on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. That’s a decisive battle in France that marked a turning point in World War II’s defeat of Nazi Germany. McClure honored a local man, Jack Hamlin, who crossed the English Channel to fight that day. Following the speech, McClure was set to recognize Hamlin — who lives at a local care center — with the Key to the City and a special proclamation.

"Those of you who know [Hamlin] know about his indeterminable spirit, his 100-watt smile and his enthusiasm for life," McClure said. "Thank you, Jack. We salute you.”

McClure touched on his own legacy as mayor since 2017. Going forward, he proposed two changes to the city charter that could be sent to voters next year. Those include paying the mayor and council between $7,500 and $10,000 per year, instead of serving as unpaid volunteers. McClure also wants to alter the voting relationship between future mayors and other council members. (Voters approved two separate charter changes at the most recent April municipal election: Extending future Springfield mayoral terms from two years to four years, and changing ethics requirements for city employees.)

He suggested city voters agree to "remove the mayor as a voting member of City Council and give the mayor veto authority over council actions. Under this proposal, the mayor would preside over council meetings, vote only in the case of a tie, and then be tasked with signing or vetoing actions of council. A veto could be overridden by a supermajority. Many cities in Missouri have such a provision and I believe it would prove to be beneficial.”

McClure encouraged people to work on their mental health and be social. He said we’re living in a “pandemic hangover” era, quoting a phrase by Clay Goddard, local health department director during COVID.

“Our relationships in general — with family, with friends, coworkers and community members can have a major impact on our health and well-being," McClure told the gathering.

The mayor also touched on crime and gun violence, noting that crime is trending down by 9.5% over last year. But even so, Springfield police continue to handle hundreds of shots fired calls, many linked to youthful suspects. The mayor concluded by asking the community to create an environment of safety and care for children.

“I would like for you to think about ways you can show children that their lives are important by providing them with love, support and positive reinforcement," McClure said. "By actively listening to them, valuing their opinions, and encouraging their dreams and aspirations, we can all help them develop a strong sense of self-worth.”

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