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Politics
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Reed Takes on Incumbent Stephens for Springfield Mayor

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Scott Harvey
/
KSMU

Tuesday’s deadline to submit application materials for the Springfield City Council has come and gone, setting the stage for four separate challenges on the April ballot.

Bob Stephens says he’ll be focusing on the economy, public safety and infrastructure over the next two plus months in his quest for reelection as the city’s mayor.

Stephens outlined his priorities during a press conference Wednesday, in front of supporters from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the International Association of Firefighters Local 152, among others. Stephens says throughout his time on council, the city has helped bring in more and better jobs. But he notes that economic development is not possible without combining those efforts with public safety.

“You cannot have jobs coming into our community without people feeling like it is a safe environment, and that’s what we are working on as our number one, at least my number one and number two priority,” Stephens said.

Stephens, who has been on council since 2009 and mayor since 2012, is opposed by Steven Reed.

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Credit Submitted photo

Reed is an active petitioner, both of the referendum and initiative variety. He most recently supported efforts by the newly formed People’s Visioning group to delay action on several bills regarding the city’s referendum petition process, which allows citizens to try to overturn a council-approved ordinance. Among the changes sought is an increase to the number of signatures needed for a petition.  

“The city’s just hostile toward petitioning and citizen involvement. I’ve helped register over 14,000 voters, and I believe the answer is getting more involvement in the community – people involved in what’s going on,” Reed said.

Reed is one of more than 400 people who recently lost their job following the closing of Dillons Stores in December. He proposes a database to track these individuals to better assist them get back on their feet.

Despite recent and pending closings of area businesses, Stephens says Springfield’s economy is on the right track.

“It’s not a good thing that people from Dillons got laid off, but the new owners are saying ‘We want those folks to come and apply at Price Cutter.’ So there’s always a little bit of displacement going on, but Springfield is in great shape,” Stephens says.

He points to recent development downtown as an example, which has helped earn him support from the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. President Matt Morrow told the crowd Wednesday that those kinds of projects are a testament to Stephens’ leadership and that of council’s.

For his part, Reed said his council application included petition signatures from the likes of Springfield Democratic State Representative Charlie Norr, and former State Rep. Mike Schilling, who is currently seeking the Zone 3 seat.  

Reed, if elected, said he would not support additional City Utilities rate increases “for some time” and backs the purchase of police body cameras using city surplus funds.

He’s also a staunch opponent of a new Walmart Neighborhood Market at the corner of Grand and Campbell, and supported the effort to stop its construction.

“I believe in free enterprise as long as it’s fair. But I oppose situations where a monopoly occurs which limits the competition.”

Both mayoral candidates appear to agree on their support of local food production and distribution.

Voters will choose between Stephens and Reed, as well as other council positions, on April 7. But a large focus this campaign cycle is likely to be on the measure to repeal city council’s recent expansion of its non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT persons in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

Both candidates declined to offer their view on the subject when asked Wednesday. Reed said he’s “still taking comment from the public” on the issue, while Stephens hopes to see the debate “play out on a civil platform.”

A potential third candidate for the mayor’s seat, Danny Lee Henderson, failed to submit the 200 valid signatures required to appear on the ballot, according to the city clerk’s office.

Ken McClure is the only unopposed candidate for a Springfield City Council seat. The General Seat C race will feature Kristi S. Fulnecky and Len Eagleburger. For Zone 2, three people have filed; Buckley "Buck" Van Hooser, Justin Burnett and Josh Mareschal. And Councilman Jerry Compton is seeking reelection for Zone 3. He’ll be opposed by Mike Schilling.

Council members Cindy Rushefsky, Doug Carroll and Doug Burleson decided not to run again. The other four seats, occupied by Craig Fishel, Craig Hosmer, Jeff Seifried and Jan Fisk, are not up for election this year.

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