Springfield Zone 2 Candidates Share What They Hope to Bring to the Table
Three candidates are vying for the Zone 2 seat on the Springfield City Council this April. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with each to learn about their vision for Springfield.
While each candidate indicates a passion or strength that sets them apart from the rest, a common theme for all three men is their concern for safety in the city. Josh Mareschal says being PTA president opened his eyes to a number of issues surrounding the community, including an increase in crimes reported in the Roundtree and Zone 2 neighborhoods.
“One thing I want to do is make sure that we are retaining our police and fire personnel. It’s my understanding that people can go down to Ozark and Nixa and get paid more money. I certainly don’t think the job is as dangerous there. So definitely retaining our police and fire personnel making sure they have the appropriate training and equipment to do their jobs,” says Mareschal.
Mareschal moved to Springfield from the St. Louis area several years ago and find the city offers a better quality of life. He cites strong medical and university communities as a great strength for Springfield, but he adds he feels people would be less likely to move here if they feel it is unsafe.
Justin Burnett says his deep connection with the community stems from his grandfather’s legacy in the cookware business which began in the 1950s. He says many family members have followed that legacy and have started other small businesses. Burnett feels safety, or the perceived lack thereof, potentially impacts small business owners who live or might want to move here.
Buck Van Hooser, also a Springfield native, notes that even if officials were to fill the academy with trainees “there are no cars to put them in.” He talks about the critical need to support what he calls “life services” for Springfield such as the police and fire departments.
Each of the candidates offered different strengths they feel sets them apart from their opponents. For Van Hooser, he feels it is his extensive life experience.
“I’ve been in leadership roles and had responsibilities since I was a teenager. I actually ran a restaurant when I was 15 years old. I’ve been chairman, founding chair or president of a number of organizations and created a number of different organizations to help people in need,” Van Hooser says.
Justin Burnett says he feels a “deep connection” with the community and says his campaign is a grassroots mission based upon people and values.
“What I have found is that a lot people have been telling me that they feel as if government, nationally and even locally, is out of touch. They want a common sense advocate for the values that are important to them—somebody they can connect with,” Burnett says.
Burnett says he wants to address homelessness, domestic violence and other core issues facing the community. He adds working to provide a “vibrant economy” is central to his mission.
“It’s seeing the small business men and women and the struggles they face on a daily basis that’s encouraged me to run-- to pursue a government that has integrity, efficiency, fiscal responsibility and values public safety,” says Burnett.
Josh Mareschal says his experience as a lawyer makes him a good fit because he can analyze and evaluate both sides of an issue.
“I am not one to jump on the bandwagon; I’m more of one to research an issue. I think that’s good for city council. You’re going to have somebody on there that isn’t just going to rubber stamp things but is actually going to want to see evidence of things—‘proof is in the pudding’ so to speak—and vote based upon that. Mareschal says.
Social media is a central part of all three candidate’s campaigns. Van Hooser adds he is endorsed by many organizations because of his years of involvement in a number of community roles.
“I’m from the school of believing you need to be a part of what you want to see in the future. Being involved with different organizations that do make a difference in our society, and the quality of life we have here, shows this a passion for me. I can’t sit back and says ‘this needs to be done’ and not be willing to be a part of what needs to be done and making it happen,” Van Hooser says.
The Springfield City Council Zone 2 seat is currently occupied by Cindy Rushefsky, who is not seeking re-election.
Aside from Zone 2, the April 7 election features contested races for Springfield mayor, General Seat C, and Zone 3, as well as the controversial measure to repeal the city’s non-discrimination law.
Mareschal, Burnett and Van Hooser agree with having the issue placed on the ballot, noting it is better left up to the voters than a small handful of people.