Springfield Zone 3 Candidates Speak On Economy, Public Safety, and Budget
Jerry Compton is Springfield City Council’s only incumbent on the April 7 ballot. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with the Zone 3 councilman and his challenger, Mike Schilling, to learn more on their goals for the city.
Compton was appointed to Springfield City Council in May of 2009 and was re-elected in April 2011. Last month he was named Mayor Pro Tem when Jeff Siefried resigned. He told us after a recent chamber breakfast that if re-elected, he’ll work on these three issues.
“Economic development, good well-paying jobs for our community. That not only helps families but it generates the tax revenue for public safety which is my second point. I want to make sure that the men and women that go out there every day and put their lives on the line for us, and those that support them through the 911 center, have the equipment that they need and the proper staffing. And the third thing is to strengthen our neighborhoods,” Compton says.
Compton has lived in Springfield his entire life. He was part of the creation of the Neighborhood Advisory Council, which brings together members from all of the recognized neighborhood associations to identify common problems and look for solutions.
Opponent Mike Schilling agrees in making public safety and neighborhood integrity a priority. However, he feels the economy is at the heart of each of these core issues and really wants to dig into the budget. Schilling served for eight years on the Missouri General Assembly and was on the Budget Committee during his term. Schilling says we need a “watchdog” on City Council—someone who will ask tough questions and work to prioritize spending.
“One of the things I’ve been concerned about is taking a lot of property tax money—or future money—and using it to subsidize developments without any kind of real scrutiny of how the public interest is being served by taking away future tax revenue that goes to schools, government services, public safety,” says Schilling.
Schilling, who was a journalist for many years, teaches American Government Politics at OTC and teaches journalism per course at MSU. During his time in the legislature, Schilling says not only did he learn about public policy but how to be approachable and in touch with the people he represented.
“I think a major is connecting with the constituents—connecting with the voters. I get a feeling being out there going door to door that there is remoteness there between the governing people and the governed. I think we should close that gap,” Schilling says.
Compton says he feels his track record speaks for itself.
“I’ve been on City Council for six years now. Prior to that I served on the Personnel Board for a year and a half, and before that I was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for six and a half years. I am the only current council member that has that experience in planning and zoning and that fits in with my experience as an architect. I’ve spent my entire career working on land development and planning issues,” says Compton.
Aside from Zone 3, the April 7 election features contested races for Springfield mayor, General Seat C, and Zone 2, as well as the controversial measure to repeal the city’s non-discrimination law.
The General Municipal Election is Tuesday, April 7.