April 4 election: Springfield City Council voter guide
Springfield voters head to the polls in a few weeks to elect a new mayor and members of City Council. Below are snapshots from every campaign in the April 4 election.
Each candidate has been interviewed by the News-Leader and profiled in stories about each match-up individually.
Mayor: Ken McClure vs. Melanie Bach
Incumbent Mayor Ken McClure is running for his fourth and final term as mayor, an office he has held since 2017.
Before his entry into city politics, McClure spent much of his career in Jefferson City, where he served as chief of staff and transition director for Republican Gov. Matt Blunt and chair of the Missouri Public Service Commission.
McClure later returned to Springfield and worked at Missouri State University as a vice president before retiring in 2015.
In his final bid for public office, McClure faces challenger and Galloway Village Neighborhood Association President Melanie Bach.
Best known for leading the referendum campaign against a controversial development near Sequiota Park, Bach moved to Springfield in 2004 from Memphis. She received her law degree from the University of Memphis in 2001 but has not practiced law since moving to Springfield.
For the past six years until announcing her mayoral bid, Bach worked part-time in the Greene County Sheriff’s Office as a records clerk — completing the office's Sunshine Law records requests and other legal documents.
But Bach's long and ultimately battle with the city over the Galloway development is what brought her to prominence and convinced her to run against McClure, who supported the development at council meetings and in the referendum campaign.
More on the mayor's race:'If we do not grow, we will decline': Development takes center stage in mayoral contest
Given the candidates' history with one another, Springfield development and trust in city government have played major parts in the campaign.
Just as he did in the lead up to the Galloway vote, McClure in an interview with the News-Leader pointed to city growth as imperative to Springfield’s future success and the key to addressing many other problems the city faces.
"If we do not grow, we will decline, and a declining community eventually becomes a dead community. Our ability to continue to grow will ensure our vibrancy and our success,” McClure said.
But Bach labeled McClure and other city leaders as promoting “development at all costs.”
"Why are we not getting our major problems under control before we focus on growth?" Bach told the News-Leader.
"The bigger that we get and the larger that we grow, our problems are just going to become multiplied exponentially. So, if our crime problem and our shelter problem are already out of control, and everyday citizens and residents are having their quality of life affected by that, then why would we not want to focus on getting our issues more under control before we grow even larger?”
McClure has been endorsed by the Springfield Good Government Committee and the Springfield Police Officers Association. The Good Government Committee is a PAC jointly founded by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield. Bach has been endorsed by the local Teamsters union and Springfield Central Labor Council.
General Seat C: Callie Carroll vs. Jeremy Dean
Callie Carroll is communications specialist at Old Missouri Bank. A Springfield native, she previously worked as Director of Athletic Development at MSU and as a morning news anchor in communities outside of Missouri.
Only 25 years old, Jeremy Dean is an office coordinator for a CoxHealth OB-GYN clinic and one of the first openly gay Springfield City Council candidates.
Dean's campaign is decidedly anti-establishment, while Carroll hopes to be a "unifying voice" for all of Springfield.
"I hate — and I don't use that word often — but I hate ‘us versus them’ mentalities. I don't like it. I don't like it at all. I genuinely think for Springfield to be the city that we need, we need both. We have to have both sides,” Carroll told the News-Leader. She hopes to use her professional skills to help the city more effectively communicate with its residents.
More about General C council race:General C council candidates focus on community and business ties, development divide
Dean told the News-Leader he is fighting against "the elites" of Springfield as embodied by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
"I'm genuinely running to try and be a voice for the normal citizen here in Springfield," he told the News-Leader.
"I think that we often see elitists or people with a lot of money or organizations that have a lot of money represented within our city government, and I think that it's time that the citizens really step up and take the reins over their local government."
Dean has been endorsed by the Teamsters Local 245 union, while Carroll has been endorsed by the Springfield Good Government Committee.
General Seat D: Derek Lee vs. Bruce Adib-Yazdi
Both Derek Lee and Bruce Adib-Yazdi work in developing projects in Springfield and elsewhere but they have radically different ideas about how Springfield should address that issue and others.
Head of Lee Engineering & Associates, Derek Lee often represents developers at neighborhood meeting or before City Council. Adib-Yazdi is an architect and vice president of development at The Vecino Group development firm.
Based on his experience working with the city, Lee believes city regulations are too "onerous" for potential developers.
The city often tries to "take whatever it can" from a developer when their project needs rezoning, according to Lee.
"If you change in any way, if you subdivide, if you rezone if you want to change your use — you have to get what's called a conditional use permit. Any the city looks at that as a way to take whatever they want from a developer, whatever they can. Probably not all they want, but whatever they can, and it's gotten too much. I think that some of those things are necessary, but we've gone way too far with it."
More about General D council race:General D council candidates have similar backgrounds, different views
Adib-Yazdi likewise called the city's rezoning and development process "broken" but he believes the city unfairly prioritizes developers over concerned neighborhoods.
"If whatever shiny thing that's going to generate sales tax adversely effects neighborhoods or neighboring properties, then people aren't going to want to live there. So it's a hard balancing act …," he told the News-Leader. "But you have to do both. You have to generate more revenue, and you have to make the place better. It's not an either/or proposition."
The candidates also differ on their approach addressing public safety. Lee called crime his "number one issue" while Adib-Yazdi believes the issue is not as bad as many believe.
"We have got to provide a safe environment where people aren't afraid to go out. Right now people are afraid to park their vehicle outside because things are going to get stolen or they're going to get hurt," Lee told the News-Leader.
Asked how the city should address crime, Lee said there needs to be more support for police.
Adib-Yazdi cites recently announced data showing crime in the city fell 17 percent last year and told the News-Leader that the best way to address public safety is by "supporting, protecting and strengthening our neighborhoods."
In his view, since poverty is highly correlated with crime, the best way to reduce crime is to reduce poverty and increase homeownership.
Lee has been endorsed by the Springfield Good Government Committee and Springfield Police Officers Association, while Adib-Yazdi has been endorsed by the Central Labor Committee.
Zone 3: David Nokes vs. Brandon Jenson
David Nokes is a retired police officer who wants the city to get tough on crime, while Brandon Jenson is an economic development specialist and neighborhood advocate who wants to build a bridge between the city and its residents.
Nokes served as a police officer for 28 years, starting as a 21-year-old in his native Cassville. He worked 23 years at the Springfield Police Department, retiring at the rank of major. Jenson works for the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development as a program manager for federally-allocated Community Development Block Grants. He also serves as president of the West Central Neighborhood Alliance.
For Nokes, the most important issue facing Springfield is crime and public safety.
"I want the public to expect for the community to be safe. If you're a resident or visitor, you can expect to be safe in Springfield. We want people to come to Springfield. We want people to help us (with) economic growth," he said. "And if you're a person that wants to commit crimes in Springfield, your expectations should be you're gonna be held accountable, which means you probably will go to jail and be locked up."
More about Zone 3 council race:Generational battle in Zone 3 council race over public safety, equity, neighborhood trust
Nokes believes having someone who has direct law enforcement experience on council will be an asset for the body.
“What I want to bring to council is that the officers know they're supported. The most powerful tool that an officer has on the street is discretion. So the last thing you want an officer to be worried about is ‘Wow, if I make this decision or to arrest somebody, what's my leadership and city going to do?’ I want that far removed from the decision. They need to make the best decision they can at the time on the street and take care of the problem.”
Jenson, meanwhile, emphasizes the need for police officers to have as close a connection to the communities they serve as possible.
“I think community-based policing allows for more humane responses. And more effective responses long-term,” Jenson said. “We need officers to know those individuals and get to know the things they struggle with. That way they may know this person has a bad day on Tuesdays and here are the ways to help calm them down. That’s versus a police officer responding from across town who has no context of this person or how they're integrated with our neighborhood.”
Jenson's top priority should he be elected is to "restore trust" between the city and Springfield's neighborhoods. According to Jenson, there has been a "huge breakdown of communication" between the city and the public over a series of controversial developments in Springfield.
"I'm not sure that the city communicated the process in a way that allows folks to actually understand what goes into their decision-making process,” he said.
Nokes said he hopes to balance being "pro-growth" and "pro-development" with "the community and the citizens in the neighborhoods."
The two candidates also have radically different views on the city's adherence to diversity, equity and inclusion principles.
Though he is not running on his position on the issue and called it a "distraction," Nokes spoke before City Council in 2021 to oppose the city's proposed DEI guidelines, which were later unanimously approved.
At the time, Nokes said council was "slapping the city in the face" with their "vision of wokeness."
"The mayor and council are focused on pushing Black Lives Matter position of systemic racism. Good luck on hiring cops and retaining them while allying with BLM. The burden of proof lays on council and the mayor to back up their declaration that Springfield's core systems and institutions were racist," Nokes said.
Jenson is generally supportive of the type of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) trainings of which Nokes is a critic.
“At its core Diversity, Equity and Inclusion focuses on just recognizing that human beings are human beings and we're all going through our own lived experiences. Some days that's gonna be a heck of a lot more challenging for you than it might be for me," Jenson told the News-Leader.
Nokes has been endorsed by the Springfield Police Officers Association and Greene County Officers Association.
Zone 1: Monica Horton
Springfield Councilwoman Monica Horton is running unopposed this April.
The CEO and lead consultant at Lenica Consulting Group, Horton also is a part-time professor at Drury University teaching music therapy and certification in diversity, equity and inclusion.
She was appointed to represent the northwest Springfield Zone 1 last April after the former councilwoman, Angela Romine, vacated the seat to mount an unsuccessful primary campaign against Republican state Sen. Lincoln Hough. Because of her appointment, Horton was subject to a special election this year in order to finish out the final two years of Romine's term.
More about Monica Horton's plans:Unopposed in Zone 1, Councilwoman Monica Horton puts focus on housing, neighborhoods
Horton believes the city should do more to help people experiencing homelessness in Springfield — and specifically wants to see the city adopt a "Housing First" model to address the issue. Proponents of this model believe the best way to reduce homelessness is to focus on getting housing to those experiencing homelessness first, before dealing with other crises that person may be facing, such as not having a job or struggling with substance abuse.
The councilwoman also advocates for an ordinance to protect buildings in historic districts, like Commercial Street in Zone 1.
Her proposed "demolition by neglect" statute would in some form prevent or disincentivize property owners from purposely allowing buildings to deteriorate in an attempt to skirt historic preservation regulations.
Zone 2: Abe McGull
Springfield Councilman Abe McGull is running unopposed for a second term in City Hall. He promises to be a "safe pair of hands" for taxpayer money and to forge compromise over the next four years.
Though not a native to Springfield, public service has always been a calling for McGull. He spent most of his career serving in the Navy and as a federal prosecutor. Before coming to Springfield, he was mayor of Pleasant Valley, a small town near Kansas City. He was elected to Springfield City Council in 2019 after only a few years of living in the city.
In his second term, McGull wants voters to know he will be "fiscally responsible" with their money.
"The last thing I want to do is pass taxes because the same taxes that I pass or advocate for are the same taxes that I'd have to pay. I don't want to pay more taxes. I pay enough taxes. But I want us to continue to have a good standard of living here. Being able to have the appropriate services for our citizens and services that that we can maintain in the future. In order to do that we need sales tax and when we need revenue from sales tax, we need people to come here."
More about Abe McGull's plans:Councilman Abe McGull, unopposed in April election, promises 'safe pair of hands'
According to McGull, that's why council has focused so much on sports tourism in recent years — including a new soccer field near the airport, purchase of the Fieldhouse sports complex, and the recently approved purchase of Hammons Field. Springfield generates much of its revenue from sales tax — meaning Springfield needs to be a hub for tourism to grow.
"That's where we make our bread and butter of revenue," McGull said. "I think us keeping a focus on growing the economy here in Springfield through youth sports will allow us to continue to provide the necessary services to our citizens. Good police and fire protection, I think, makes us attractive place to live and make people want to visit, as well."
McGull has been endorsed by the Springfield Good Government Committee.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Who are the candidates for Springfield City Council on April 4