Filing to run for next year's city council elections begin next week. The April municipal election will decide Springfield's mayor and five other seats on council. With two incumbents retiring, several races are wide open for newcomers who could reshape local government.
City residents interested in running for council have been able to pick up election packets from the City Clerk's office since Oct. 3. To qualify for the ballot and run for mayor or a city-wide "general" seat, applicants must collect at least 200 signatures from registered voters inside city limits. Those seeking a zone-specific seat need to collect 100 signatures of registered voters who live in that particular zone.
Candidates can turn in election signatures and other paperwork beginning Monday, Dec. 5 and through the Jan. 14 registration deadline. The election will be held April 4.
Here's a rundown of those have picked up election packet and say they intend to run as of Dec. 2.
Potential candidates for Springfield mayor
Current Mayor Ken McClure is running for a fourth and final term. Springfield's City Charter prohibits a mayor from serving more than eight consecutive years. First elected in 2017, McClure would not be allowed to run in 2025 should he win another two-year term in April.
Most prominent among McClure's potential rivals for office is Melanie Bach, president of the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association. Bach cut her teeth in electoral campaigns on the recently defeated ballot measure that would have allowed rezoning for a development across the street from Sequiota Park. The landslide defeat of that rezoning — more than 70% voted no — was the culmination of several years of legal challenges and organizing by the GVNA.
During the referendum campaign, McClure voiced his support for the development — arguing its rejection at the ballot box would discourage future development in Springfield.
Reached by the News-Leader, Bach said she has not decided whether she will run for mayor but is strongly considering a run.
Council General Seat C
General Seat C is currently held by Andy Lear but he recently announced he will not run for re-election — leaving an open race for one of the at-large seats representing all of Springfield.
So far, two individuals have picked up election packets to run for the seat, but one confirmed to the News-leader they plan to run for a different council seat.
The other potential candidate, Callie Carrol, is vice-president of business development and shareholder relations at Old Missouri Bank. She previously was employed as director of athletic development at Missouri State University and was a morning news anchor in Mississippi.
Carrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the News-Leader.
General Seat D
General Seat D is currently represented by Richard Ollis. Reached by the News-Leader, Ollis confirmed he plans to run for re-election. As with all general seats, Springfield residents from across the city will be able to vote in the race.
Ollis was appointed to city council in 2017 before winning his first full four-year term in 2019. He is CEO and chairman of Ollis/Akers/Arney Insurance Agency and is a U.S. Navy veteran. Before his time in city government, Ollis served as president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and helped form the Good Government Committee, a separate entity that recruits and trains residents to run for city council, along with raising money for favored candidates.
Ollis is also the founder of Restore SGF, which aims to promote homeownership and rehabilitate housing in Springfield’s historic neighborhoods.
Two individuals are running against Ollis so far.
Derek Lee is a civil engineer and owner of local firm Lee Engineering and Associates. Lee has previously served on the city's Board of Adjustment and Development Core Team. He also was previously a member of the chamber's Development Issues Input Group.
Hotel Vandivort valet Curtis Vaughn is also considering a run. He previously ran a longshot bid in the Republican U.S. Senate primary earlier this year, losing to Missouri Attorney General — and now Senator-elect — Eric Schmitt.
Reached by the News-Leader, Vaughn said he will decide soon whether to run or not. He told the News-Leader he is motivated to run because he believes Ollis does not support Springfield neighborhoods and "penalizes poverty" in his role on council.
City Council Zone 1
Councilwoman Monica Horton was appointed to represent northwest Zone 1 earlier this year after former councilwoman Angela Romine vacated the seat to pursue a failed bid for state senate. Even though Zone 1 had an election in 2021, voter will again get to choose someone to serve the final two years of Romine's vacated term.
Horton has previously announced her intention to run for the seat she was appointed to this year. She is the CEO and lead consultant at Lenica Consulting Group and is a part-time professor at Drury College teaching music therapy and certification in diversity, equity and inclusion.
So far, the only person to pick up an election packet to run against Horton is David Eric Jensen, who could not be reached by the News-Leader.
City Council Zone 2
Incumbent Abe McGull confirmed with the News-Leader his intention to run a second time for his northeast Springfield council seat, which he was elected to in 2019.
McGull is a Springfield attorney who is a military veteran and worked 21 years as an Assistant United States Attorney.
As of Friday, no other Zone 2 resident has picked up an election packet with an intention to run against McGull.
City Council Zone 3
Councilman Mike Schilling confirmed to the News-Leader he does not plan to run for re-election. He has represented southwest Springfield on city council since 2015.
Two individuals have picked up packets to run in the newly wide-open race.
Brandon Jenson is a program manager for the state Community Development Block Grant program. He previously worked for the Southwest Missouri Council of Governments and as a city planner in the Denver metro area. Just 28 years old, Jensen studied Community and Regional Planning at Missouri State University. He is also president of the West Central Neighborhood Alliance.
Reached by the News-Leader, Jensen confirmed his intention to run for city council.
David Nokes also picked up a packet to run for the seat. He is a retired police officer who has often spoken at public meetings of Springfield's school board. He did not immediately respond to the News-Leader.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Open Springfield City Council races, mayoral contest coming April 4