(Photo by Shannon Cay)

Editor’s note: This story was updated April 2 to correct information about estimated proceeds if voters approve the city ballot question on a room tax.

The campaigns are in the final days and now it is up to you, the voters, to choose your representatives for Springfield mayor, City Council and school board — and to decide ballot issues ranging from a $220 million bond to improve Springfield schools to whether to permanently extend the room tax for city hotels, motels and vacation rentals.

For the past several weeks, the Springfield Daily Citizen staff has been bringing you in-depth coverage of the competitive races on the April 4 ballot.

Now, as a public service, we are providing this free Springfield MO Voting Guide, offering a quick recap of the offices and ballot measures facing Springfield voters.

Follow the links to all of the detailed coverage.

  • Subscribers have unlimited access to all of our coverage.
  • Any registered user on the website can access three articles for free.
  • “In Their Own Words” columns by the candidates are free to access.

To skip ahead, you can click on any of these links to jump to coverage of:

Election day basics: when, how, where to vote (click to expand)

When is the election?

Election Day is April 4. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

How do I register to vote or check my registration?

  • The registration deadline to vote on April 4 has already passed.
  • Check this website to confirm the status of your registration.

Where do I vote?

You can find a searchable map with a list of polling locations by scrolling down on this Voting Information page from the Greene County Clerk’s office.

What kind of identification do I need in order to vote?

You will be required to provide some type of valid government-issued photo ID (see examples) in order to vote on April 4. Examples include: a non-expired Missouri drivers license, or obtain a free non-drivers license issued by the state; a U.S. passport; or a military photo ID.

Can I vote early by absentee ballot?

A special two-week window allows for “no-excuse” absentee voting. Two locations are available:

  • At the Greene County Elections Center, 1126 N. Boonville Ave., you can vote March 31 (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), April 1 (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and April 3 (from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
  • The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave., was added as an early-voting location this spring by County Clerk Shane Schoeller. You can vote there on March 31 or on April 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get details here.

How do I learn about the offices up for election and the candidates?

Step 1. You need to determine the districts in which you live. Use the same state website where you check your voter registration.

  • Once you confirm your registration, you will see information about where you vote and your overall jurisdiction (for instance, Greene County).
  • Look for the icon that says “View My Districts” for a complete list of your federal, state, county and municipal districts, including if you reside in the Springfield R-12 School District, and your Springfield City Council zone.

Step 2. Once you know your districts, you can learn basic information about the candidates and ballot issues below — and read full Daily Citizen coverage by clicking on the related list of headlines.

Also, you can download a sample ballot here for all Greene County elections.

Springfield R-12 Public Schools: four candidates for two seats on the board

From left to right, Springfield Public Schools Board of Education candidates Judy Brunner, Landon McCarter, Chad Rollins and incumbent Shurita Thomas-Tate field questions at a forum sponsored by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce on March 23, 2023. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

One current Springfield Public Schools board member, Shurita Thomas-Tate, is seeking re-election on April 4, along with three other candidates — Landon McCarter, Judy Brunner and Chad Rollins — all competing for two open seats on the board. 

While the election has taken on a partisan tenor, seats on the seven-member board are officially nonpartisan. They also are volunteer positions.

The two candidates who receive the most votes will be sworn in April 11 to serve three-year terms. The board sets district policies and budgets, and hires and evaluates the superintendent, who is their only employee. Superintendent Grenita Lathan is in her second year and the board in January unanimously approved an extension of her contract through 2025-26 school year.

McCarter is a Kickapoo High School graduate, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Secure Agent Marketing. Read more: Who is Landon McCarter? (free access)

Thomas-Tate is an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Read more: Who is Shurita Thomas-Tate? (free access)

Brunner is a former administrator in the Springfield schools and works now as an author and consultant, with expertise in best practices for addressing school safety and bullying. Read more: Who is Judy Brunner? (free access)

Rollins is a pharmacist and fitness enthusiast. Read more: Who is Chad Rollins? (free access)

Springfield R-12 Public Schools: Proposition S $220 million bond

Blue Ribbon Task Force reviewing Pershing School’s Gym. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

On April 4, voters will decide on Proposition S, a ballot measure that will determine if the district’s current 73-cent tax levy is extended. If voters approve it, the district will issue $220 million in bonds to fund the following projects:

  • Constructing a new Pipkin Middle School and a new Reed Middle School
  • Renovating and rebuilding Pershing School, currently a K-8 school
  • Constructing and installing storm shelters at six elementary schools and safety and security upgrades at all school facilities

The ballot language reads as follows:

Shall the School District of Springfield R-XII issue its general obligation bonds in the amount of $220,000,000 for the purpose of constructing, improving, extending, repairing, rebuilding, renovating, acquiring, furnishing and equipping new and existing school facilities and purchasing land therefor, including (1) safety and security upgrades at all school facilities, (2) constructing a new Pipkin Middle School and a new Reed Middle School, (3) renovating Pershing School, and (4) constructing storm shelters at the following elementary schools: Cowden, Holland, Mann, Pittman, If this proposition is approved, there will be no increase to the District’s debt service property tax levy and it will remain at $0.7300 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation of real and personal property.

Springfield Mayor: Incumbent Ken McClure and challenger Melanie Bach

Mayor Ken McClure (photo: submitted)
Mayoral candidate Melanie Bach. (Photo by Rance Burger)

Current Springfield Mayor Ken McClure is seeking a fourth two-year term as mayor of Springfield. His challenger is Melanie Bach, a neighborhood organizer.

The mayor presides over meetings of the City Council, which includes eight other members who are elected to four-year terms. The mayor has an equal vote to other council members. While council members are unpaid, the mayor receives $200 per month in recognition of the higher level of work involved, and can be reimbursed for up to $100 per month for expenses.

McClure, has a long history of public service at the state and local level, including as chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission, and finally retiring from Missouri State University in July 2015, having served as vice president for administrative and information services. He was elected to the Springfield City Council in 2015, and then elected mayor in 2017. By city charter, a mayor may not serve more than four consecutive two-year terms. More bio on his campaign website.

Bach is a newcomer to seeking elective office, but led a successful campaign last fall to overturn city approval of a development across from Sequoita Park in her Galloway Village neighborhood. Bach is from Memphis and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a law degree from the University of Memphis. She never practiced law, as she and her family moved to Springfield, where her husband works for the BNSF Railroad. Bach home-schooled her children and started volunteering as an election judge with the Greene County Clerk’s Office. She also took a part-time job as a records clerk with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. She worked there for six years. She resigned from that office to run for mayor. More bio on her campaign website.

Springfield General C: Callie Carroll vs. Jeremy Dean (replacing Andrew Lear)

Callie Carroll (Photo by Rance Burger)
Jeremy Dean (Photo provided by candidate)

Council member Andrew Lear is not seeking re-election and two newcomers to city politics are seeking the General Seat C on council — representing the entire city.

Callie Carroll is vice president, business development and shareholder relations officer at OMB/Old Missouri Bank. She is a Springfield native and graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. She worked at CBS affiliate in Greenville, Mississippi, as a morning anchor, producer, and reporter, before returning to Springfield in 2017 to be closer to family. She was director of athletics development at Missouri State University before joining OMB in 2021. She has served on numerous boards such as Champions Committed to Kids, Ozarks Regional YMCA, Council of Churches, Springfield Police Foundation and Leadership Council for Springfield’s Young Professionals. Campaign website.

Jeremy Dean is office coordinator in an OB/GYN clinic at CoxHealth. He describes himself as a Springfield native and studied at the University of Central Missouri. He moved back to Springfield to care for his mother. If elected, he would become the first openly gay member of the Springfield City Council. “I think having that representation on City Council will show people that Springfield is open,” Dean told the Springfield News-Leader. Campaign website.

Springfield General D: Derek Lee vs. Bruce Adib-Yazdi (replacing Richard Ollis)

Derek Lee, City Council General Seat D candidate. (Photo by Jym Wilson)
Bruce Adib-Yazdi, City Council General Seat D candidate. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Council member Richard Ollis is not seeking re-election and two men with experience in city development are seeking the General Seat D on council — representing the entire city.

Derek Lee is a civil engineer who has owned and operated an engineering company, Lee Engineering & Associates, for 23 years. He has represented developers in meetings before the City Council. He previously applied to be appointed to fill a city council vacancy in 2018 but was not chosen. Campaign website.

Bruce Adib-Yazdi is an architect and vice president of development with Vecino Group. He moved to Springfield in 1990 and had his own architecture firm before helping found the Vecino Group. He has served on the Downtown Springfield Association board and also as president of Ozark Greenways. Campaign website.

Springfield Zone 3: Brandon Jenson vs. David Nokes (southwest Springfield, replacing Mike Schilling)

Brandon Jenson, Zone 3 candidate for City Council. (Photo by Jym Wilson)
David Nokes, City Council Zone 3 candidate. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Council member Mike Schilling is not seeking re-election and two newcomers to city politics are seeking the Zone 3 seat on council.

Brandon Jenson is a community manager for the Missouri Community Development Block Grant program. He grew up in the Springfield area and is a graduate of Missouri State University. He has served as president of the West Central Neighborhood Alliance and also is co-chair of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Housing Collaborative. Campaign website.

David Nokes is a retired Springfield police officer, retiring with the rank of major after 23 years of service. He also worked seven years as a Department of Corrections probation and parole officer in Springfield, and another five years as the police supervisor at the Springfield-Branson National Airport. He also served as president of the Chesterfield Village Homeowners Association, and on the Springfield-Greene County Environmental Advisory Board.

Springfield Zones 1 and 2: Monica Horton and Abe McGull running unopposed

Monica Horton, Springfield City Council, Zone 1. (Photo by Jym Wilson)
Abe McGull, Springfield City Council, Zone 2. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Two members of the Springfield City Council are running unopposed for election.

In Zone 1, Monica Horton is running for the first time to retain her seat on the City Council after being appointed in April 2022, following the vacancy left by former City Councilwoman Angela Romine in her ultimately unsuccessful state Senate campaign. Horton will serve the remaining two years of Romine’s term, then will decide whether to seek a full four-year term in 2025. Horton owns and operates Lenica Consulting Group and has been active in many community organizations since moving to Springfield 10 years ago. She is a Kansas City native.

In Zone 2, Abe McGull is seeking his second term after first being elected in 2019. McGull, a New Orleans native, worked as a broadcast journalist and joined the Navy, serving in the Navy Reserve for 21 years. After law school in Kansas City, he worked in the Department of Justice as an assistant U.S. attorney, also for 21 years, and also served as a city councilman and mayor for the Kansas City suburb Pleasant Valley, Missouri. He later joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in Springfield before going into private practice and now owns and operates McGull Law Firm.

Springfield ballot issues

On April 4, Springfield voters will decide on three ballot questions. Two of the questions would make changes to the City Charter, while the third deals with the room tax for city hotels, motels and vacation rentals.

Below is the ballot language and what each question means in layman’s terms.

Question 1: update human resources policies

Shall Sections 3.3, 6.1, 6.2, 6.5, 6.6, and 6.7 of the Springfield City Charter be amended to change the word “personnel” to the phrase “human resources,” authorize the city manager to allow the director of human resources to remove some types of non-regular employees, revise the list of positions in the unclassified service to add some positions and remove others, add provisions related to employee reinstatement and promotion, expand the application of the veterans’ preference to all veterans of the United States armed forces who served active duty and were honorably discharged, and revise the provision authorizing a five-point veterans’ preference to a requirement to provide a reasonable veterans’ preference?

What it means:

A Yes vote would alter the language in six sections of the Springfield City Charter regarding hiring, firing and employee management. Springfield switched the name of its “personnel department” to “human resources department” in the 1990s, but the laws on the books don’t reflect the name change.

Director of Human Resources Darla Morrison said the ballot measure is a combination of “housekeeping items” and “changes that we see as critical to our present day or modern workforce needs.”

A “Yes” vote would give the director of human resources ability to terminate the employment of temporary, seasonal and contract workers. Presently, only the city manager has such authority by law. Morrison said the charter is restrictive of Springfield’s ability to hire “non-regular” employees, which include seasonal workers or workers with fluctuating hours, which can affect the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and the Springfield Art Museum, among other city-run agencies.

Question 1 would also update language written in 1953 intended to help veterans returning to the United States from World War II and/or the Korean War. It would maintain the City of Springfield’s preference toward hiring military veterans, but extend the preference beyond only veterans who served in an overseas conflict.

A No vote would leave veterans preference only to those who served on active duty in time of war or a military action overseas. It would keep veterans’ preference subject to a maximum of five points on a 100-point scale the City of Springfield uses to score each candidate who applies for a job with the city. It would leave all other language in the Springfield City Charter concerning human resources, hiring and firing as it stands today.

Question 2: speedier action on accepting bids

Shall Section 2.16(25) of the Springfield City Charter be amended to authorize that an ordinance approving acceptance of a bid and entry into contract with the successful bidder may be passed at the City Council meeting at which it is introduced?

What it means:

A Yes vote would offer the Springfield City Council some flexibility with letting certain contracts out to bid and awarding them to contractors. If Question 2 passes, the City Council could start exercising options to award contracts with a single bill reading at a single meeting, rather than reading a bill twice over a period of two meetings, with two or three weeks’ time in between.

“Reducing the amount of time might increase the number of vendors who are willing to bid on our contracts, because they have to make less of a commitment of time — how long to hold their bid open,” Springfield City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader said. “A notice to proceed could be issued quicker if you only had one reading instead of having to wait for a second council meeting.”

A No vote would keep the City of Springfield’s process of bidding as it is, with contracts requiring two readings before a final vote of the City Council.

Question 3: room tax

Shall the City of Springfield, Missouri: Repeal the existing five percent license tax (which includes a minimum license tax of $5.00 per monthly license) imposed on the business of renting, leasing, or letting living quarters, sleeping accommodations, rooms, or a part thereof, in connection with any hotel, motel or tourist court, of which two and one-half percent will end upon the repayment of debt issued for the Jordan Valley park projects; and

Replace it with a five percent license tax, to be effective on July 1, 2023, imposed on the business of renting, leasing, or letting living quarters, sleeping accommodations, rooms, or a part thereof, in connection with any hotel, motel, tourist court, or short-term rental, derived from or paid by transient guests for sleeping accommodations, and to be allocated as follows for the benefit of the local economy:

  • Forty-seven percent of tax proceed used to promote travel and tourism,
  • Four and one-half percent of tax proceeds used to attract and host sporting events,
  • Four and one-half percent of tax proceeds used to support the arts and cultural tourism, and
  • The balance of tax proceeds used to pay debt service for bonds issued under the prior license tax and to fund capital improvements, including by issuing and paying debt service for bonds, to attract travel and tourism.

What it means:

A Yes vote would allow for the consolidation of three lodging taxes into a single lodging tax — and it would apply the tax to short-term vacation rentals, such as Airbnb listings.  Springfield voters enacted a 2-percent lodging tax in 1979, a 2-and-½-percent lodging tax addition approved in 1998, and a ½-percent lodging tax enacted in 2004. The 2004 tax is earmarked to attract sporting events and conventions.

If approved, the consolidated 5 percent tax on lodging is estimated to generate $6.8 million in fiscal year 2024. With the new allocation, the breakdown would be roughly:

  • Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, $3.2 million.
  • Sports Commission, $307,000.
  • Springfield Regional Arts Council, $307,000.
  • The remainder would go to pay the debt for the original Jordan Valley redevelopment project. It is estimated that will be paid off in fiscal year 2028. When that occurs, money would be directed to capital projects to support tourism.  

The new licensing tax for lodging and short-term rentals would become effective July 1.

A No vote would keep Springfield’s three lodging taxes as they are. Lodging taxes would not apply to short-term rentals, like properties rented on Airbnb. The 2-and-½-percent lodging tax enacted in 1998 would sunset in 2028.

Compiled from reports by Cory Matteson, Rance Burger and Jack McGee, as well as public sources.