Angela Romine (left) took her oath on Springfield City Council in 2021. Shortly after, she left the council to run for state office. (Photo: City of Springfield)

A little over an hour before Tuesday night’s Springfield City Council meeting was set to begin, Mayor Ken McClure checked the Missouri Secretary of State’s website to peruse the list of candidates who filed for state and federal offices on the first day that they could.

When he looked up the filings for Missouri’s 30th Senate District, only one name appeared on the list, and it wasn’t one he expected to see — Springfield City Councilwoman Angela Romine. 

“Double take’s a good, good description of it,” McClure said, when asked about his reaction. “Obviously, I was a bit shocked to see that — had no expectation that that was going to happen. So that was not what I was expecting to see. Let’s put it that way.”

After seeing her filing, McClure called the city manager and then the city clerk. Then they spoke with the city attorney to make sure their collective reading of the city charter was correct. 

“And the charter is pretty clear,” McClure said. 

It states that no councilmember, during his or her term, shall be a candidate or nominee or holder of any other lucrative public office. So, as council members arrived at Historic City Hall in advance of the 6:30 p.m. meeting, McClure informed them that Romine was no longer a member of the council, having vacated her seat due to her decision to run for the Senate seat. 

Romine said in a message to the Daily Citizen on Wednesday that she was unavailable until Thursday to talk about her decision to run for the Missouri State Senate seat, which is currently held by Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield. 

Hough, who was elected to his first term in 2018, had not filed to run on the first date of eligibility, but told the Daily Citizen Wednesday he will be filing soon. Hough previously served three terms in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2010-2016. He was on the Greene County Commission from 2016 to the time he was elected to the Missouri Senate in 2018.

Hough said that he will campaign on his record, pointing out his workforce incentive grant bill that was passed during his first year in office and that he is the current Vice Chairman of the Missouri Senate Committee on Appropriations and that he’s slated to become Chairman if re-elected. 

“We’ve got roughly a $45 billion dollar budget that I help craft every year,” he said. “Most folks in the community know my commitment to, not just our higher education folks, but also K-12 and workforce development and infrastructure in this state. I’ve got a pretty good track record, in my opinion, and I think the community has appreciated some of the work that I’ve put together over the last few years up here in Jeff City and we’ll run a campaign and see if they want to send me back.”

Romine was elected to the City Council in April 2021 to represent Zone 1, which is the northwestern zone of Springfield.

She has made the news by falsely claiming the COVID-19 vaccine has produced more side effects than any other vaccine created. She cast the lone vote against providing grant funding for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s Finish Strong 417: Neighbor to Neighbor initiative, which includes a door-to-door effort to speak with residents about their vaccination decisions, and she was also the only member to not vote in support of a resolution to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

Hough has voiced concern about vaccination mandates, but he has joined with other Springfield representatives in recommending that residents get vaccinated, while hosting a bipartisan vaccination clinic at the end of July.  

Hough said in an interview with the Daily Citizen that he doesn’t want to believe getting a vaccine or not should be “a political football to be punted around.” Hough, who has two brothers who are doctors, said that he recommends that people make the decision on their own, with the advice of professionals. 

“People should talk to their doctors, talk to their healthcare providers, and take the information that they get from the folks who actually are tasked with helping save lives every day, and make decisions based on that,” he said. 

Mayor spoke to Romine during Council meeting; unsure if she knew decision would trigger vacancy

McClure said he tried to call Romine before the council meeting began Tuesday evening, to discuss the process that her decision to file had set in motion. He texted her, and then later spoke with her during the City Council meeting, which he said Romine did not attempt to attend. He said he spoke with Romine over the phone during the meeting.

It’s likely that Romine was somewhere between Springfield and Jefferson City when McClure hit his gavel at 6:30 p.m. Romine’s filing was timestamped at 4:28 p.m. Tuesday. 

“I passed the chair over to Councilman (Craig) Hosmer to preside, and was able to talk to her at that point,” he said. “It was then that I said, by virtue of your actions the seat’s been vacated, and we’re going to be needing to put a statement out here at some point.”

Asked if Romine said whether or not she knew that her decision to run for state office would result in her vacating her City Council seat, McClure said that subject did not come up during their phone call.

“That did not come up, but she would be the best one to address that,” he said.

The city released its statement at 8:36 p.m. on Tuesday. 

“Zone 1 Councilwoman Angela Romine has vacated her seat on City Council to file candidacy for the District 30 State Senate seat in the Missouri General Assembly,” it read. “According to the Missouri Secretary of State’s website, Romine filed for candidacy at 4:28 p.m. (Feb. 22).” 

McClure said the City Council is tasked with filling Romine’s empty chair, “and we will start that process soon.” 

The Council will seek out applications from citizens who live in Zone One, and then it will be up to the council members to interview qualified applicants and make a decision. Once someone is appointed, that person will serve as the Zone One council member until the next regular municipal election in April of 2023. They would be eligible to run after that, but only for the remaining two-year term of what was originally a four-year term, meaning the seat would once again be up for reelection in April 2025. 

Two current Springfield City Council members — Andrew Lear and Matthew Simpson — were appointed by the Council and then were elected to continue serving following their appointments. 

“So we’ve done this before,” McClure said. “And we’ll hopefully have several good qualified applicants and be able to make a good decision.”

Ready to serve?

Those wishing to serve on Springfield’s City Council can apply for the Zone 1 seat from Feb. 25-March 11.

Springfield City Clerk Anita Cotter announced that her office would accept applications and statements of candidacy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until 5 p.m. on March 11.

Zone 1 has been represented by Angela Romine, but the seat is now vacant.

Zone One encompasses much of northwest Springfield.

The process for filling a vacant seat is laid out in the City Charter Section 2.5. According to  Cotter, eight members of the city council will appoint an individual to serve until a municipal election set for April 4, 2023.
Those interested can obtain an application online (link will be live at 8 a.m. Feb. 25) or in person from the Springfield City Clerk’s Office, located on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building, 840 North Boonville Avenue.

Qualifications

  • Must be a registered voter in the city of Springfield
  • Must have been a resident of the city of Springfield for at least two years prior to appointment
  • Must have been a resident of Zone One for at least one year immediately prior to appointment
  • Must not be disqualified from serving after being convicted of a felony.
  • Must not be disqualified from serving due to being delinquent on state and local tax payments.
  • Must have completed and filed Missouri Department of Revenue form 5120 per state law RsMO 115.306(2). Applications without Missouri Department of Revenue Form 5120 will not be accepted. 

After the March 11 deadline, the Springfield City Council will review the applications and start the process of appointment in an effort to fill the vacancy for Zone One.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger