Editor’s note: Candidates for mayor of Springfield, City Council and school board were invited to submit a column in their own words explaining why they are seeking election April 4, or focusing on a topic of their choosing. All guest columns will be published by March 30.
My family chose Springfield. When my husband and I uprooted our lives and moved from Memphis in 2004 to seek a safer environment with our two young children, we chose Springfield.
My husband was able to transfer his employment at BNSF Railway, and we left our extended families behind for a new home in what was at that time, one of the safest cities in the nation. Moving to Springfield was like finding Utopia for us. Goods, services, and housing were relatively inexpensive, people were friendly and happy, and the beauty of the Ozarks was breathtaking.
While living in Memphis, I earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1997, then took a position as a Victim/Witness Coordinator with the District Attorney General’s Office. This position endeared me toward public service and eventually motivated me to pursue my Juris Doctor at the University of Memphis. I was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 2003, but having just brought my first child into the world, I took a professional hiatus to pursue a career as a stay-at-home mom. I surrendered my law license in 2013, knowing I would not be moving back to Tennessee to practice law there.
In 2017, I decided I had enough free time to transition into part-time employment, and accepted a position at the Greene County Sheriff’s Office as a Records Clerk. There I gained essential skills in the areas of conflict resolution and communication between various governmental organizations. Working in law enforcement for six years has prepared me to better support our police and provide the resources and solutions necessary to respond to and reduce crime in Springfield. Recent certified training in Civil and Family Mediation uniquely qualifies me to bring a spirit of compromise and consensus to City Council discussions and decisions.
I have become a community advocate over the past four years as a board member and then the president of the Galloway Village Neighborhood Association and the captain of the Galloway Village Neighborhood Watch. I was instrumental in our organization’s formation, and helped our association navigate not only a frustrating zoning case, but also the intense legal battle that followed. I led our association in raising over $70,000 for legal expenses and the subsequent successful “Vote No Question 1” campaign. I have become extensively familiar with Springfield’s zoning ordinance and City Charter through these efforts, and have attended and participated in dozens of meetings with city staff, Landmarks Board, Planning and Zoning and City Council.
I decided to run for mayor after experiencing first-hand the marginalization of our neighborhoods and the deep disconnect that currently exists between our city government and its citizens. Fresh, new perspectives on City Council will help effectively implement the new Forward SGF Plan, encourage responsible preparation for future anticipated growth, and ensure Springfield’s history and identity are preserved.
With costs rising on virtually everything, knowing how our tax dollars are being spent is vital to confidence in government. At the recent MSU Paws to the Polls Candidate Forum, Councilman Abe McGull noted that 3 billion dollars in assets are managed between the City of Springfield and City Utilities each year. Springfield will receive about $40 million in American Rescue Plan funds alone that must be spent by 2026.
Transparency in our city’s financial affairs is a top priority. In order to accomplish this, we must fill the “Internal Investigator” position provided for in our City Charter and task that individual with creating a mechanism for citizens to easily access information about the city’s financial affairs. This position has been vacant since 2013 — far too long.
Another major challenge facing Springfield is public safety. It has been heartbreaking for me to watch Springfield’s dramatic increase in crime. Crime began to increase sharply in 2010, and Springfield has been consistently named as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation for the past several years. To address this critical issue, we must offer competitive pay and effective training to our officers and new recruits in order to ensure our Police Department is fully staffed and effective.
In recent years, community engagement strategies have been underutilized. We must revitalize neighborhood and apartment watch programs in order to promote increased communication between neighbors and police. Ultimately, closer knit communities will provide better support and information to law enforcement, thereby clearing more cases and reducing calls for service.
As mayor of Springfield, I will concentrate on rebuilding confidence and communication between our city government and the community. I will bring a community-first perspective that will help ensure all Springfield’s challenges are viewed through the lens of the average citizen, not a special interest group. I will prioritize quality of life issues like crime, housing, and poverty by enlisting the help, ideas and opinions of our community’s strongest asset — our citizens.
In their own words: Mayoral candidate Ken McClure
I’m passionate about Springfield — that’s what drives my desire to serve. My approach to governing is collaborative, balanced by a desire to make the right decisions now while also considering the impact to future generations.