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The election for several Springfield city council seats will take place Tuesday. In this first segment of our two-part series, KSMU’s Justin Lux takes a look at the candidates.
For General Council Seat C Doug Burlison is the incumbent. He’s running against Chris Donegan, a finance manager at a local auto-sales company.
Burlison says that besides already having experience serving on the council, his understanding of those who are forced to live paycheck to paycheck is what really sets him apart and qualifies him for the seat.
“Well, I’d say that I maintain a very good representation of those folks that are not at the top of the economic wage scale,” he says.
According to Burlison, one of his major concerns is this: he’s worried about legislation that would force Springfield to dedicate a lot of money toward the city’s water infrastructure, resulting in a higher cost of living.
“That’s an unnecessary burden on this community and I think that it would be wise of this council to challenge,” Burlison said.
Chris Donegan will be opposing Burlison and has experience serving on his church board as well as a local park board. Donegan has worked in the finance arena since graduating from Missouri State University in 1999 and says his work experiences should not be overlooked.
“I think my education and my work experience qualify me to make good decisions on behalf of the people,” Donegan says.
Donegan also sees Springfield’s rising cost of living as a major concern, but he says the city’s utility bills and sales taxes are the areas that need the most attention.
“My biggest concern is that those two things are handled appropriately and we work as hard as we can to try and lower both of those,” he says.
And in the race for the City Council General Seat D, Tom Bieker and Fred Ellison are opposing one another.
Bieker, who is part of a two-man engineering firm in Springfield, says his voice will be influential when concerning small businesses in the area.
“When we talk about small business and the effects that state decisions and municipal decisions have, and even the downturn in the economy, we understand, and I understand,” he says.
Bieker’s biggest concern is Springfield’s job growth. His worry is that if residents do not have good paying jobs, city programs for transportation and neighborhood safety will go by the wayside.
“To be able to attract businesses to town that are going to be able to have quality jobs with them is crucial and get the Springfield people employed in those positions,” Bieker says.
Fred Ellison, who will be opposing Bieker, says his knowledge of the city council system is an advantage.
“I believe that the fact that I’ve been involved in city finances and so forth for the last four to five years, been a very regular attendee of city council meetings which gives me some unique perspective on the operation and the issues that confront the city of Springfield,” he says.
Ellison, like many others, is worried about how the city plans to pay for the necessary improvements to the sanitary sewer system.
“I’m very concerned that we don’t raise sewer rates so high and so quickly that we create a situation where the residential customers can’t afford those increases and where we drive businesses to move,” Ellison says.
The election will be held Tuesday. All polls open at 6 am.
For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.