Ken McClure says he’s looking forward to working with his fellow council members and their collective constituents after winning the race for Springfield mayor Tuesday.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting as of early Wednesday, McClure held a 35 point lead over his opponent, Kristi Fulnecky. The two general seat incumbents both came to City Council in 2015. McClure says the first thing he’ll be focusing on as mayor is filling the vacancy created by his victory.
“Once we get that done we’re gonna coalesce in a retreat format where we can talk as a council and set what our priorities are – what is the direction that we want the city to head, and that is something we can pass along to our staff,” said McClure, speaking from the Gillioz Theatre Gallery where some 50 supporters had gathered.
McClure says establishing those priorities early will be key, as City Council will soon need to approve a budget that goes into effect July 1.
Aside from needing to appoint a member and McClure occupying the mayor’s seat, Council will look unchanged. Fulnecky will retain her General Seat C, which won’t be up for election again until April 2019. Meanwhile, all five council members seeking re-election won Tuesday.
Phyllis Ferguson retained her Zone 1 seat, Dr. Tom Prater will remain Zone 2 councilman, Craig Fishel will serve another term representing Zone 4, and Jan Fisk and Craig Hosmer were re-elected to general seats A and B, respectively.
“You know, we were called the Gang of 5 – that’s okay,” said Fisk. She was citing the way Fulnecky had referenced the council members who questioned her eligibility to serve after failing to pay for a business license. A retired judge later determined Fulnecky did not violate any laws.
Fisk continued, “We’re all a great group that we bonded together earlier, we support each other, and I think we’re going to move forward and do great things.”
In her concession speech, Funlecky told a crowd at Metropolitan Grill that it was “hard to run against an establishment” and to “make change.”
“But if anything, myself and the change candidates, we made one step towards the right direction. And whether it’d be us or the people come before us, I think it can be done. It might take a while, but I think we have the will. And Springfield needs to change. I will not let us become another Chicago on my watch.”
Fulnecky contended that “taxpayers’ money was spent going against me for a long time.”
She’s referring to allegations of city officials, including McClure, misusing public resources for political purposes. The claim was brought by the Springfield Police Officer’s Association (SPOA), which endorsed Fulnecky. It’s been referred to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
In terms of fundraising, both Fulnecky and McClure’s campaigns raised over $130,000 apiece.
Fulnecky, who said she is the first woman and minority to run for Springfield mayor, says she’ll continue to be a “citizen councilperson” and put people’s needs first.
For his part, McClure says he’s always tried to be a “consensus builder.”
“I’ve prided myself in my career in being able to listen, being able to work with people – either behind the scenes or upfront – and making sure that we do have that consensus once we talk through what the best direction is.”
McClure received about 68 percent of the vote in an election that drew right around 19 percent of registered voters to the polls. Springfield’s new mayor says he feels blessed by the support he received.
“When you drive down the street and see yard signs with your name on them on homes that I do not know who lives there - that’s a very humbling feeling.”