Florissant Municipal Election Candidates Speak at Democratic Club
City Council, school board and board of trustees candidates each gave a five-minute presentation regarding their candidacy.
More than 25 Florissant residents and members of the Florissant Township Open Democratic Club heard from candidates of April’s municipal election.
One by one, Florissant City Council, Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood Boards of Education and St. Louis Community College (SLCC) Board of Trustees candidates spoke for five minutes about who they are and their plans if elected to their position.
City Council candidates show Florissant love
Ward 7 and Ward 9 candidates each spoke about their passion for Florissant and how they would like to see the city in the future.
Ward 9 candidate Michael Bober said that he would like to focus on keeping young families in Florissant and in the North St. Louis County area. He also said that being in his thirties would allow him to bring new ideas and contributions to the council table.
Bober also pledged to go to every homeowner’s home in his ward once a year, if elected.
Incumbent Ben Hernandez explained his consistency in staying in touch with residents in his six years as councilman, including having calls forwarded to his cell phone.
“As long as people are satisfied, that is all that matters to me,” he said. “I’ve always done the best I can.”
Ward 7 Councilwoman Karen McKay gave her story and history of living and serving the Florissant area and explained the “cancer” afflicting the Florissant area and North County.
“We have a cancer that is happening in North St. Louis County, and it’s not crime,” she said. “We are the stewards of North St. Louis County and Florissant. If you say one negative thing, it spreads like a cancer.”
Meanwhile, her challenger Jackie Pagano expressed her love and commitment to the community that she has lived in her whole life.
“I feel I have the time to give back to Florissant what it gave me,” Pagano said. “I believe if government and people work together, anything is possible.”
Schools get in on the action
Candidates for the Ferguson-Florissant and Hazelwood Boards of Education also gave their short spiels on their respective school districts and the directions they needed to go. Three candidates are vying for two seats on each respective board.
Ferguson-Florissant candidate Brian Scott Ebert spoke about how the district has impacted the lives of his children, especially his eldest son, and how he’s ready to do the same as a board member.
“I just want to be a part of the big process and give back to a district that helped this dad,” he said.
He said that he would like to get more parents involved at every level and limit the separation between private and public schools.
Current board member Paul Schroeder spoke of his accomplishments as a board member and the developments happening in the district.
When asked by former Mayor Robert Lowery about the lack of books in schools, Schroeder said that changes in technology have allowed students to have a greater number of resources for their classes.
Hazelwood School District board member Desiree Whitlock spoke proudly about the accomplishments and movement of the district and said the current board needs to remain in place to keep it moving.
Following behind her, board member Mark Behlmann said that he has sat on the board for 15 years and spoke about the district’s accomplishments but also addressed the Turner vs. Clayton case, which has concerned a number of districts.
The Turner vs. Clayton case deals with allowing students from an unaccredited district attend a neighboring accredited district.
(For our previous coverage on the court case, check out School Districts to Legislature: Save us From a Flood of Students.)
“We’ll take the children, but who’s going to pay for them?” he asked. “How are we going to get paid?”
Ferguson-Florissant candidate Barbara Morris and Hazelwood School District candidate Keith L. Boykins Sr. did not attend the forum.
SLCC Board of Trustees candidates speak out briefly
At the end of the night, three of the four candidates for the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees Subdistrict 1 position spoke about their qualifications for the board.
Incumbent and Rep. Margo McNeil (D-Florissant) chose not to seek re-election. Subdistrict 1 includes the Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant, Riverview Gardens, Jennings, Pattonville, Ritenour, University City, Normandy, Clayton and Ladue school districts.
Doris Graham, who served on the Ferguson-Florissant Board of Education for more than 20 years, said that she’s passionate about education and would want to broaden the community’s involvement with the system and increase communication between levels.
Philip E. Smith, a retired teacher from the SLCC system, said, “St. Louis Community College offers an opportunity that four-year colleges can’t represent.” He also said that he thought his educational background would be able to well serve SLCC Board of Trustees.
Daryl Cothran, who announced that he has not been an educator previously, said that his experience with finance and accounting would serve as a benefit to the board of trustees in contract negotiations and budgets.
Candidate Theodis Brown Sr. did not attend the forum.
Candidates will be on the municipal election ballot on April 3.