According to the Greene County Clerk’s office, the April 2016 election had a paltry 10% voter turnout. This is absolutely unacceptable. This year’s General Municipal Election Day is April 4th and considering the state of chaos in which our country is currently embroiled, it is absolutely imperative that every single eligible citizen turn out on election day. Local elections matter.
On March 27th, the Springfield’s Neighborhood Advisory Council hosted the Mayoral and City Council Candidates Forum. This event was moderated by three local journalists who asked the candidates pre-selected questions submitted by the community and provided a space for the mayoral and city council candidates to express their views to the present community members. I went to this forum with very little knowledge of the candidate’s platforms, however I came away feeling informed and ready to do some research before the April 4th election.
The City of Springfield operates under the council-manager form of government which basically means that all of the laws, ordinances, and committee work that is done for the city of Springfield is done by the City Council. The City Council contains 8 council members total (each elected for four year terms), the mayor (elected for a two year term) who functions as the presiding officers at council meetings, and the city manager (who is appointed with no term limits by the city council) who serves as the chief administrative officer of the council.
The City Council is split into two groups: 4 City Council Members from each “zone” and the General Council Members. The city of Springfield is split into four zones and there is a city council member who represents each zone. These four council members function very similarly to the way the House of Representatives functions. The other four council members are part of the General Council so you can think of these council members like your Senators but at a local level.
Here is a quick run down of the views presented by the candidates at the Mayoral and City Council Candidates Forum. Not by any means comprehensive, this is but a brief summary of the many opinions that were expressed.
Kristi Fulnecky: On the issue of rising crime rates in Springfield, Fulnecky advocated for raising police pay, adding more police to the force, and increasing funding for police equipment. She mentioned multiple times how unsafe she and her family felt in Springfield and how dangerous Springfield’s homeless and panhandlers make the city. However, the most outrageous thing to come out of Fulnecky’s mouth was her claim that Springfield can not make any economic growth until it solves the problem of rising crime rates. This claim is completely backwards. Crime in Springfield is directly related to high rates of poverty, a problem which Fulnecky did not address save for a brief comment that as mayor she would highlight the work of non-profits that help low income families.
Ken McClure: In stark contrast to Fulnecky, Mayoral Candidate, Ken McClure was reasonable and level-headed in his assessment of Springfield’s crime rates. He suggested a focus on living wages, education, mental health and opioid abuse awareness to combat poverty which he recognized as the leading cause of crime rates in Springfield.
General Council Seat A:
Jan Fisk: Incumbent council-woman Jan Fisk appeared to have a level headed approach to policing and the issues of public safety until her closing statements in which she said she was ashamed of Springfield’s panhandlers and that it “gave the wrong impression to people passing through Springfield.” All of this after praising the gentrification of downtown Springfield, a project that culminated in much of the homelessness and panhandling that Fisk is so disgusted by. Oh the irony.
Jesse Coulter: When asked about environmental concerns, candidate Jesse Coulter said he is not really informed about environmental issues but he does think that homeless people pose a great threat to the environment.
Allen Kemper: When asked the same question, Allen Kemper, a candidate who quoted the Bible throughout all of his comments and kept mentioning his desire to “turn this city around” and make it reflect Christian values, said he is uninformed about environmental concerns. This is the same candidate who when asked on how best to combat domestic violence, suggested that the city enforce the Bible as its standard.
General Council Seat B:
Curtis Montgomery: Not present at the forum was Curtis Montgomery. This candidate who has received a firestorm of criticism recently after multiple women have come forward with allegations that Montgomery has sexually harassed them over social media and in person. Check out this Facebook page to see some of Montgomery’s offensive tirades. For this obvious reason, it is imperative to cast your vote for Craig Hosmer.
Craig Hosmer: When asked about the issue of poverty in Springfield, Hosmer replied in a way that seemed to indirectly target Fulnecky’s aggressive ideas of policing. Hosmer said that education is the primary way to combat both poverty and crime. It doesn’t make sense to spend $30,000 a year on a prisoner when the problem could have been avoided by educating Springfield’s children and ensuring that Springfield’s public schools are well-funded.
In addition to these names, there are candidates for each of the four zones. For this I encourage you to follow this link to find out which zone you are in. Do ten minutes of research to decide which candidate is right for your neighborhood! Also, I suggest you check out this sample ballot for the April 4th election.
Bottom line: get out there and vote local on April 4th! Your vote and your voice have value.