May 12, 2005

Eight Candidates Seeking Vacant Alderman Position

Eight is Enough - that was the name of the popular television program back in the 1980’s. But for the Memphis City Council eight was too many. The board of aldermen tabled a decision on appointing a replacement for the East Ward alderman position after eight different candidates announced their interest in the position at the May 5th meeting of the City Council.

After appointing East Ward Alderman Mike Stone as Mayor April 7th that position has been vacant and will remain unfilled for at least a few more days as the city council considers the eight candidates.

Under Missouri statutes, a vacant municipal office is filled by appointment until the next regular election. In this instance, the mayor will make the appointment subject to council approval. According to the city officials there are no provisions for a special election to fill the vacancy.

Three past candidates met with the council Thursday night to seek the job while five newcomers to city government also voiced interest in the job. James Parker, Ed Hogarth and William Reckenberg have all run for the east ward alderman job in the past. Richard Jackson, Mark Barrett, Brian Brush, Jay Brush and Roger Gosney also threw their names into the hat.

Parker, who ran against Alderman Ron Gardner in 2003, told the council he would like to be a part of the important decisions facing the city today.

“I’m here to help,” Parker said. “I don’t have any hidden agenda, I just want to help the city.”

Hogarth, who ran two unsuccessful campaigns for the post, echoed Parker’s words. He pointed out his past experience with the ambulance and police department and noted he wished to continue to serve the community. He added that keeping young people in the community is important to him, as he said too many of the town’s youth are moving away.

Another former opponent of Stone’s, Reckenberg, highlighted his 16 years of military service and his work as a hunter safety educator as experience that would make him a good alderman.

Jackson, a lab technician at Scotland County Memorial Hospital, indicated he sought the position in order to help keep Memphis moving forward. He stated the city has made many improvements since he moved here, and he would like to help continue the process.

Brian Brush, like Reckenberg, is a 16-year veteran of the military. He is a small business owner in the community.

Barrett, the former owner and operator of Java Jitters, stated he wanted to help clean up the city and make it more attractive. Barrett pointed to his experience as a business owner as well as his active role in the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce as tools he could draw upon to help with economic growth for the city, another of his top priorities.

Jay Brush told the council he has called Memphis home since 1975. “I want to make a positive change, not for myself, but for all the people that live here.”

Gosney, a retired Missouri State Highway Patrolman, was the lone candidate not in attendance at the meeting. He had previously informed the council of his interest in the position but he was out of town on a family matter.

Because there were eight interested parties, the council decided to table the issue, to allow the aldermen to meet with each prospective new board member to allow an informed decision to be made.

Mayor Stone indicated his desire to resolve the situation that night at the meeting.

“We have a lot of business on the table and this council needs to fill the seat to vote on these issues,” Stone said. “Besides, these people showed up here tonight expecting a decision.”

Alderman Lucas Remley favored tabling the issue, noting a hasty decision would be of no benefit to anyone.

“If we pick one of these people tonight, based on the two or three minutes they’ve talked with us, there will be seven other people leaving the meeting wondering why we chose who we did,” he said. “I don’t believe a hasty decision is in the best interest of the people. This is an important job and I’d like to be prepared before I cast my vote.”

The rest of the council concurred, as did the bulk of the candidates who also agreed they would prefer an opportunity to talk with each alderman more in depth to allow the council to make the best choice.

A special meeting was scheduled for Monday, May 16th at 5:30 p.m. The appointment will be considered at that time.

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