Berry, Nieder seeking Crestwood Ward 4 seat

Charles Berry

Charles Berry

By MIKE ANTHONY

Two candidates are vying for the Ward 4 Crestwood Board of Aldermen seat in the April 4 election.

Charles Berry and Steve Nieder are seeking the seat held by Alderman Joe O’Keefe, who did not file for re-election. The seat carries a three-year term.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the candidates responded:

• “My first priority is to guarantee the preservation and continuing outstanding performance of our public safety departments. The issue of public safety is far and away what I believe to be the most critical issue for the continued growth and improvement of our city. It affects every aspect of every citizen’s life. It brings with it financial implications, insurance implications, quality-of-life implications, all of which have a direct impact on every citizen in the city of Crestwood,” Berry stated.

• “Stop the bleeding. Until the late ’90s, Crestwood had $2.5 million cash reserves. Now the city has to pledge City Hall to borrow $3 million to pay expenses and meet payroll. I will use my vote on the Board of Aldermen to ensure Crestwood has balanced budgets every year,” Nieder stated.

Berry, 57, 9522 Banyon Tree Court, is an attorney with the law firm of Berry and Leibrecht. He is married to JoAnne Berry.

Berry, who has never held elective office, said he is seeking the Ward 4 aldermanic seat because “I am deeply aware of the commitment of time, energy and resources that is necessary to properly represent your neighbors. However, I was raised in a very service-oriented family, a family that be-lieved deeply in the concept of duty, honor and country. Crestwood is currently undergoing a period in its history which will determine whether it is to remain a truly great and wonderful city or simply fall by the wayside and endure the deterioration that has affected so many of our nation’s cities. I want to be part of the governmental organization and administration, which will move this city forward to new heights.”

Nieder, 50, 9131 Cherry Brook Lane, is an industrial automation business development manager with HTE. Nieder and his wife, Jeannette, have one child.

Nieder, who serves on the city’s Economic Development Commission, said he is seeking the Ward 4 aldermanic seat to “restore the city to financial stability.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing — TIF?

Berry said, “The use of TIF is distinctly situational. If a community is competing with its neighbors for a development which will enhance the city and the services it can provide, and the only way to attract this entity is through a TIF, then it is something that should be very seriously considered.”

Nieder said, “This economic development tool has been severely abused, and legislators in Jefferson City are redefining the rules. It proves difficult to have any opinion about the TIF until the legislators in Jefferson City have written the new rules.”

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Crestwood Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility? Have you ever attended a meeting of this organization?

Berry said, “No.”

Nieder said, “Yes, I was a member of the CCFR and (am) proud of the work the group accomplished.”

The Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood for years has been the city’s economic engine. What should be done to revitalize the mall?

Berry said, “There are several things that need to be addressed regarding Crestwood mall, not the least of which is to diversify what it offers. This can be done by carefully listening to those consultants working with Westfield who are presently actively involved in its redevelopment. Crestwood mall needs to begin to think outside the box in order to offer the citizens within the area and beyond something different and something that cannot be obtained at other locations.”

Nieder said, “The Westfield Shoppingtown is a business who is responding to the dynamic market changes occurring and has a plan to maximize its participation in the changes. Because of competition, Westfield cannot make the plans public, but Crestwood city government must be prepared to react with solutions that create a win for Crestwood and a win for Westfield.”

Should the charter amendments proposed by the Charter Review Commission be placed before the voters?

Berry said, “I have always agreed that any amendments dealing with the charter should be voted on by the people.”

Nieder did not respond to the question.

Do you support Proposition S, the 20-cent tax-rate increase placed on the April 4 ballot by the Board of Aldermen?

Berry said, “I support Prop S 100 percent. This is merely return to the tax rate of 1985. Further, it is only for seven years. Finally, all the money will specifically be used to erase the debt and to establish a fund which will eliminate the necessity for a line of credit. Nothing could be more fiscally sound for the city.”

Nieder said, “Yes, I support Proposition S.”

Do you agree with the direction the city is moving under Mayor Roy Robinson?

Berry said, “I am extremely pleased with the progress the Honorable Roy Robinson has made in his brief tenure as the mayor of the city of Crestwood. It is clear that the city is moving forward, and I believe that is in no small part due to Mr. Robinson’s leadership.”

Nieder said, “Yes.”

What, if anything, will you propose to maintain the vitality of the Watson Road commercial corridor?

Berry said, “It is my understanding that the Watson Road corridor is undergoing a tremendous facelift. I will carefully consider all of those proposals in such a way as to provide for the continued improvement of that commercial district.”

Nieder said, “This is a marketing issue for the economic development specialist, Ellen Dailey.”