South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Michael Broughton challenged by Joshua Lang in Green Park Ward 1

Broughton has served as alderman since 2015
From left: Michael Broughton and Joshua Lang

Incumbent Green Park Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton is challenged by newcomer Joshua Lang in the upcoming municipal election.

Election day is Tuesday, April 2.

Broughton and his wife, Marilyn, have four adult children.

Broughton is one of the current Green Park Ward 1 aldermen and has held that seat since 2015.

Lang is a newcomer to public office.

He is married to Kara Marie Lang, and they have three children: Brecken, Rowynn and Augustus.

He works as a senior chemical tester at Ameren Missouri.

The candidates gave the following responses to The Call’s candidate questionnaire

Editor’s note: The following questions and answers appeared in the Feb. 29 print edition of The Call. They may have been edited and shortened for grammar, clarity and space. Keep reading for web-exclusive responses from the candidates.

Do you agree with the direction the city is moving?

Broughton: “This question is based on the perception of the reader, so no single answer is appropriate.”

Lang: “I do agree with the direction the city is moving. The city has been proactive in facing problems as they arise. The addition of new perspectives on the Board of Alderman can change the current environment to produce better cooperation and compromise. This change can further the positive changes and community-minded solutions we will need to face obstacles in the future.”

Are you satisfied with the services the city provides to residents, including snow removal and street maintenance?

Broughton: “Overall, yes, I am reasonably satisfied with city services. However, I would welcome an annual comprehensive review and discussion of all contracts regarding services being rendered to the city.”

Lang: Yes, I am. Snow removal, street maintenance, providing waste/recycling removal and social events are all positives for the City of Green Park. If elected, I would look forward to the expansion and continual improvement of these services.”

What would you propose to increase citizen involvement in city government?

Broughton: “No. 1, create a position of ‘citizen advocate’ to assist citizens with procuring the services provided by Green Park. Also, to assist elderly and/or disabled citizens with needed services and benefits provided by other government and private agencies. No. 2, post the minutes of all city meetings on the city’s webpage within one day after the meeting. No. 3, respond to, record and address all complaints from citizens and provide to the citizen a written record of actions taken. Establish a schedule of ‘listening sessions’ for citizens of each ward.”

Lang: “First and foremost, my candidacy is a direct result of my intention to increase citizen involvement in government. Simply existing as a commentating bystander does not result in change. I believe that government transparency, response to citizens’ needs, rights and encouraging engagement will increase citizen involvement. Encouraging engagement can include the use of social media, Green Park’s website … citizen polling, and advertising the board meeting agendas, which will all increase involvement.”

Keep reading for web-exclusive questions and answers from the candidates

Editor’s note: The following questions are as they were submitted to The Call by the candidates in their entirety. They have not been edited in any way, other than to ensure appropriate language and no direct attacks on opponents or other candidates. 

Reason for seeking office? 

Broughton: “Public service to the resident property owners of my community.”

Lang did not answer. 

What do you consider the single most important issue in this race and why?

Broughton: “Improving the quantity of services and the quality of those services delivered by government (Board of Aldermen) to the residents of Green Park. Why: Because resident homeowners are the backbone of the Green Park community.”

Lang: “My entry into this race is solely predicated upon bringing a new voice to the table. The stalemates and bickering at the Alderman board meetings is unproductive and contrary to the desire of Green Park residents. If elected, I intend to change that dynamic.”

Other issues you perceive in this race and your position on each?

Broughton: “Being an effective alderman requires more than attending monthly meetings.  Experience and knowledge pertaining to municipal government and a proven “track record” of service to the citizens of Green Park, are major issues. Having been an alderman in Ward One since 2015, I have been responsible for the creation and implementation of many programs that benefit our citizens. Examples: 1. Installation of solar street lights at previously dark intersections; 2. Home improvement and first-time home buyer grants. 3. Advocated for paying-off the loan on the city hall building, saving the city approximately five-hundred-thousand ($500,000.00) dollars in interest payments; 4. Creation of a city ordinance setting forth the minimal distance between Residential Medical Facilities in our single-family residential zones.  And more. So, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to continue my service to the citizens of both Green Park and Ward One.”

Lang did not answer. 

What is your position on the use of Tax-Increment Financing and other tax incentives?

Broughton: “The City of Green Park will not in the conceivable future have to rely on these tax giveaways to attract business to the city.  So, I am not in favor of such incentives to businesses.”

Lang: “I believe TIF and other tax incentives should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approved or disapproved on the merits of the project. I believe these finance tools should only be implemented when the projects benefit the entire community.”

Do you agree with the decision not to install speed bumps in the Ronnie Hills subdivision? Should more be done to reduce speeding in residential areas of the city?

Broughton: “The traffic situation in Ronnie Hills has been discussed many times by the board of aldermen. Good suggestions have been countered by unintended consequences that offset the desirability of the suggested solutions.  Speed bumps and other solutions slow traffic but also slow response time by emergency responders; police, fire and medical.  They too hamper snow removal, street maintenance and create liability on the city. Speeding is a problem throughout the city.  Drivers failing to obey stop signs is also a city-wide problem. Several police studies over the last few years have concluded that these speeding and stop sign offenders are predominately city residents. So, the solution is in the hands of residents.  Slow down, obey the stop signs.”

Lang: “As an Antigo Drive resident and father of three, I understand all too well the need to reduce speeding on Green Park streets. As a safety professional, I, also, understand the precious initial moments first responders need during a medical emergency. For this reason, I side with the testimony of the Fire Department personnel and agree with not installing speed bumps at this time. If elected, I would collaborate with First Responders and find a solution to protect residents on our streets.”

How much of a fund balance should the city keep in its reserves each year? Please elaborate.

Broughton: “At a Board meeting several months ago, I questioned the city administrator as to the security status (collateralization) of city investments, predominantly CDs at several banks.  He informed the Board that several million dollars of city funds were not collateralized and thus not secured. The Board of Aldermen is currently engaged in transferring all city funds to the Missouri Securities Investment Program (MOSIP).  Funds therein are secure and accessible.  Also, a variety of investment vehicles with varying interest returns are available through MOSIP.  When complete, Green Park will join hundreds of Missouri municipalities, school districts, counties, and fire districts, et al. that have their funds with MOSIP.”

Lang: “Not being fully aware of Green Parks’ financial obligations, I will not get into specific numbers. However, I do believe the City of Green Park should maintain a fund balance proportionate to the city’s income, debt responsibilities, and project requirements for the citizens of Green Park.”

In your opinion, have city officials and the Board of Alderman faithfully adhered to the positions of the Sunshine Law? What would you do to ensure compliance with the law?

Broughton: “Adhering to the provisions of the Sunshine Law is an operational responsibility of the designated Custodian of Documents.  In Green Park, that would be the City Administrator/City Clerk.  By City Code, the mayor is responsible for supervision of city employees, so it would be his/her responsibility to monitor compliance with Sunshine requests.  I am not aware of any failures to comply with this law.”

Lang: “First and foremost, I believe in government transparency. Currently, I am unaware of any non-compliance with the Sunshine Law by the City of Green Park. If I were confronted with any non-compliance, I would utilize any instruments at my disposal to rectify the situation. I believe in an accurately informed citizenry.”

Should the city be expanded through the annexation of nearby areas of unincorporated St. Louis County?

Broughton: “Annexation is progress, a good move if it is done with thoughtful preparation and the desire of the residents of the area to be annexed are in favor of it.  Growth, when thoughtful, well-planned, and timely, provides stability to a city.  Annex only when circumstances are favorable and a plan is in place.”

Lang: “The annexation of neighboring areas by the City of Green Park should be decided by the residents of those unincorporated communities. They have a right to self-determination.”

Should the city impose an administrative fee on businesses or require businesses to obtain a license?

Broughton: “I see no reason for fees/licensing for the foreseeable future.” 

Lang: “I do believe the city has a right to impose fees or require a license of businesses operating in Green Park. The goal of these fees is not to place undue burden on business operations, but to cover the costs Green Park will endure to ensure business operations are adhering to the standards required by the residents of Green Park.”

Are you pleased with the city’s comprehensive plan? Are changes needed? If so, what would you propose?

Broughton: “During my tenure as alderman, the city’s Comprehensive Plan has had little relevance to proposed legislation brought before the Board of Aldermen.  I have suggested that the plan be reviewed and discussed by city officials every five years, and that appropriate changes be made when necessary.”

Lang: “I am pleased with the current generality of the document. I recognize the comprehensive plan is a ‘living document’ and designed to change as the needs of Green Park’s citizenry change. I believe this is reinforced by annual review of this document and look forward to taking part in that process. The most important aspect of the comprehensive plan is the “control of the community’s ‘destiny’ and physical development.” Any changes to the comprehensive plan would need to reflect that this document is authorized by the residents of Green Park to ensure ‘the character of their community and their own quality of life.’” 

Do you believe the Board of Aldermen and city officials are doing enough to ensure rental properties in Green Park comply with city code?

Broughton: “There are many residential rental properties in the city and changing of occupants is an on-going process.  The city’s code enforcement with respect to occupancy permits often does not keep up with a change of occupants.  Identifying rental homes and requiring systematic annual inspections (like many other cities do) would be a step in the right direction.”

Lang:  “Without knowing all the tools available to the board, nor the hinderances the Board faces with rental compliance issues, I hesitate to say they are not ‘doing enough.’ However, I have witnessed some rental properties lack compliance with codes and recognize the problem. The failure of rental properties adhering to city code will only get worse in the future if not addressed. Searching for a solution to this emerging problem should be a priority of the board to guarantee the ‘character of their community.’” 

Are you satisfied with the city’s code enforcement? Why or why not?

Broughton: “Code enforcement is one of a city’s services that is paramount to maintaining the integrity of a city’s housing stock.  Green Park is no exception to this truth.  So, providing adequate code enforcement service is a ‘good thing’ if you desire to attract would-be homeowners and maintain the integrity of the city’s housing stock.  To date, Green Park’s code enforcement has been spotty.  The city needs a fulltime code enforcement person and an enforcement program suited to the needs of resident homeowners.”

Lang: “No, but I am a realist. I have seen properties in violation of code but realize the legal process to enforce code can be burdensome and operate on a lengthy timeline. The board should pursue all available avenues to expedite code enforcement. Code enforcement is a concern of mine and my immediate neighbors.”

Do you support the Board of Alderman’s decision to offer free trash pickup and recycling services to citizens? Should renters be charged for these free services?

Broughton: “Yes, I support these city-provided services to resident homeowners.”  

Lang: “Yes, I support the decision to offer free trash pickup and recycling services and believe the community is better for it. Ultimately, the cost of these services is reflected in our taxes. Taxes are paid by the owners of rental properties and assuredly those tax obligations are passed on in the cost of the rental to residents. The logistics of charging renters for trash pickup and recycling would place an undue burden on the City of Green Park for services that are already being paid with tax revenue.”

What kind of growth, if any, do you envision for the city?

Broughton: “There is little room for either residential or commercial growth in the city.  But I do support addition of new businesses and residential construction.” 

Lang: “The fact that Green Park is ‘built-out’ is a limiting factor when discussing growth. However, emphasis can be placed on increasing occupancy and reducing vacancies in our commercial zones.”

What is your vision for the city of Green Park?

Broughton: “City government must be forthright with city records, including budget and expense records, and more accountable to citizens in general.  Also, maintaining residential viability by addressing the needs of resident homeowners, and encouraging owner occupied single-family homes.  The implementation of my suggestion for a First-Time Home Buyer’s Grant, which assists new home buyers with down-payment, is a good example of Green Park’s program to maintain residential viability.”    

Lang did not answer. 

What is your greatest accomplishment on behalf of the city?

Broughton: “I created the home improvement grant that provides up to $5,000.00 to resident homeowners for repairs or improvements to their home.  And the first-time home buyer grant.  This is ‘free money’ to homeowners who continue to reside in their home for the five-year period after receiving the grant.  To date, the city has provided more than $100,000.00 to resident homeowners for repairs and, or, improvements, which make Green Park a better place to live.”

Lang: “Admittedly, I lack great accomplishments on behalf of the city of Green Park. However, I am a concerned citizen looking to increase my involvement in local government. I hope this endeavor will lead to many great accomplishments to the benefit of my fellow residents.”

Do you support a city-county merger?

Broughton: “I do not support St. Louis County merging governments with the City of St. Louis.”

Lang: “The general idea of a city-county merger is interesting due to the efficiencies and elimination of redundancies that would occur for social services. However, those same efficiencies could lead to an unmanageably large government lacking proper oversight. This ‘merger’ or ‘divorce’ has been debated for nearly 150 years. I am in favor of collaboration between local governments to make the lives of this region’s citizens more peaceful, prosperous, and respectful of everyone. If a plan emerges that can accomplish those goals, I will be in favor of it.”

Should the city do more to regulate medical residential businesses in city limits?

Broughton: “Further regulation of these facilities would be very difficult due to state and federal considerations. I worked many months to foster the creation of Green Park’s existing regulation of residential medical facilities. The ordinance specifies minimal distance between such facilities, thus limits the number that can be established in the city.”

Lang: “I believe the city of Green Park should rely on county, state, and federal regulations on medical businesses. Complaints or observations contrary to those regulations should be reported to the proper authorities.”

Do you support the city’s agreement with the St. Louis County Police Department, and would you change it in any way?

Broughton: “Police service from St. Louis County has been adequate. The cost of that service in 2024 is about $350,000.00. I anticipate that the Board of Aldermen will make no changes to the police contract.”

Lang: “I believe that contracting police services with the St. Louis County Police Department is the right thing to do. The number of officers, hours of patrol, cost of the plan, and other details are up for debate. Increasing the involvement of Green Park residents in deciding those details would be a priority for me.”

What do you believe should be the top priorities of the next city administrator?

Broughton: “The next city administrator’s top priority will be comprehensive accountability directly to citizens and the Board of Aldermen. And citizen access to all city records and expenses.”

Lang: “The top priorities of any government official should always be carrying out the will of the people who put them into office.”

Do you believe the city should provide notices to the media of upcoming meetings? Should city meetings be recorded?

Broughton: “It would benefit the city to compile a list of media and others who desire to be notified of city meetings. The city could then do an email ‘blast’ to give notice to those listed, and put additional notice on the city’s webpage. I am not opposed to recording city meetings.”

Lang: “I believe that notices of upcoming meetings should be better advertised to the residents of Green Park to encourage more involvement. If that requires media coverage to achieve that goal, so be it. I am in favor of the board meetings being a respectful dialogue where new and innovative ideas can be vigorously debated and fleshed out. Recording meetings can sometimes hinder that process.”

Does the city need to do more to ensure the grants and liens through the Neighborhood Enhancement Program are fulfilled properly?

Broughton: “While doing a review of home improvement grants, I discovered that the city administrator failed to provide the necessary documents to St. Louis County so that liens could be placed on the residences of homeowners who received home improvement grant money.  The lien on property assures repayment of the grant in the event the homeowner moves from the residence within five-years. More than $70,000.00 of city funds was put ‘at risk’ due to the city administrator’s failure to adhere to the lien provisions of City Ordinance.  So, to assure adherence to city ordinance/city code, the Board of Aldermen should be informed at monthly meetings of all new grant applications and issuances, and all necessary legal documents should be provided to the city attorney for filing with the County.”

Lang: “I do believe the grants and liens of the Neighborhood Enhancement Program should be fulfilled properly. This program is designed to help Green Park residents and should have a mechanism put in place to prevent abuse as well as provide grace for those in need. Doing more to help Green Park residents who are in need should be a guiding principle.”

Are you satisfied with the city’s response to crime? Is there more you would like to see done?

Broughton: “Green Park is blessed with a very low rate of criminal activity.  What I would like to have implemented to maintain that low rate is a dedicated night patrol of residential neighborhoods by a uniformed police officer in a marked police vehicle.  Having this service between the hours of ten p.m. & six a.m. would greatly enhance the security of residents, visitors, homes and vehicles.”

Lang: “I believe the city has been proactive in trying to find solutions to the issue of crime. Entering the St. Louis County Police contract, the open debate of the number of police officers, patrol times, etc. are all topics to be discussed. The impact of any Green Park actions on crime must be viewed in relation to greater county, state, and federal crime trends, and actions. Green Park needs to be in collaboration with country and state officials debating solutions to the root causes, prevention of, and punishment of crime.”