Charboneau challenges Trueblood in Crestwood race

Ward 2 candidates discuss their positions on city issues

Justin Charboneau

Justin Charboneau

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood faces a challenger in the April 7 election.

Justin Charboneau is looking to unseat Truebood, who was elected to the Ward 2 seat in 2012.

Trueblood previously served as an alderman from 1993 to 2006, when he was unable to seek re-election because of term limits.

• “Balancing the needs of stakeholders such as the diverse generations of Crestwood residents as well as the school district and local businesses will be my No. 1 priority to ensure that responsible redevelopment occurs at the site of the former Crestwood mall. The city needs leaders who can help breathe new life into the community, attracting commercial revenues without placing our school district at financial risk,” Charboneau said.

• “Crestwood must have leaders who know our history, our people and our needs, plus who have the knowledge and experience … to get things done. A vision for the remaking of our retail district should not be limited to the former Crestwood mall. The city’s entire retail district must be reviewed for the betterment of all things that make up the city of Crestwood,” Trueblood said.

Charboneau, 31, 731 Samoa Drive, 63126, is an account executive at Johnny Mac’s Sporting Goods. He and his wife, Diana, have a 9-month-old son.

Charboneau served as an alderman in the city of Gerald from 2009 to 2010 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He said he is seeking election to the Ward 2 seat in Crestwood because “there are many issues facing the Crestwood community that not only affect us presently, but that will have a substantial impact on the future of our city. It is important that Crestwood citizens have elected officials in place who fully understand the complexity of these issues and the impact of their decisions on families and businesses who have chosen to call Crestwood home.

“As a member of the generation of young families moving to Crestwood, I want to give voice to our newest residents while respecting the values of the first generation of residents who helped build our city.”

Trueblood, 66, 920 Lopina Blvd., 63126, is retired. He has two grown children.

Trueblood said he is seeking re-election because “this is the most important time in the history of Crestwood’s retail district since the 1960s. The actions taken in the next few years need to be done with a long term vision of what the future of Crestwood will be and its impact on all phases of the lives of Crestwood citizens. If the needs and requirements of the citizens of Crestwood are to be met, then its leadership must have the experience, knowledge and ability to commit the time needed to direct and make the choices that are best for the city.

“Having lived in Ward 2 of Crestwood since 1986 and with my 16 years of service to Crestwood, I know I can fulfill that need.”

Charboneau said, “Like any person holding elective office, I believe Mayor Roby wants what is best for the city of Crestwood. There is always room for improvement, and I am prepared to engage in productive dialogue on the board so that the different approaches to meeting shared goals can serve as starting points for conversation, rather than seeds for division.”

Trueblood said, “Yes.”

Charboneau said, “I did not support the Centrum proposal. The proposal was an empty proposal without any merit.”

Trueblood said, “No. I believed then, as I do now, that Centrum did not have the best plans nor were in the best position for the redevelopment as it related to the future of Crestwood. Since Centrum required tax assistance in order to fulfill their development, I believe they had to (be) held to a higher standard for the sake of Crestwood versus if they had funded the entire development with their own financing.”

Charboneau said, “Although I do see a place for the Beautification Committee, I do not understand why such a large budget was given to a new committee whose financial benefit to the city has not yet been established. I would prefer that the Beautification Committee raise its own funds, as the Veterans Committee does.”

Trueblood said, “Yes. I voted for the 2015 budget, which included $10,000 being set aside for use by the Beautification Committee if it was needed. My belief is that if Crestwood is (to) continue its regrowth and revitalization, it will not be a complete success if the regrowth of our retail is our sole focus …”

Charboneau said, “If elected, I would like to meet with Mr. Sime to understand some of the decisions he has made in the past year. For instance, I would like to understand the reasoning behind the city’s lack of communication, bordering on neglect, when it came to negotiations with the International Association of Fire Fighters. If the IAFF representative would not have contacted the Board of Aldermen, the city could have missed a crucial deadline that could have led to litigation …”

Trueblood said, “Yes.”

Charboneau said, “In my opinion, TIF has not been very effective in the long term, particularly for retail development. While the short-term injection of revenue from a project funded by TIF may appear attractive to a city hungry for revenue, its negative long-term effects on taxpayers and the local school district undermine any short-term gain. Elected officials and the community should rigorously examine any proposal requesting TIF, and use as a guide the likelihood that the project will provide sustainable growth for the community without hindering our school district.

“Other tax tools — TDD (transportation development district), CID (community improvement district), tax abatement — should also be measured by this same standard.”

Trueblood said, “My record is I have not supported or voted for TIF because the developers had not made their case that the TIF was in the best long-term interest of all parties involved.

“For me, it is up to the developer to prove the need for TIF.”

Charboneau said, “I would support a TIF only if it met the following criteria: The plan must be commercially viable, sustainable and must not put our taxpayers or school district at long-term financial risk.

“I would also want to wait until the current state legislation regarding TIFs is decided. This could change how TIFs are to be used in Missouri.”

Trueblood said, “I can support the use of TIF and other tax tools if the developer can make the case that their use is in the best long-term interest of all the parties concerned.”

Charboneau said, “I do support the recording of closed session meetings. Having a record of closed session discussions ensures that a verbatim record of the conversation is kept and that the justification for board decisions can be easily determined.”

Trueblood said, “Yes. I support the recording and release to the public once doing same does not negatively impact the legal position of the city.”

Charboneau said, “Currently, I do not see a need to place a tax-rate increase before the voters. Careful management of resources, zero tolerance for wasteful spending and smart business growth will help keep a tax increase off the ballot.”

Trueblood said, “No, not at this time.”

Charboneau said, “Because the fire protection districts are a matter of state law, the only avenue for mitigating these costs is to work with our state legislators.”

Trueblood said, “As it is a state law that requires the city to pay the Affton Fire Protection District, to affect any change, the city can only work with its elected representatives at the state level.”

Charboneau said, “I respect the rights of property owners, and the city’s use of eminent domain for redevelopment is an unfair burden on those rights. The better choice, and one that respects the rights of all property owners, is negotiation.”

Trueblood said, “Only if the case could be made that the long-term effect was positive on all parties involved.”

Charboneau said, “I believe the city struggles to ‘faithfully adhere’ to the provisions of the Sunshine Law. We as a city and a community need to improve at this. We must be an open government to ensure that tax payer dollars are not being wasted and to ensure that corruption does not become an issue in our government.:

Trueblood said, “We better have been!”

Charboneau said, “I was not a resident of Crestwood then. Therefore, I did not vote on this ballot issue.”

Trueblood said, “I voted against Prop 1 because the city did not make its case for an increase.”

Charboneau said, “We should look at all options, including cuts, to make sure the city maintains a balanced budget.”

Trueblood said, “I would argue that there was not a budget deficit. When the projected end-of-2015 balance for all funds is over $4 million, not a negative balance and therefore the city did not have to borrow money.”

Charboneau said, “I believe an overwhelming majority of the city’s employees are quality employees. However, I do think there are opportunities for working on how we recruit qualified candidates for the future and for improving employee retention. When a position becomes available it’s in the city’s best interest to find the best possible candidate. We also must work with our employees to make sure they are being treated with respect and enjoy working for the city of Crestwood. Quality employees equal quality work.”

Trueblood said, “Yes.”

Charboneau said, “I believe the Board of Aldermen should adopt a balanced budget each year, as is required by the city Charter. Reserve funds should only be used for emergency purposes or for long term financial goals.”

Trueblood, “Yes and yes.”

Charboneau said, “I do believe that meeting notices should be distributed to the media. The media is an outlet for many individuals to stay informed about their government.”

Trueblood said, “Yes.”

Charboneau said, “I have not met Ms. Stump and I do not believe she has performed poorly in her duties for the city. I do believe that many on the Board of Alderman are relying on her to find ‘answers’ for them to pursue issues that are not in the city’s best interest.”

Trueblood said, “Yes.”

Charboneau said, “The city should not be focused on a new Government Center. The city needs to stay focused on the redevelopment project as well as the services the city provides the citizens for Crestwood. Those should be the top priorities of the city.”

Trueblood said, “No, but the Board of Aldermen should fund its upkeep and repair.”

Charboneau said, “I am concerned about the rising costs of the city’s legal bills. I believe the city is wasting taxpayer dollars by choosing to check with the city attorney first for answers to administrative issues rather than performing its own research using city documents — code, charter, city policies — and using legal counsel as a last resort.”

Trueblood said, “No. Any increase in the city’s legal bills are in part due to working with the development of the former Crestwood Plaza. In light of our need for redevelopment, I would be concerned if the legal costs were not increasing.”