EDITORIAL: Newspaper makes endorsements for contested election races

Write-in candidate challenges Nolan in Sunset Hills mayoral race

By Mike Anthony

Voters will make some critical choices next Tuesday when they go to the polls to elect members of the Lindbergh and Mehlville boards of education.

Sunset Hills voters also will have a choice, as Mayor Bill Nolan and two aldermen are being challenged by write-in candidates, and a former alderman is challenging Alderman Rich Gau in Ward 1.

Four seats — three three-year seats and one two-year seat — are up for election in Lindbergh.

Five candidates — Cori Akins, board Vice President Don Bee, board member Vicki Lorenz Englund, Al Faulstich and board President Kathleen Kienstra — are seeking three three-year seats on the board.

Three candidates — Christopher Clegg, Daniel Sampson and Gary Ujka — are seeking the two-year seat on the board.

For the three three-year seats, we believe voters have an easy decision since Bee, Englund and Kienstra have a proven track record of excellent service to students and the community and have exercised sound fiscal stewardship during their time on the board. We urge voters to re-elect the three.

For the two-year seat, we believe voters have a more difficult decision, as both Ujka and Sampson would make excellent board members. But given Ujka’s longtime experience as an educator, we believe he should be elected to the board next Tuesday.

With Superintendent Eric Knost’s selection as the new superintendent of the Rockwood School District, effective July 1, what the Mehlville Board of Education needs is experienced board members.

Five candidates — current board Secretary Rich Franz, former board member Venki Palamand and newcomers Randy L. Howard, Jean Pretto and Samantha Stormer — are seeking three seats. All five should be applauded for their desire to serve the community.

This newspaper endorsed Palamand last year when he ran unsuccesfully for a third term, writing, “We’d be hard-pressed to think of a bigger advocate for students and teachers than Palamand.”

Ironically, we also noted last year that he did not receive the endorsement of the Mehlville National Education Association, or MNEA. What a difference a year makes, as the fickle MNEA has endorsed Palamand this year. We believe Palamand has been unwavering in his commitment to students, teachers and the district, and once again, the Call endorses Palamand.

While Franz has been a lightning rod for criticism — some of it deserved and some of it inaccurate, in our opinion — because of his outspoken views, we believe voters should examine his record during his three years on the board. Franz has voted for nearly every major forward-motion initiative — tuition-free, full-day kindergarten, the district’s first-ever auditorium, the new tennis-court complex and increased class offerings, to name a few — yet some use broad brushstrokes in an attempt to paint him as anti-public education.

Hardly. Unlike some current board members who are ready to rubber stamp whatever the administration or teachers desire, Franz has challenged the administration’s recommendations, on occasion. We believe Franz’s service merits him a second term and urge voters to re-elect him.

The three remaining candidates have individual strengths and weaknesses and each would serve the district well, but we believe Stormer with her financial acumen is the best qualified and should be elected.

A business development manager for the largest non-emergency medical transportation company in the state, Stormer’s job responsibilities include writing requests for proposals for multi-million-dollar accounts on a daily basis.

In Sunset Hills, write-in candidate Mark Furrer is challenging Mayor Bill Nolan.

Furrer is opposed to a QuikTrip proposed for the east commuter lot at Kennerly and Weber Hill roads, owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation. Furrer is earnest and articulate, but we believe Nolan’s experience as an alderman and his two terms as mayor make him the best-qualified candidate for the job.

In Ward 1, Gau is being challenged by former Ward 1 Alderman Douglas McGuire.

While either candidate would serve the city well, we believe Gau’s exceptional service the past two years merits him a second term.

In addition, write-in candidates Donald Placke Jr. and Donna Ernst are challenging Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich and Ward 4 Art Havener, respectively. Given their track records, the Call endorses Musich and Havener for re-election.