Elected officials take office in south county

By Gloria Lloyd
News Editor

As of last week, all the new officials set to take office after the April 3 election have been sworn in.

New on the job are Mehlville Board of Education members Tori Behlke and Lisa Messmer, along with new Sunset Hills Aldermen Casey Wong of Ward 2 and Ann McMunn of Ward 1. In Crestwood, new Aldermen Mimi Duncan of Ward 1, who previously served on the board, and new Ward 4 Alderman Ismaine Ayouaz took office.

Some veterans were sworn in again, including newly re-elected Lindbergh Board of Education members Karen Schuster and Mike Shamia.

The new Sunset Hills and Crestwood aldermen join returning aldermen including Sunset Hills Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger and Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price, along with Mayor Pat Fribis, who is now on her second term.

In Crestwood, Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau was sworn in for a second term along with Ward 3 Alderman Grant Mabie, who defeated former Alderman Bill Boston in one of the highest victory margins in recent Crestwood history.

In Mehlville, departing board members Jamey Murphy and Lisa Dorsey both said they believe the school district is poised to continue on a path of strategy and innovation that was just getting underway as they took office three years ago.

In Sunset Hills, departing Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich was the only outgoing official honored since Ward 1 Alderman Richard Gau was away on a business trip.

He will appear at the next meeting to accept his resolution, Fribis said.

Crestwood Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach and Ward 4 Alderman Timothy Anderson are leaving the board after nine years and three years, respectively.

City Administrator Kris Simpson applauded the officials’ “steady and professional guidance,” which has helped him in his first two years as city administrator.

“I wish you all the best in your civilian life,” Simpson said.

Wallach has to leave the board due to the city’s term limits, which limit aldermen to serving three terms in a row at a time. Some aldermen have made a comeback after being term-limited out, including Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel.

Wallach seemed to indicate that would not be the case this time, however.

“Alderman Wallach and I go back many years,” Miguel said. “All you’ve got to do is wait three years.”

But Wallach shook his head.

“I’m sure you will continue to be involved in the city because you can’t get enough,” Ward 4 Alderman Tony Kennedy told Wallach.

Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter hugged her “next-door neighbor” Wallach, who she’s sat next to on the dais for five years.

“I will miss you both and the camaraderie and insights you provided,” Charboneau said.

Wallach was a “true friend,” Roby said, hugging the alderman: “loyal, very dedicated and very honest.”

Besides the “elephant in the room” of Crestwood mall (see article on Page 1A and 5A), Wallach said there were a few other disappointments in his tenure since 2009 and his service to the city since 2005.

Those include the construction of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, which was built not conforming to city codes. But that wasn’t discovered until the building’s construction was nearly complete.

“I look at that and I’m not going to say anything else, I’m just disappointed,” Wallach said.

The longtime alderman also mentioned an issue that he spoke passionately about in one of his last meetings, the high fees to obtain a fence variance.

“We are now charging our residents $500 for a fence variance    that’s horrendous,” Wallach said at the March 27 meeting. “That’s excessive.”

If Wallach had it to do over again, he would have focused on the issue long ago, he said.

But the longtime alderman also said he saw many successes in his tenure.

He helped champion the “Discover Crestwood” program in 2010 and 2011 that encouraged shoppers to patronize city businesses. He pushed for curbs and gutters to be fixed as part of the street repair program to keep the city’s infrastructure thriving, he said. He voted for the new Public Works Building, built entirely with money from the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, or MSD. The city created its first-ever comprehensive plan, and aldermen reaffirmed the importance of the city’s Police and Fire departments.

His advice to his former colleagues was simple: “Simply just vote with your conscience.

You can’t please everyone — just basically please 50 percent plus one.”

And he’s hopeful they’ll lead the city in the right direction.

“Thank God for the past 13 years of my city’s involvement, and I wish for the mayor and board success for Crestwood’s comeback,” he said. “I want to wish everyone the best. Crestwood is a great place to live, work and play, and as President Trump would say: Let’s make Crestwood great again.”

Anderson noted that he’d run for alderman after losing the first time around by seven votes to former Alderman Mike Tsichlis, now Lindbergh Board of Education treasurer.

In three short years, he weighed in on important issues including the mall redevelopment and hiring Simpson.

“I just hope that I contributed some small part to the betterment of Crestwood,” Anderson said.

Musich thanks everyone; Gau to be honored at a later date

Fribis read a resolution honoring Musich, a retired physican who joined the board in 2012 and served as president for one year, from 2015 to 2016.

But he declined to make an extensive statement, saying, “I’ve said enough over the past six years.”

He took the time to thank the four department heads: City Administrator Eric Sterman, Police Chief Stephen Dodge, Public Works Director Bryson Baker and Parks Director Gerald Brown.

“Thank you very much, it’s been my honor and privilege,” Musich said. “Good luck to everybody in the future, good luck to everybody incoming, congratulations Casey, congratulations Ann. I’d just like to say thank you to all the department heads, Eric, Chief Dodge, Bryson, I can’t forget you, and Gerald.

“I’d like to thank my wife and family. It’s been my honor and privilege to serve Sunset Hills, and God bless everybody.”

After a pause he added with a smile, “And the media.”

Since Gau was out of town, he will be honored at the board’s May meeting.

But he left the city a parting gift ahead of time, Fribis said. He walked into the Police Department and donated $5,000 to fund a police community-relations program