Fagan should be elected Crestwood’s next mayor

Despite the city of Crestwood’s well-documented financial woes, we believe a majority of the Board of Aldermen and City Administrator Don Greer are on the way to resolving those problems.

But to keep the city on the right track and take advantage of the positive momentum that currently exists, we believe city voters should place Ward 4 Alderman Tom Fagan in the mayoral seat in next week’s election.

Mr. Fagan, who has served on the Board of Aldermen since 1993, is the candidate who is best qualified to serve the citizens of Crestwood as mayor and unite the board in resolving the city’s fiscal crisis.

Three other candidates are seeking to become Crestwood’s next mayor in the Tuesday, Aug. 3, election — veteran Ward 1 Alderman Richard LaBore, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2002; Peter John Mead, who is making his first bid for elective office; and Roy Robinson, who served as an alderman from 1988 to 1992 and who twice ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Pat Killoren. In his last bid for a Ward 3 aldermanic seat in 1996, Mr. Robinson was defeated by Pat Duwe, who now represents Ward 4 on the board.

The special election is being conducted to fill the remainder of former Crestwood Mayor Jim Robertson’s term. Mr. Robertson announced his resignation Jan. 27. Whoever next week is elected will serve until next April, when Mr. Robertson’s term would have ended. An election for mayor then will take place in April and whoever is elected will serve a three-year term.

In somewhat of a departure from the past practice, members of the Board of Aldermen are openly and actively supporting mayoral candidates in this election.

Mr. Fagan enjoys the support of four other aldermen — Acting Mayor Richard Breeding of Ward 1, Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, Ward 2 Alderman Jim Kelleher and Mrs. Duwe — while Mr. Robinson is being supported by Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox and Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel.

We believe the show of aldermanic support is extremely significant because the next mayor will have to unite the Board of Aldermen to move the city forward. We don’t believe Mr. Robinson will be able to accomplish this.

During a candidate forum last week, Mr. Robinson made several comments about working to retain existing city businesses and attracting new businesses. But the reality of it is that Crestwood residents should be very concerned about some of those comments.

“I do not believe in TIFs because it’s not necessary,” Mr. Robinson said at the July 20 forum.

As regular readers are aware, this newspaper is no big supporter of tax-increment financing, but based on Mr. Robinson’s comment, apparently the much-needed redevelopment of the Watson Plaza shopping center would not be going forward if it were up to him.

While the developer, G.J. Grewe Inc., is seeking $2 million in TIF assistance, the developer essentially is taking all the risk as the TIF plan calls for passing through to all taxing districts all payments in lieu of taxes, called PILOTs.

That means that all taxing districts immediately will receive the benefit of the redevelopment and not have to wait until any TIF obligations are retired — something that particularly pleased Lindbergh School District officials.

To dismiss the use of TIF when surrounding cities are successfully using it to their advantage to attract businesses is shortsighted and demonstrates a profound lack of vision.

While we don’t doubt Mr. Robinson’s desire to serve, we question why he has gone to such great lengths to disassociate himself from the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance as many of his views appear to be remarkably similar to that organization.

Certainly it’s just a coincidence that the same “smart-growth” circle that supported Mr. Miguel in his election bid this past April also seem to be supporting Mr. Robinson.

Unfortunately, the members of that circle are better at finding problems than offering solutions. That’s why we believe the citizens of Crestwood should elect Tom Fagan mayor. Certainly it’s no secret that we haven’t always agreed with Mr. Fagan on every issue — and still don’t — but we believe that he is the best candidate for Crestwood mayor.

During last week’s forum, he clearly demonstrated that he has the best grasp of the issues that currently are facing the city of Crestwood and its citizens. He also offered a clear vision of where he would like to take the city and was quite candid that there is no short-term solution to the city’s financial woes.

It’s easy to see why Mr. Fagan is receiving the support of four other aldermen. In this critical election, we believe Mr. Fagan is the leader Crestwood needs to overcome the challenges it is facing.