Five outgoing aldermen recognized by new Crestwood board

By BURKE WASSON

As Crestwood voters on April 7 elected five newcomers to the Board of Aldermen, the city’s outgoing aldermen last week said goodbye to elective office.

With new aldermen sworn in last week, the board unanimously voted to recognize all five outgoing alderman — Carol “C.J.” Mc-Gee of Ward 1, Richard Bland of Ward 1, Mike Kelsch of Ward 2, Gregg Roby of Ward 3 and Steve Nieder of Ward 4.

Mimi Duncan, who ran unopposed for an unexpired one-year term, fills McGee’s seat.

“I’m embarking on a new adventure, but I just want to say that I do understand that it is a big responsibility and I will work very hard to be a steward for the citizens of Crestwood,” Duncan said.

McGee, who did not file for election, was appointed last year after her husband, former Ward 1 Alderman Mac Mc-Gee, passed away.

“Thank you for asking me to take my husband’s place,” McGee said. “It’s been a pleasure and a very learning ex-perience for me. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Bland’s seat is filled by Darryl Wallach, who ran unopposed for a three-year term.

“I know we’ve gone a long way,” Wallach said. “I think we need to put the past behind us and just move forward. I think the city has a lot of things looking forward.”

Bland previously won election over Wallach in 2006, but did not file for re-election in 2009.

“I can’t say I always made the right decisions,” he said. “I tried. And one thing I will say is I always had the best interests of the citizens of Crestwood and, in particular, my ward in mind. I guess somewhere along the way I think I did something right because I think I’ve made some new friends during these last three years. But I’ve also lost some old friends. And that kind of comes with politics and making decisions that sometimes aren’t popular.

“… Tonight is a wonderful example of a community coming together, but not in a conventional way. You’ve got the folks that are running the (Crestwood Court) mall coming in here and they’re talking about art space. Now, is that the retail giant we hoped for the long term? No, it’s not. But it was some people coming together thinking outside the box. And by doing that, we’ve got something that’s really unique that people are taking a big interest in.

“You’ve got a citizen (Karen Rainey) here in this city who decided to think outside the box a bit and, in doing so, has just got done hosting the second annual (Home Expo) and to a wonderful success. And I guess that would be my challenge. Continue to think outside the box. We can dwell on the things that are bad, and they’re clearly evident and you all certainly have challenges ahead of you. The challenges I would have for the citizens of this city would be to continue to come out like Mr. (Jerome) Friedeck does and voice your concerns and voice the complaints and voice the good, too. But come out and be involved.”

In Ward 2, Jeff Schlink won election over two opponents for an unexpired one-year term. Schlink received 116 votes, or 38.28 percent, of three candidates.

“I was overwhelmed when I was fortunate to be elected at the calls I got from the city congratulating me and offering assistance,” Schlink said. “So the thanks that you (outgoing aldermen) gave to the city, I can certainly say that they haven’t skipped a beat. And I think that I look forward to working with them and I appreciate your help in getting us through this ongoing process.”

Kelsch, who was appointed last year to that position after former Ward 2 Alderman Steve Knarr resigned, received 103 votes, or 33.99 percent. Jeff Baker received 82 votes, or 27.06 percent.

“Have an open mind and look at the issues from an ob-jective perspective to work together,” Kelsch said. “Work hard to represent the citizens that have elected you and put you in this position and not necessarily the citizens that scream the loudest … There’s really not need for argument.

“There’s really no need to fall to a less than professional level … The experience you bring to the board and your ability to discuss the issues that will come in front of you will have a direct impact on where this city goes in the future.”

Board President Chris Pickel ran unopposed in Ward 2 for a second three-year term.

“I want to thank the outgoing aldermen,” Pickel said. “… At the time we were elected (in 2006), I think it’s fair to say that this board was pretty fractured. And I think that these aldermen had a lot to do with us getting past that. Alder-man Wallach has talked about getting over the past, and I think we are all in agreement with that. And I think that the reason we’ve been able to do that, there was a level of respect … It’s OK to disagree. And I think that once people realize you can disagree with the ultimate goal of developing a better idea, I think the entire organization — in this case, the entire city — benefits from that. So we were able to build consensus, and I look forward to doing that as we go forward.”

In Ward 3, Paul Duchild won election over two opponents for a three-year term. Duchild received 343 votes, or 74.08 percent. Jack Bazzell received 91 votes, or 19.65 percent. The late Michael Argent, whose name remained on the ballot, received 28 votes, or 6.05 percent.

“I want to thank the citizens of Ward 3 who voted me into office,” Duchild said. “I thank my family, obviously, for being here. And former Alderman Roby, I appreciate all the assistance you’ve given me and the encouragement to uphold your seat.”

Duchild replaces Roby, who was first elected in 2006 and did not file for re-election in 2009.

“We always felt the city of Crestwood offered more than any other community in the surrounding areas could offer,” Roby said. “We have a wonderful Police Department. We have a great Fire Department. We have a tremendous park system. And we have a community that just takes pride in everything that we do.

“Certainly, the shutting down or the slowdown at the mall has had a major impact on the city and it’s obviously affected our finances. I know that all of you will be good stewards of the city’s money. You’ll continue to watch over the services that we have and that we provide and hopefully we’ll continue to provide to the citizens here in Crestwood. I’m humbled by the op-portunity to have served and I thank each and every one of the members that I did serve with.”

In Ward 4, Deborah Beezley defeated Nieder, who first was elected in 2006, for a three-year term. Beezley received 271 votes, or 52.83 percent. Nieder received 241 votes, or 46.98 percent.

“I look very forward to working with this community,” Beezley said. “I’ve met some tremendous people on this path. And I look forward to working with the community, with the staff and with the aldermanic team to bring our city back.”

Nieder did not attend last week’s meeting.