Fribis faces two challengers in Sunset Hills

Frisella, Hammelman looking to unseat incumbent Ward 4 alderman

Pat Fribis

Pat Fribis

By Mike Anthony

Two candidates are challenging incumbent Pat Fribis for the Sunset Hills Ward 4 aldermanic seat in the April 7 election.

Sal Frisella and Thomas Hammelman are looking to unseat Fribis, who has served on the Board of Aldermen since 2008.

• “The single most important issue at the current time is to bring the city back together. It is unfortunate with the circumstances that have happened with Mayor (Mark) Furrer that residents have taken sides. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The BOA (Board of Aldermen) has had a huge distraction since this occurrence,” Fribis said.

• “The ability of the board to competently and impartially manage the affairs of the city,” Hammelman said.

Frisella did not respond to a Call questionnaire.

Fribis, 65, 9843 Sunset Greens Drive, 63127, owns the House Springs Sewer Co. She has four grown children.

Fribis was appointed as an alderman in 2008 to fill Mike Svoboda’s seat when he was elected mayor. She defeated Stephen C. Shady to retain the seat in 2009, was unopposed in 2011 and defeated challenger Larry Chorosevic in 2013. Fribis is seeking re-election because “… being a 35-year resident of Sunset Hills, I want to continue to make sure the community stays a residential community with a low tax base. We need to keep a balance between residential and commercial with businesses that meet our residents’ needs in an area that does not encroach on our residential areas …”

Hammelman, 68, 16 Kennerly Manor Drive, 63128, is retired from the banking industry. He and his wife, Linda, have two grown children.

Hammelman, who has not held elective office, said he is seeking election “to bring a new attitude of cooperation, integrity, honesty and common sense to a body that seems ill-governed by a majority faction.”

Fribis said, “I feel the mayor of any city should pull the city together. Due to the circumstances that have occurred, the residents of the city are being divided. If the mayor had the best intentions for Sunset Hills, I feel he would take a leave of absence until his court case is resolved. Then he could return, if innocent, to his duties as mayor.

“Mayor Furrer has had some good ideas for our city, but there is a huge distraction with his pending case. The mayor and the Board of Aldermen need to work together with respect and professional behavior and that has not always happened.”

Hammelman said, “It seems that the mayor is being blocked by a contingent on the board in some cases. Otherwise, I am satisfied with his agenda and accomplishments.”

Fribis said, “Mayor Bill Nolan and I disagreed on various issues, but we always listened to each other and respected each other’s opinion. He always had the best interest of Sunset Hills in mind and showed excellent leadership skills during the tornado cleanup.”

Hammelman said, “Mayor Nolan was unseated in the last election.”

Fribis said, “If Mayor Furrer, or any other elected official, is found guilty of unlawful activity or misconduct they should be impeached and removed from office. I feel it is very important to listen to my constituents and act on their behalf.”

Hammelman said, “No, because he has not committed any impeachable actions that we, the public, are aware of nor has the board explained. Impeachment overturns an election and must be supported by proof of the commission of an impeachable offense.”

Fribis said, “Yes, Mayor Mark Furrer should take a leave of absence pending the felony charges. The issue of guilt/innocence is dividing our city. The focus of city government should be on city business and the situation has become a huge distraction. I called Mayor Mark Furrer and expressed my concern with his situation. I feel he should concentrate on his pending court case, his family and himself.”

Hammelman said, “No. He is innocent until proven guilty and should not resign. It happens that he has adequate time, interest and energy to focus on the city and his responsibilities to the citizens.”

Fribis said, “We should keep our Police Department in its existing form. If any changes are made, I feel it should be brought to the voters and let them decide after a thorough investigation of costs, services, et cetera.”

Hammelman said, “An inquiry into cost efficiency, equipment availability, et cetera, would be needed to answer this important question in an informed manner.”

Fribis said, “No, we have had some violations of the Sunshine Law. The newly elected officials need to learn the rules of the Sunshine Law and remember to copy the necessary people when there is a quorum regarding emails. We want to make sure we are transparent at all times. I will continue to follow the Sunshine Law and encourage everyone to follow it.”

Hammelman said, “As a new candidate I have not checked into compliance processes. It will be added to my list of issues.”

Fribis said, “Yes, we have the right to charge the Media for Sunshine requests under the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law and Resolution No. 268.  I feel it is a nominal fee for time and materials and it could become a huge expense if we did not charge.”

Hammelman said, “Yes, at a fair rate and fully disclosed.”

Fribis said, “I am against tax-increment financing for developers, although in the past, Sunset Hills has used it effectively for The Plaza and The Shoppes at Sunset Hills and it was paid off early. However, I do not feel Sunset Hills has a need for it currently.”

Hammelman said, “TIFs, if properly structured, benefit the community  and I support them. But they must meet the test of serving the interests of all parties.”

Fribis said, “I do not support the use of eminent domain for development projects. I want Sunset Hills to remain a residential community while retaining one of the lowest tax bases. We need to update the comprehensive plan to identify the commercial corridors without taking away any residential.

“I did not support the use of condemnation along Kennerly Road when the residents did not want to give up part of their front yards for sidewalks or shoulders. We had meetings and listened to the residents and changed the plans to accommodate their wants.”

Hammelman said, “Eminent domain must be very carefully considered and seldom initiated. The harm  to residents caused by a failed project is to be avoided at all costs.”

Fribis said, “My vision for the city is a more connected city. I was instrumental in getting $200,000 a year in the budget for new sidewalks, where applicable. We are currently working on a plan for sidewalks to be part of new developments or improvements, if and only if, the majority of the residents want them.

“Of course, our updated comprehensive plan will address residential areas and commercial areas that will give us direction with commercial corridors while still protecting our residential community. The newly formed Architectural Review Board will help maintain continuity of our standards.”

Hammelman said, “To be a premium residential community on a solid financial footing.”

Fribis said, “I feel our city is moving in the right direction concerning bicycle safety. In Public Works, we are using signage and bike lanes — wherever possible — for road improvements. Our city is a favorite with cyclists because of the terrain and we need to continue to welcome them. The cyclists and motorists need to respect the laws and each other.”

Hammelman said, “To the extent that our hilly, two-lane roads can accommodate cyclists, their presence has always and will continue to be welcome.”

Fribis said, “Yes. I feel it is unethical to tape someone without their knowledge. It would be more respectful and the right thing to do to ask: ‘Would it be all right with all parties if this conversation is taped?’”

Hammelman said, “Circumstances would dictate. If they have withheld information that was key to solving a problem, perhaps, yes.”

Fribis said, “I am satisfied with the performance of City Attorney Robert E. Jones. He acts in a professional manner and looks out for the best interest of the city. His actions are thorough and show integrity, class and honesty.”

Hammelman said, “I have insufficient experience with Mr. Jones to be able to answer thoughtfully.”