Fribis, Shady seek Sunset Hills’ Ward 4 seat

Candidates answer Call’s exclusive questionnaire

Patricia Fribis

Patricia Fribis

By BURKE WASSON

Political newcomer Stephen C. Shady is challenging incumbent Sunset Hills Ward 4 Alderman Patricia Fribis for a two-year term in the April 7 election.

Fribis was appointed as an alderman in 2008 to fill Mike Svoboda’s seat when he was elected mayor.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, the candidates responded:

• “Budget — because of the economy. Building of activity center and new pool. To see Prop P money spent to benefit the residents of Sunset Hills,” Fribis said.

• “Money, and the lack of it. We need to build up our commercial and business base to have the funds needed to provide all services our neighbors want and deserve,” Shady said.

Fribis, 59, 9843 Sunset Greens Drive, is owner of the House Springs Sewer Co. She has four grown children.

She is seeking election because “I feel very honored and qualified to serve. I would like to continue to serve and see the projects we are working on completed.”

Other issues perceived by Fribis include: “Retain existing businesses and attract new businesses to our community.”

Shady, 59, 11032 Rambling Oaks Drive, is an enterprise architect for the Boeing Co. He and his wife, Marilyn, have three grown children.

He is seeking office “to be more involved with the events of Sunset Hills.”

Other issues perceived by Shady include: “Fiscal responsibility. With limited resources, we need to be very careful and prudent on how we spend those funds and make sure we get good value for that expenditure. District 4 will see Old Gravois Road reconstructed along with the — hopeful — new bridge across the Meramec River into Fenton. We need to carefully follow that process and progress to make sure it comes out as expected.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing and other tax tools?

Fribis said, “I feel it can benefit new businesses, but it needs to be paid back over a fair period of time.”

Shady said, “I think the use of TIF money has become excessive over the years. It’s gotten to the point that developers routinely insert it as a major source of funding in their projects. Large development projects can become a major source of revenue for any municipality and, as such, they can and should be expected to contribute something to their successful outcome. But that funding should be limited to improvements in infrastructure that may be required by the development. It should not reach a level where the municipality is essentially an investor. On the other hand, these developments are like free agents. If you don’t offer financial incentives to do business within your community, they’ll take their business to the next municipality that may be more willing to toss around tax funds. It needs to be carefully balanced with a large dose of common sense.”

Do you agree with the direction the city is moving under the leadership of Mayor Mike Svoboda?

Fribis said, “I feel the city is moving in the right direction under Mayor Svoboda. We are generally all in agreement with the spending and are a financially responsible board.”

Shady said, “Yes. We had a recent history of problems with developments and direction. But I think the board has learned from this experience and are much more aware and cautious going forward and are asking the right questions to make sure they have all the facts before jumping to a decision.”

Do you support the use of eminent domain for redevelopment projects?

Fribis said, “I do not want to see private property acquired by eminent domain to the benefit of developers.”

Shady said, “I am against the use of eminent domain for redevelopment projects … Now, having said that, you can’t let a small percentage hold a development project hostage until they can get their exorbitant demand in excess to what everyone else is getting. Every effort needs to be made to ensure every business or homeowner receives a fair value for their property and hardship and they are happy and willing to accept the transaction. But for the one or two who refuse to accept any reasonable offer at any price, the use of eminent do-main would be the tool of last resort.”

In your opinion, has the Board of Aldermen complied fully with the the Sunshine Law? What will you do as an elected official to ensure compliance with the Sunshine Law?

Fribis said, “Yes, the Sunshine Law is followed in Sunset Hills. We are all informed by e-mails and mail. The board is very good at informing everyone of their feelings and we have always informed the citizens of new developments.”

Shady said, “I think Sunset Hills has done an exemplary job of providing public access to all board meetings and communicating the results of those meetings to everyone through a monthly newsletter. I plan to have a publicly available e-mail and phone number so anyone can call to offer thoughts, positions, suggestions or recommendations in a convenient and open manner.”

What is your “vision” for the city of Sunset Hills?

Fribis said, “To continue to grow with new businesses and offer the community an activity center and a new pool.”

Shady said, “I would like to see Sunset Hills continue to be the municipality that everyone wants to move to — beautiful, well-kept homes, parks and amenities that are in wide use, property values on the rise that support the local school district and services that meet the needs of all citizens.

“I would also like to see us build a business base that brings in retail shoppers from surrounding municipalities to spend their money here and help pay for some of this vision. It should be a great place to both live, work and shop.”