Gregory challenges Kaemmerer for Sunset Hills Ward 4 seat

Frank Gregory

Frank Gregory

By MIKE ANTHONY

A veteran Ward 4 Sunset Hills alderman hopes to beat back a challenge from a former Lindbergh Board of Education member in the April 4 election.

Frank Gregory, who served three terms on the Lindbergh Board of Education, and A. Ron Kaemmerer, who has served on the Board of Aldermen since 1992, are vying for the Ward 4 aldermanic seat, which carries a two-year term.

A third candidate, Roger Wilke, 9839 Lebanon Greens, 63127, did not respond to a Call questionnaire.

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

• “I believe trust and confidence is the single biggest issue in the race. The culmination of this sentiment has been reached directly as a result of the city’s efforts in the MainStreet at Sunset project in the Sunset Manor neighborhood,” Gregory stated.

• “Eminent domain. (It’s) become a divisive issue. It’s divided the community,” Kaemmerer stated.

Gregory, 52, 9811 Eagle Crest Court, 63127, is involved in leasing and property management with Kelley Real Estate Inc. He and his wife, Debby, have three adult children and a child who attends elementary school.

Gregory said he is seeking the Ward 4 aldermanic seat because “having had the privilege to serve on the Lindbergh school board and seeing the positive difference my fellow board members and I made for our community, I felt it important to get involved and try to make the same contribution in the municipality where I live. In talking to people, I have perceived that the city’s credibility and status within our community and the surrounding areas is at a crossroads. I believe my professional and educational background in finance and banking and real estate, combined with the nine years I served on the Lindbergh School District Board of Education — 1990-1999 with four years as president — provides me with the experience and communication, leadership and analytical skills necessary to address issues faced by the city … As a resident of Sunset Hills for over 19 years, I have a long-term commitment to the preservation and continued excellence of our city and will represent our community in a consistent and responsible manner.”

Kaemmerer, 72, 12731 St. Lazare Lane, 63127, is retired. He and his wife, Janet, have five adult children.

Kaemmerer did not provide a response as to why he is seeking re-election.

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing — TIF?

Gregory said, “Tax-increment financing was designed to assist in providing infrastructure — i.e. sewers, utility relocation, street improvement/realignment, signalization, etc. — for projects that benefit the community and where those costs make development prohibitive. This is a viable alternative for financing improvements that might not otherwise be feasible; therefore, I am in favor of the use of tax-increment financing where appropriate.”

Kaemmerer said, “Sunset Hills has had two TIF projects, the Plaza Home Depot and the Shoppes at Sunset Hills. The city was never at financial risk with a TIF. The risk is shared by the developer, the banks and the purchaser of the bonds. Without these two TIF projects and the revenue generated by them, the current tax rate of 6 cents per $100 would have had to increase 12 times to 72 cents per $100. This is the revenue that would be needed just to maintain the current level of services.”

In your opinion, is the Novus Development Co.’s proposed MainStreet at Sunset still a viable project?

Gregory said, “Based on all reports, discussion and the city’s repeal of several ordinances pertaining to the project, the MainStreet at Sunset project proposed by Novus Development is not a viable project.”

Kaemmerer said, “The Novus Development Co. project is no longer a viable project.”

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

Gregory said, “I believe the use of eminent domain is appropriate for redevelopment where public benefit can be demonstrated. Granting of this power should only be considered after a thorough assessment of a project, including such issues as the total number of people affected, disclosure of the number of properties under contract — i.e. the number of ‘willing’ property owners involved — the scope of the project and the viability of the development. Through good communication, a thorough investigation and analysis and approaching a request with an open mind, informed decisions can be made. In my opinion, it would be irresponsible for any public official to willingly relinquish or limit their city’s authority by not utilizing all powers vested in it for the benefit of the community.”

Kaemmerer said, “Eminent domain has never been used in Sunset Hills for any development project. It is included in redevelopment contracts to be used reluctantly when negotiations fail. The city has always emphasized to the developer to negotiate directly with the people involved.”