Nolan withdraws from Sunset Hills mayoral race

Former two-term mayor cites health concerns

Bill Nolan

Bill Nolan

By Mike Anthony

Former Sunset Hills Mayor Bill Nolan has withdrawn his candidacy from the city’s April 5 mayoral election, citing health concerns.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Robert S. Cohen this week approved Nolan’s petition to remove his name from the April 5 ballot.

With Nolan’s withdrawal, four candidates remain in the city’s mayoral race — Ward 4 Alderman Pat Fribis, Larry Chorosevic, Nathan Lipe and Gregory Nelson.

Nolan filed for mayor the day filing opened, Dec. 15, and was first on the ballot. A former Ward 1 alderman, he first was elected mayor in 2010 and re-elected in 2012.

Running as a write-in candidate, Mark Furrer defeated Nolan for the position in April 2014. Furrer did not file for re-election.

In March 2014, Nolan, 73, had an “electrical problem” with his heart and an electrocardiologist operated on him, installing a pacemaker and defibrillator, solving the problem.

“I’d gone two years without any difficulty, was feeling great, and decided, ‘OK, fine. I guess it’s all right for me to run for mayor again,'” he told the Call.

But after having dinner with his wife, Mary, and a granddaughter last week at O’Charley’s in Kirkwood, Nolan said, “The VT (ventricular tachycardia) happened, and my defibrillator went off in my chest — twice.”

Though he said the episode quickly passed, 911 was called and he was taken to SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton.

“They call a fellow from Boston Scientific that makes the device in my chest, and he comes in,” he said. “And with a computer, he listens to everything my heart did, and as I’m talking with him, I say to him, ‘What causes this to just suddenly go off?’

“He said, ‘We don’t know for sure. If we did, we’d be rich. But the fact is, oftentimes it’s either anger or it’s stress.'”

The next day, Nolan asked his cardiologist about continuing his campaign for mayor. The cardiologist told Nolan that he didn’t have to make a decision right away, “but if it happens again, I’m going to tell you, you have to bag it.”

After having gone two years without incident, Nolan said he had been certain the problem was not going to reoccur. But since last week, he said he re-evaluated the situation, particularly given the stress involved in running a political campaign, and decided to withdraw his candidacy.

“Although I had great hopes that somehow I (would be) able to mediate and work out the problems between the various members of the Board of Aldermen, get the city back on its normal course of good behavior and well-run work, I don’t want the stress anymore,” he said.

As a result, Nolan said he petitioned the court to have his name removed from the ballot, “which, by the way, is more difficult than getting on the ballot. You get on the ballot for five bucks. You get off the ballot by hiring an attorney and getting a court order in order to tell the Board of Election Commissioners to take your name off the ballot.”

During Nolan’s first term as mayor, a category EF3 tornado with winds near 150 mph ripped through Sunset Hills on Dec. 31, 2010. The tornado tore a path of destruction from just east of the Fox Bridge subdivision along West Watson Road through the South Lindbergh Boulevard intersection, but resulted in less than a handful of minor injuries and no fatalities.

In response to the devastation, the city’s Tornado Assistance Fund raised $254,000 to aid those impacted by the tornado.

Also during Nolan’s tenure as mayor, residents voted to retire a prior capital improvement bond issue and save additional interest on the bonds, freeing up the capital improvement tax for future use.

While serving as mayor, Nolan was elected to the St. Louis County Municipal League Board of Directors. He also was president of the Suburban Mayors, a group of municipalities with less than 10,000 residents.

In 2014, Nolan was unopposed for re-election, but was defeated by Furrer, who launched a write-in campaign for mayor two weeks before the April 8 election. Furrer hired a political consultant, Show Me Victories, to assist him with his campaign.