Police Board chair challenges Nieder for Ward 4 board seat in Crestwood

Candidates disagree on number of issues

Deborah Beezley

Deborah Beezley

By BURKE WASSON

Crestwood Police Board Chair Deborah Beezley is challenging incumbent Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder in the April 7 election.

Nieder is seeking his second consecutive three-year term.

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

• “Rebuilding of Crestwood’s mall and our portion of Route 66 to bring our city back for our families,” Beezley said.

• “Proposition S. Voters approved a 20-cent tax increase designated to retire the debt to Southwest Bank and remove the mortgages on city property. The Board of Aldermen promised, via resolution, to eliminate the tax when the debt was retired. When the debt is eliminated in 2010, the tax increase should be retired as promised in the resolution,” Nieder said.

Beezley, 57, 11730 Parkshire Drive, is a director of health-information management at St. Anthony’s Medical Center.

She is seeking office to “serve as an idea catalyst to continue the rebuilding of Crestwood’s mall and our portion of Route 66 in such a way that the region will be excited to visit and buy. Team with the other aldermen and city administration to bring our city back for our families. Protect Crestwood’s parks. Maintain and develop the availability of our parks and green space, which enhance our family friendly community. Work diligently to maintain the city’s critical infrastructure. Continue the safe and secure character of our community with a strong support of fire and police services.”

Nieder, 53, 9131 Cherry Brook Lane, is an industrial automation account manager. He and his wife, Jeanette, have a son.

He is seeking re-election because “I am committed to the survival of Crestwood for my family and the citizens of Crestwood. I will continue to, as I have for the past three years, require fiscal responsibility, accountability and a transparent government.”

The candidates gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

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

Beezley said, “Reality must be the paramount factor in deciding what economic tools are to be employed. While TIFs may be a good idea gone bad in certain instances, they are currently one of the tools that may be a necessary part of a development.”

Nieder said, “These sales-tax tools motivate destructive economic behavior by cities that encourages developers to stretch the limits of fiscal sense and elected officials to avoid their constituents.”

Centrum Properties and Angelo, Gordon & Co. purchased the Crestwood mall in March 2008 from the West-field Group. Do you support their performance since purchasing the mall?

Beezley said, “To the degree that the public has been made aware of the mall’s progress, I support their efforts and wait with anxious anticipation to see the ultimate creation. I applaud their interim efforts — and maybe long-term efforts — to engage the Regional Arts Council.”

Nieder said, “Present economic conditions have prevented most businesses from executing their plans. I am confident the new owners will take action when the economic conditions favor increased investment in the property.”

Do you agree with the direction the city is moving under Mayor Roy Robinson?

Beezley said, “Absolutely. Mayor Robinson, I feel, believes strongly in Crestwood. He has led Crestwood through difficult times and appears to continue to have the future prosperity of Crestwood as one of his prime concerns.”

Nieder said, “The mayor’s accomplishments are shadowed by his actions referring to the citizens of Crestwood as ‘illegitimate’ and ‘ignorant.’ The mayor’s changing commitment about the issues of increasing property taxes and expenditure reductions leaves the city of Crestwood without a clear plan. If a plan is not created, failure is imminent.”

Do you support the performance of City Attorney Rob Golterman?

Beezley said, “Mr. Golterman seems to be an accomplished and experienced attorney. His expertise and experience in dealing with the legal and ethical problems which have confronted the city, as I observe during public aldermanic sessions, appear to be of value to the city.”

Nieder said, “While Mr. Golterman does aggressively represent the interest of the city as directed by the Board of Aldermen, when giving his best and honest recommendations regarding legal issues I believe the advice given, at times, less than accurate and not technically correct. Perhaps Mr. Golterman does not possess an efficient and effective knowledge of the city’s municipal codes and regulations.”

Do you support the performance of City Administrator Jim Eckrich?

Beezley said, “Yes. As a member of an administrative team, one needs to support the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of an entity while providing one’s feedback via a positive interchange.”

Nieder said, “I recognize that 2008 was very busy for Mr. Eckrich as he accepted the position of  the city administrator, a position new to Mr. Eckrich.  Close observation of the results from the 2009 budget will provide an insight to the ability of Mr. Eckrich to build an effective staff and create a strong city financial position.”

What would you do to improve the Board of Aldermen’s public relations with the community?

Beezley said, “Recommend one of the first items on the Board of Aldermen agenda be a focus on resident input and the provision for updates on current city activities inclusive of the mall. Encourage the establishment of community focus groups which can be vital to secure the ideas of Crestwood residents.”

Nieder said, “Government transparency is the single most important action required to improve public relations.”

Do you believe the city has faithfully adhered to the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also known as the Sunshine Law?

Beezley said, “Yes.”

Nieder said, “No. The city attorney, as required by law, has not been strictly interpreting the law as required.”

With loss of revenue in mind, do you believe city officials should examine further cuts in spending? If so, what do you believe could be reduced?

Beezley said, “In my view, the current administration and Board of Aldermen have worked toward streamlining city services. Nothing, in my opinion, validates a further cut to fire or police services placing in potential jeopardy the safety and security of Crestwood citizens.”

Nieder said, “All communities are increasingly faced with the challenge of reducing expenditures. Saving money without threatening value-adding activities is one of the keys to success. We have not been effective at the ability to protect key objectives while cutting costs and have not demonstrated the knowledge of how to deliver cost-reduction plans.”

In August, 72 percent of voters rejected the six-year, 35-cent tax-rate increase Proposition 1. How did you vote on Prop 1 and why?

Beezley said, “I supported Prop 1. Crestwood citizens have benefited in the past and will benefit again in the future from a strong presence of Crestwood’s mall. It may be time, however, without the mall’s active presence for residents to temporarily assist to maintain the critical infrastructure of our community for everyone’s safety and security.”

Nieder said, “I voted no. The proposition failed to specify where the funds would be used and clearly demonstrate need.”

In 2007, aldermen voted to require the City Clerk’s Office to distribute meeting notices to media that request such notices. Do you believe the city should continue to provide meeting notices to media?

Beezley said, “There should not be obstacles to the working press fulfilling their functions.”

Nieder said, “In the interest of transparent government, I believe the city should continue providing the meeting notices to media.”

What is your “vision” for Crestwood?

Beezley said, “Safe, strong and secure community for residents and their families; mall and lifestyle center development; parks and green space which enhance our family friendly community; focus on senior citizens and their needs, provide forums to allow their talents to help serve as a guiding force in redevelopment efforts.”

Nieder said, “I want Crestwood to thrive for my family and all the citizens who call Crestwood home. This can only be achieved with a financially and fiscally responsible government.”