Sunset Hills candidates raise most money overall

Charboneau only Crestwood candidate to form committee

Dee Baebler

Dee Baebler

By Gloria Lloyd

Aldermanic races in Sunset Hills attracted the most money overall in this spring’s campaign spending for local municipal races.

Half the seats on the eight-member Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen were up for election this year. The seats carry two-year terms.

Unlike past years, all the aldermen running for re-election faced opposition. The challengers all made similar arguments for their election and blamed the current aldermen for the discord in the city, while the incumbent aldermen attributed the change in the atmosphere at City Hall to the election last year of Mayor Mark Furrer.

Most of the incumbents won, including Ward 1 Alderman Dee Baebler, who has been on the board since 2010, and Ward 4 Alderman Patricia Fribis, who has been on the board since 2008. However, real-estate broker and acting board President Scott Haggerty of Ward 2 was defeated by Steve Bersche, a real-estate agent.

The city’s longest-serving alderman, Ward 3 Alderman Jan Hoffmann, decided to retire from her seat this year after 24 years, and the race for her seat was a photo finish between two challengers, Lori Scarlett and Keith Kostial. Final election returns released by the county at first showed Scarlett winning by one vote, but then another batch of votes were released that showed Kostial winning by three votes. Although Kostial is set to be sworn in to replace Hoffmann at the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, April 28, Scarlett said she would request a recount after election results were certified Tuesday.

Together, the eight Sunset Hills candidates spent $18,512 on their races, which funded competing mailers sent to residents in all the city’s wards. The city’s top individual fundraiser was Bersche, who received $3,450, followed by Baebler with $2,625, Fribis with $2,370, Scarlett with $2,125, Kostial with $2,000, Ward 1 challenger Dan Werner with $1,905, Ward 4 challenger Tom Hammelman with $1,325, and Haggerty with $1,300.

Of the wards, Ward 4 saw the most spending. Challenger Sal Frisella did not form a campaign committee or run an active campaign, and Fribis got a later start to fundraising than Hammelman but raised $2,370 with donations mostly made in the weeks before the election. Hammelman raised $1,325 early, but spent $2,737.

Hammelman sent out several fliers about Fribis, including an allegation that Fribis went door-to-door last year collecting signatures in favor of the QuikTrip proposed for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s commuter lots at Weber Hill and Kennerly roads, but Fribis sent him a cease-and-desist letter written by Baebler’s husband, attorney Drew Baebler, that said the claims were “false and libelous.” She sent out a follow-up flier in which she called Hammelman’s claim a lie.

Among the $2,370 in donations given to Fribis were $500 from Ward 1 Alderman Richard Gau, $500 from Al Moore, $300 from former Mayor Bill Nolan and his wife, Mary, $250 from Diane Dragan — the wife of Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Nick Dragan — $200 from Haggerty and $100 from Butch and Linda Thomas.

Nick Dragan is the current Planning and Zoning chairman, but Furrer has vowed to replace him as early as the next board meeting, Tuesday, April 28.

At the February meeting, the mayor’s nomination of former Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy for Dragan’s seat was rejected by aldermen 6-2, with Fribis opposed. In favor were Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich and Ward 4 Alderman Donna Ernst.

Fribis spent all her money and terminated her committee. Her major expenses included $1,310 to Mark’s Quick Printing for fliers, another $758 to Mark’s Quick Printing for signs, door hangers and card handouts and $178.68 for flier distribution to Call Newspapers.

In the Haggerty-Bersche race, Bersche outraised Haggerty $3,450 to $1,300. However, Bersche did not spend all his money: At the end of the reporting period covered by his quarterly report last week, he still had $1,371 on hand.

Musich supported Bersche over his fellow Ward 2 Alderman Haggerty and donated $200. Bersche’s largest donations came from new Planning and Zoning Commission member Tom Lynch, for $500, and Lighting Associates of Brentwood, which also donated $500.

Furrer has pledged to replace Nolan’s appointees to city committees, including the Ward 2 seat held by Nancy Goldkuhl, a former Planning and Zoning Commission member who served as Haggerty’s campaign treasurer.

At the February Board of Aldermen meeting, Furrer recommended Ward 2 resident Lynch — who fervently opposed the Kitun Park dog park located in Ward 2 that was supported by Haggerty and eventually opposed by Musich — to replace Goldkuhl on the panel, and the board approved the request 6-2, with Haggerty in favor. Baebler and Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger were opposed.

Other Sunset Hills Bersche donors include frequent public speakers at city meetings, Roger Kaiser and Clifford Underwood for $200 and $100, respectively, along with Hammelman’s campaign committee for $100 and former Ward 1 Alderman Doug McGuire for $50.

The campaign committee for St. Louis Alderman Tom Villa donated $300 to Bersche, and Suzen Villa of Sunset Hills donated $200.

Bersche’s major expenses included $673 and $536 to Mark’s Quick Printing for campaign signs and postcards and $361 to Pfitzinger Graphics for yard signs.

Haggerty filed an amended report Wednesday that he has $743 still on hand from the $1,300 he raised for his race.

Among Haggerty’s donations were $500 from Gau, $500 from former Finance Committee member Mike Hogan, who vocally opposed Furrer’s reclassification of the business license for New Balance last year, along with a $300 donation from Nolan. Haggerty’s major expense was $534 to Mark’s Quick Printing for mailers.

Baebler and Werner spent a combined $4,500 on their race. It was Werner’s fourth unsuccessful race for alderman, since he ran against Hoffmann in Ward 3 in 1997 and in Ward 1 in 1998 and 2000. Baebler was first appointed by Nolan in 2010, then was re-elected in 2011 and 2013.

In Baebler’s third successful race for alderman, she raised $2,625 for her Vote for Dee Committee, with most of it raised during the last month of the race. She had $680 on hand at the end of the reporting period covered by her April 15 quarterly report.

Baebler’s major donations included $500 from Gau’s Now for Gau campaign committee, $500 from Al Moore, $300 from Nolan, $250 from Nick and Diane Dragan, $250 from Bill Sullivan, $200 from Haggerty, $150 from Dennis Moore and $150 from Don Moore.

Her major expenses included $553 to MadCo Printing for yard signs, printing and door hangers, $716 to Call Newspapers for an ad and $150 to Tapawingo Golf Club.

Werner raised $1,905 total and spent $1,385, according to his latest report. Like Bersche, Werner received a $500 donation from Lynch and a $200 donation from Kaiser, along with $700 in small donations. His major expenses went to Office Max in Crestwood for $249 in ink and envelopes and two payments to Pfitzinger Graphics in Fenton for $280 and $230 in signs, along with $446 to Mark’s Quick Printing for a mailing that mentioned Baebler’s traffic stop for expired license plates.

In the Kostial-Scarlett race, Kostial came out three votes ahead of Scarlett in certified election results, but Scarlett outraised Kostial, $2,125 to $2,000, through a last-minute fundraising push.

During the last eight days before the election, Scarlett received $1,125 in donations. Hoffmann served as Scarlett’s campaign treasurer, and her largest donor was Nolan, who gave her $1,300, including a $1,000 donation March 31.

Scarlett’s major expenses included $404 to Mark’s Quick Printing for printing and postage of a mailer and $299 to Adsell Co. for postage, along with an earlier $699 payment to Mark’s Quick Printing.

Kostial also took in most of his money the last month of the election, raising $1,200 of his $2,000 during March. His major donor was his neighbor and campaign treasurer, Tim O’Keefe, who along with his wife, Julie, donated $1,000 to Kostial’s campaign. Kostial also donated $400 to himself, and he received a $300 in-kind donation from Bernie Elking Photography.

His major expenses included $692 to Mark’s Quick Printing and $422 to Pfilzinger Graphics.

In Crestwood, none of the candidates running for office formed campaign committees or filed reports except Ward 2 challenger Justin Charboneau, who defeated longtime Alderman Tim Trueblood for a three-year term.

Charboneau collected $1,992 in donations, with all of it coming from contributors donating $100 or less, along with $493 in in-kind contributions. He had $682 on hand at the time he filed his quarterly report last week.

Among Charboneau’s major expenses were a flier sent through Call Newspapers for $434 and yard signs from Gillan Graphics in Crestwood for $363.

In the flier sent through the Call, Charboneau included a family photo and promised “a new generation of leadership for a revived Crestwood,” listing promises for “responsible redevelopment” of the former Crestwood Plaza mall site, along with transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.

“I will offer independent insight that brings a fresh perspective to our city – void of any recycled ideas,” he wrote. “I will focus on bringing about economic growth while being fiscally responsible to protect our school district! I pledge to keep efforts focused on pertinent city matters, not political infighting. I will work to keep information flowing freely between the citizens and their government — no hidden documents = no hidden agendas. I will strive to maintain a balanced budget to keep taxes low.”

In Ward 4, Timothy Anderson defeated former Alderman Deborah Beezley for the seat currently held by Mike Vincent, 327 votes to 171. In the 2013 Ward 4 race, Anderson lost to board President Mike Tsichlis by seven votes. Beezley served as an alderman from 2009 to 2012.

Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach was unopposed in his re-election bid.

Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild did not seek re-election, and Economic Development Commission Chairman Grant Mabie was unopposed for Duchild’s seat. Mabie ran unsuccessfully in 2013 against Bill Boston for the other Ward 3 seat.