UPDATE: Two vie for Ward 3 seat in Sunset Hills election

Lipe, Scarlett seek election to Sunset Hills Ward 3 seat

Nathan Lipe

Nathan Lipe

By Gloria Lloyd

The only contested Sunset Hills race in the April 4 election is for the Ward 3 Board of Aldermen seat, which two former candidates for city office are seeking.

Nathan Lipe and Lori Scarlett are running for the seat currently held by Alderman Keith Kostial, who for the last year has attended most city meetings by videoconferencing and has been absent from nearly every meeting in 2017. Kostial did not file for re-election.

“Wasteful spending. I will put my experience as a buyer and smaller-business owner to use and focus on attracting new revenue-generating businesses, though only in designated commercially zoned districts. I want to work to build strong economic relationships that support area mutual interests while always prioritizing protection of property values and the residential character of our city. I believe public officials should proactively solicit feedback and opinions of residents and take prompt, appropriate action to address issues …,” Lipe said.

“Protect the interests of current Sunset Hills citizens. People came here and invested time, money and effort in making their homes and developing kind associations in their neighborhoods. It is important to keep the current residents’ interest first, over challenges by outside developers,” Scarlett said.

Lipe, 37, lives with his wife, Caiti, at 10735 Burrow Drive, and is a buyer for Western Oil and a small-business owner of Lemay Food and Drink. He came in second in the four-way race for mayor last year that was won by Mayor Pat Fribis.

Lipe said he is running because “I strongly believe in serving the community where one lives and know I can have a positive impact on Sunset Hills. I will bring a strong voice to Ward 3 and work in the best interests of its residents. I’m not running for personal or political glory, but instead genuinely want to see Sunset Hills thrive. I plan on raising my family here and want to see us be successful for generations to come.”

Scarlett, 58, 11 Roosevelt Drive, is the owner of BrightStar Care In-Home Care.

She ran for Ward 3 alderman in 2015 and lost to Kostial by three votes. She and her husband, Charlie, have five grown children.

Scarlett is running because “Sunset Hills is a wonderful place to live. We like it here. We want to keep it that way. I have been involved with many community activities, and the experience has taught me to listen and work to resolve problems …”

Lipe said, “It is best practice to be there in person. If elected as Ward 3 alderman, I am committed to attending meetings in person. Perhaps equally important, I will be highly responsive to residents who contact me with questions or issues outside of meetings. I believe it is an alderman’s primary responsibility to be available and responsive to residents at all times.”

Scarlett said, “No. There may be rare and unusual situations where emergency measures may require the use of videoconferencing. It should not be used as a commonplace event. If the incumbents find themselves in a situation requiring regular absenteeism, it follows that person is probably also absent from their ward and not readily available to constituents. They should resign.”

Lipe said, “It should remain residential.”

Scarlett said, “Residential. This has been questioned and debated for several years. The answer from residents/citizens has been consistent — keep this area residential.”

Lipe said, “Yes. Physically attending Board of Aldermen meetings is a given. But equally important is being available and responsive to residents outside of meetings.”

Scarlett said, “Yes.”

Lipe said, “In years prior, the city has minimally complied with Missouri’s Sunshine Law. Since the passage of an ordinance regarding open and honest government as well as the recent hiring of our city’s first City Administrator, Eric Sterman, I’m pleased to see greater transparency and wider dissemination of public documents posted online so that city residents can conveniently access for free at no additional cost to the city. While the city has improved greatly with disclosure of public documents pertaining to the Board of Aldermen, as an elected official I will work to ensure the same level of transparency on the other boards and commissions.”

Scarlett said, “As far as I am aware, I believe the current administration does a good job in keeping citizens informed about city concerns, activities and resolutions.”

Lipe said, “No, I believe material public documents should be proactively disclosed and posted online so individual residents are not forced to expend the time, effort and money to make formal Sunshine requests.”

Scarlett said, “Generally, NO. However, if there is a demand for research of some past incident that requires vast expenses of time and effort on the part of city employees, I believe it would be reasonable to expect some reimbursement from the requesting party.”

Lipe said, “I understand the pros and cons of using tax-increment financing. I see no need for Sunset Hills to use these resources.”

Scarlett said, “First: Measure cost versus effect. Where the prospective end result is of benefit to the citizens, TIF may be a useful tool. If the proposed project only benefits developers… NO.”

Lipe said, “I think Mayor Fribis has done a fine job since taking office.”

Scarlett said, “Yes. Decisions are made; meetings are orderly; there is a genuine interest in wanting residents to be heard.”

Lipe said, “I do not support eminent domain in Sunset Hills.”

Scarlett said, “Generally no. However, if a project is requested by citizens for the benefit of themselves and the city as a whole, as indicated by a positive vote on the subject, eminent domain can be used, providing the objecting party is fairly reimbursed for being deprived of his home or business. It should NOT be used when the sole benefactor is an outside developer.”

Lipe said, “In talking with many Sunset Hills business owners, they have indicated Sunset Hills is not business-friendly. Our priority will remain preserving and promoting the residential character of our great city, but there is no reason the city cannot and should not take steps to retain our local businesses and attract new businesses in designated commercially-zoned districts, only. In attracting new economic development, the first step is to continue asking residents which businesses they would like to see in Sunset Hills. High-quality restaurants, for example, is probably the most frequently given response I have received to date.”

Scarlett said, “Yes. Businesses will come if they see a way to make a profit and be successful.

We do not need businesses that make a profit only if they can negotiate special financial deals at city expense.”

Lipe said, “Yes, and there are many great ideas in the Comprehensive Plan for additional bike paths connecting to our parks. I think it is also important to work with MODOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) to change the hazard areas around Watson and Lindbergh.”

Scarlett said, “Yes. Bicycle paths can be expanded and improved.”

Lipe said, “Yes, I believe it is unethical to record someone without their knowledge and is a huge violation of trust. A person should be notified if a recording device is used and should always give their consent.”

Scarlett said, “It is unethical to tape record individuals without their knowledge. Recorded comments can be electronically altered, and the unsuspecting subjects’ comments can be misconstrued, resulting in an adverse opinion of the person interviewed.”

Lipe said, “I have observed Mr. Jones at Board of Aldermen meetings and found him to be knowledgeable on the various aspects of local government. Though I have not worked with him personally, I am not aware of any issues with Mr. Jones’ performance as city attorney and city prosecutor.”

Scarlett said, “It bothers me that Mr. Jones did not offer positive advice on invoking the intended purpose of the newly adopted videoconferencing law. He responded to an interpretation request by saying the law was vaguely written — a law which he authored.”

Lipe said, “I am against commercial encroachment of residential areas.”

Scarlett said, “No. First protect the property interests and investment of current citizens.”

Lipe said, “I do not have enough information to form an opinion on this issue. I know Public Works Director Bryson Baker was working with federal and state officials to pursue FEMA relief for the impacted residents, but I have not seen any proposals on what the city might accomplish if the residents’ properties were purchased.”

Scarlett said, “Yes, if it is fairly determined the city granted permission to occupy the area and the residents did so according to (if any) prescribed conditions imposed by the city zoning and construction codes. If the city told them not to build there and they proceeded, then the risk should be back on the residents.”

Lipe said, “Our Police Department does an exceptional job and is highly rated; they should remain intact as is. The city will not receive the same service if it is outsourced to the county.”

Scarlett said, “Yes. Local police is an amenity that brought people to Sunset Hills. It is an expense that most citizens appreciate and are willing to afford. Consistent patrolling, quick response by trained, effective and kind local officers is a welcome asset to the community.”

Lipe said, “Absolutely, I believe it is crucial that the city work with and maintain a strong connection.”

Scarlett said, “It is imperative that the city keeps the school district informed about possible population growth projects that have an effect on long-range school planning.”

Lipe said, “Yes, it is important that the city work with and maintain a strong connection with the district. Additionally, the city needs to discuss and collaborate with other municipalities within the Lindbergh district when proposed developments will impact Lindbergh Schools by materially increasing student enrollment.”

Scarlett said, “Yes (see above).”

Lipe said, “Eric Sterman has done an excellent job for the city, and I wholeheartedly support his performance. He is a wonderful resource, and I have heard several residents compliment his responsiveness and professionalism in helping to address issues or answer questions.”

Scarlett said, “Yes. A very welcome addition to a smooth-running city operation.”

Lipe said, “No.”

Scarlett said, “Not in the foreseeable future.”

Lipe said, “I think the several subdivision proposals that have been submitted and rejected are symptomatic of a larger problem of not soliciting resident feedback early and often. Like most of the locally impacted residents, I am not opposed to the subdivision development but have yet to see (an) agreeable proposal.”

Scarlett said, “No. The initial submitted plan changes the style of the neighborhood that the current residents/citizens invested in and chose to enjoy.”

Lipe said, “None of the city’s hotels are within Ward 3. I do not have sufficient information to form an opinion on this issue.”

Scarlett said, “Yes, as long as any changes do not adversely affect the ability of fire, safety and police responders.”

Lipe said, “I do not support any city-county merger efforts because a great city like Sunset Hills has more to lose than to gain. I do believe we have some of the best police officers and know most residents feel the same. The city already contracts out for fire services.”

Scarlett said, “No. The merger proponents seek to benefit the major city operations by increasing the tax revenues to be derived from the great property values currently in the county. Based on the annual reports which indicate the cost per person for operations, I believe (St. Louis) city should reduce their spending.”

Lipe said, “Yes, because we are fortunate to live in a well-off city. But there should be transparency in city expenditures and accountability in evaluating whether such expenditures should be made, what community benefits would be attained, and what opportunity costs are at stake in prioritizing expenditures. Too often in government, there is a blank check mentality when spending ‘other people’s’ money.’ If elected, I will bring the common sense of a small-business owner to ensure we are responsibly making expenditures that strengthen and improve our city. Additionally, I believe the city should proactively solicit resident input on major capital expenditures, which at present does not occur.”

Scarlett said, “I believe the city financial position is good and is being managed by capable employees.”

Lipe said, “People want to be safe. In Ward 3, many people want to take a stroll with their dog, families have moved in and have children playing and some just want to sit on the porch and take it in. As populations increase and life continues to get faster, so does the traffic and speed in our neighborhoods. I would like to create greater measures to ensure safety on our streets.

“I would like to see a beautification process occur. The large oaks and mature trees that define our city’s character are being decimated at an alarming rate. I would like to see them protected and new ones planted. The (Interstate) 270 and Gravois ramps look like an abandoned parking lot. I want to see warm and inviting neighborhoods and entrances to our city.

“For us to grow as a community, new development is going to have to take place. I would like to see the character and integrity of the neighborhoods protected. What I’ve observed is land being stripped, houses that don’t fit the neighborhoods they are built in and proposed sites that leave a little to be desired.”