Issues, candidates large in number
It came down to the 11th hour on candidate filings, but resulted in a full slate for upcoming elections for mayor and Baldwin City Council members. A primary will be Feb. 27 and the general election is April 3.
When noon Tuesday rolled around, the deadline for filing for four open positions, there were 13 candidates four for mayor and nine for the three council spots. It was a far cry from the five candidates one of which pulled from the race prior to the election for three open spots two years ago. Four years ago, there was only one declared candidate and a write-in candidate for mayor.
The candidates for mayor are incumbent Stan Krysztof, Ken Hayes, Slade Dillon and Michael C. Green. Green was the last to file. For the two four-year council positions, the candidates are George Rebman, Carol Taul, Ken Wagner, Carol Lanoue, incumbent Lee Whaley and George McCrary. Whaley and McCrary were the last to file. For the two-year unexpired term, candidates are Todd Cohen, Mike Magers and incumbent Eugene Nelson. Cohen was previously the only announced candidate.
Why such a drastic change in interest for running for mayor and city council? The candidates have different opinions.
"I see it as a picture of the city council at this point is not into any big decision making, but has opened itself up to ridicule," said Krysztof. "There has been controversy about decisions that have been made. They haven't said 'this is what you should have done.' They're saying 'this is what you shouldn't have done.'"
Krysztof, 62, who owns K&K Grinding, plans to run on the record he's established during his tenure as mayor. The other three candidates intend to run on that record as well, they say.
"I've put my platform out to the public and I will expound on it," said Hayes, 34, co-owner of Cornerstone Construction. "I eagerly await to see what my opponents' stances on the issues are. My platform will help rebuild the city and hopefully help reverse the poor decisions made by the city council over the last four years.
"We are well on our way to getting four fresh faces on the city council," Hayes said, referring to his campaign slogan.
Dillon, 29, who works at Baldwin State Bank, believes he knows the reason the mayor's race didn't have much of a choice four years ago.
"The last time I wasn't living here and I'm not sure the other two candidates were living here either," said Dillon. "Maybe the apathy has stopped. It's a good sign. There are people who want to get it done. The city is a continuing concern because I plan on staying around for quite some time."
The fourth candidate, Green, 52, is a developer who built Signal Oak Estates, the northern most point of the city, and is currently developing the land to the south of Signal Oak. He has experienced problems in dealing with the city during that time and has one main reason for running for mayor.
"I just want to have a forum to discuss these issues," said Green. "That's all."
No matter what their views or where they stand, the mayor's and the city council race has stirred plenty of interest.
"I think it's going to be very interesting," said Krysztof. "It just depends on how some people conduct themselves (in the campaign)."
A public forum for mayoral candidates is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Feb. 1 at the American Legion Hall. A similar forum for city council candidates will be Feb. 15 in the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium.
Nelson, 65, the incumbent for the two-year city council position, thinks the forums are a good idea. He's also pleased with the number of candidates.
"That's great," Nelson said of the forums. "That's part of the process, too. I think it's good that there's been that many file. Our government depends on people to volunteer and do their job, and that's to participate."
Fellow incumbent Lee Whaley, 70, had been riding the fence about running, but finally decided to seek re-election.
"I decided at the last minute to let the people decide if I'm doing a good job or if they want someone else," said Whaley. "That's the good thing about it. I didn't feel like I did a good job keeping the mill levy down, but it could have been a lot worse. It's horrendous what the town is needing to do.
"I've pretty much enjoyed my work on the council," he said. "I know there are people who want to see me gone, but there are those that want me back. What bothers me most is not knowing what will happen in the future with the economy and how it impacts the growth here."
The other two late filers, McCrary and Magers, have various reasons for running. McCrary, who is vice president of his own consulting firm, is a 1984 graduate of Baldwin High School who lived in St. Louis for nine years before returning home about a year and a half ago.
"I want to be involved in the long term planning of Baldwin," said McCrary, whose wife is Cheryl and the couple has two young children. "The other thing I want to do is get the three major institutions in Baldwin the city, Baker University and the school district to work together for the community of Baldwin."
Magers, 30, owner of the Salt Mine, has lived in Baldwin for 12 years and hasn't cared for some of the decisions made by the present council.
"I'm running for several reasons, really," said Magers. "I've gotten to the point where I've seen a lot of things happen that I don't agree with and I want to be a part of the process. Specifically, I'm concerned about the utility rates and the proposed new industrial/recreation park. There just seems to be a lot of things that come up that the city tells the people what they need to know. There's just not enough information made available. Hopefully, we'll be able to work with the community to make good decisions.