Challenges await our City Council

Sunday, April 10, 2011

For starters, I sincerely applaud anyone who runs for local office. And because of that, I give congratulations to the two candidates - David Carnell and Bob Depro - who faced off in this week's City Council elections in Sikeston.

Depro won the close contest and deserves our support as he steps into the formidable shoes vacated by longtime Council member Sue Rogers. And David Carnell deserves our congratulations for seeking an office that is unpaid, time-consuming and headache-producing.

It takes someone truly committed to public service and to this community to seek a seat on the city council. Having worked with councils for many years, I recognize the enormous amount of time devoted to these positions. Anyone willing to make that sacrifice deserves our sincere appreciation.

Retiring Council member Sue Rogers has been a tireless advocate for our community and an outspoken proponent of city improvements at all levels. She brought dedication to the Council but also a voice to the city who remembers the history and growth of our community. Her institutional memory will be missed.

Bob Depro too brings a lifetime of achievement to the City Council. The lifelong educator is a respected man of integrity and honesty. He won't be afraid to ask the tough questions. And I suspect in many cases, he'll know the answer before he asks the question.

There is no shortage of tough issues facing the Sikeston City Council in the not-so-distant future. One important issue squarely before the Council today is the long-debated issue of a new Department of Public Safety headquarters. That will immediately take center stage.

But there are larger issues that this Council will also face. Like countless other communities, we live with a restricted amount of tax revenue to meet the needs of our citizens. And I think it's highly appropriate for the Council to appoint a group - not the usual suspects perhaps - to look at the two-decade trend of declining population in our community. I'm clearly surprised this issue has not generated more discussion or concern. Perhaps both.

I have a pet issue with the removal of condemned properties that the city promised the citizens about seven years ago with the funding for the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority. As of today, there remain about 500 homes in Sikeston that have been condemned but remain because of insufficient funding for their removal. At our current pace of funding, it will be decades before we complete this task.

That timeframe of substandard housing removal is simply unacceptable. I challenge anyone to argue otherwise.

Crime, housing, jobs, etc. all will be on the plate of our new City Council. Above all else, this Council needs our input and support.

And that means you!

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