Jefferson City Council candidates discuss infrastructure, economy, development in forum

Jefferson City Counci candidates...

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Jefferson City Council candidates took part in a forum Tuesday at City Council chambers just two weeks ahead of the April election.

Eight of the nine people running for council seats talked about their individual stances on aging infrastructure, like the city's growing stormwater issues and blighted areas like the East Capitol Avenue area, to ways they would try to spur economic growth, among other topics.

Charles Jackson, Ron Fitzwater and Leonard Steinman are running for a one-year term to fill former councilman Glen Costales' seat in the Fourth Ward.

In the First Ward, David Kemna is running against incumbent Jim Branch.

Lara Ward, Ken Hussey, Mark Schreiber and Carlos Graham are all running unopposed for an additional term in their current wards. Graham did not attend the forum.

Candidates who attended the forum widely agreed the city needs to do something about the stormwater issues across the city. Several voiced support of the proposed stormwater utility fee that residents may vote on in August.

"Because of development, we have stormwater issues with Wears Creek, especially at Satinwood and Stadium," Jackson said.

"If we don't expand our sewers and make them bigger instead of choking them off, we're gonna pay for it," Steinman said.

Candidates also voiced concerns about some aging fire stations and the need to support public safety.

"I know that Fire Station 2 on the east side is also in need of some improvements," Kemna said.

Candidate were also asked if they thought there was a need for economic growth or an increase in population.

Nearly all of the candidates agreed there is a need to look at ways to bring more jobs to the city.

Some recommended doing that by helping small businesses.

"Try to get some regulations kind of tamped down a little bit so that they're not quite so onerous," Branch said.

Others suggested working with local companies to keep workers in town that may be affected by state cuts.

"We know we've got an influx of folks into the job market as state government cuts back trying to figure out ways to get them involved," Fitzwater said.

Some also suggested increasing tourism efforts.

Candidates also talked about the city's ongoing urban renewal efforts in the East Capitol Avenue area, as well as the city's use of special taxing districts as tools to spur economic development.

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