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Ken McClure speaks about progress at the municipality, his work as mayor and economic development wins.
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Ken McClure speaks about progress at the municipality, his work as mayor and economic development wins.

Transcript: Mayor McClure delivers final State of the City address

Posted online

Editor's note: Springfield Mayor Ken McClure this morning presented his final annual State of the City address. Speaking at Evangel University, McClure spoke about progress at the municipality, his work as mayor and economic development wins, among other topics. A full transcript of his address is below.

Good morning.

I am so pleased to be with you all this morning – June 6, 2024. Today marks my eighth and final state-of-the-city address, as this time next year a new mayor will take this stage and lead our city. That mayor, to be elected in April 2025, will serve a four-year term as allowed by the Charter change approved by the City’s voters. Today is also the 80th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, the day during World War II on which the Allies -- American, British, and Canadian troops -- invaded France, a giant milestone on the road to defeating Nazi Germany.

Nine thousand Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in those first 24 hours — but D-Day is largely considered the successful beginning of the end of Hitler's tyrannical regime.

So much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.

There were thousands of Americans there that day. And Jack Hamlin was one of them. Jack Hamlin was born in Springfield in 1921. He graduated from Springfield, now Central High School, and enrolled in Drury University in Springfield. In 1939, Jack was able to play in the minor leagues for the New York Yankees farm club in Joplin, Mo. Then the war started and Jack - like most men - enlisted in the service. He did not qualify to serve because of a childhood sickness so he joined the Coast Guard, thinking he would stay in the United States to defend our homeland. This was not true and Jack soon found himself crossing the English Channel on June 6, 1944 - D-Day, 80 years ago today.

Later today I will recognize Jack, who is living at the Montclair, with a proclamation and Key to the City highlighting his service to country and community. Those of you who know him know about his indeterminable spirit, his 100-watt smile and his enthusiasm for life. Thank you, Jack. We salute you.

It is hard for me to believe how quickly time has passed since first being elected mayor in 2017. In some respects, the whole world has changed in just seven short years. We have survived a pandemic. We have addressed seemingly intractable problems. We have cried together, laughed together, and defined a vision for our collective future.

Throughout the past seven years, we fought crime, contained fires and built new roads and confronted a deadly disease and emerged stronger than before. We enhanced our community through economic development and quality of place. We found new ways to tackle old problems…and head off new ones from becoming problems. It has been an extraordinary journey.

I continue to be inspired by our town-gown relationship. We are very fortunate to have outstanding institutions of higher learning. Evangel…Drury…Ozarks Technical Community College…Missouri State University…all help shape the lives of more than 45,000 young people. Thank you, President Mike Rakes, for once again hosting us here at Dr. Robert Spence Chapel on the beautiful campus of Evangel University. It is the perfect place for us to gather and reflect.

This past year, we have looked inward, focusing on our neighborhoods as we embrace the importance of, and power in, being a good neighbor and consider the best ways to stabilize and enhance neighborhoods. David Burton, County Engagement Specialist with University of Missouri Extension bravely admitted, “I am learning that there are people right around me that have incredible things to share with me and others. It is like I have been living next to a gold mine, but I was too busy to know there was gold next door.

He further asked, “Could it be that the cure for our nation’s anger and loneliness epidemic is right under our nose?”

It is possible. Over the years, studies have found a correlation between trust and health. People who trust their neighbors are less stressed and report feeling better. Our relationships in general— with family, friends, coworkers, and community members— can have a major impact on our health and well-being. When people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices and to have better mental and physical health outcomes. The outcomes are even better for children.

Burrell Behavioral Health President Clay Goddard coined the term “pandemic hangover” to define the era in which we live. We are moving forward, yet each of us feel a little bit different than we did before. Life can be difficult. And it can be divisive. As we go about our daily lives and perform our daily work, I encourage us all to fight this division by getting to know one another – really get to know one another. From the simplest act of kindness, like bringing your neighbor a spring bouquet to volunteering at the local food drive, coming together when we feel like falling apart, is the way forward. Simply acknowledging people you meet on the sidewalk with a “hello” will go a long way.

More people need to understand the power of social connection, specifically as we work to embrace the vision of our comprehensive plan: Forward SGF. Moving forward together gets us there faster.

Mental health challenges continue to be a symptom of that pandemic hangover Clay described. In recent years, the suicide mortality rate in Springfield-Greene County has surpassed the averages of both Missouri and the United States. For men in our community, this problem persists at an even higher rate—men over 45 are the group most likely to die by suicide. These jarring statistics point to an overdue, necessary conversation about men’s mental health.

I would like to thank the members of the Healthy Living Alliance, who opened that difficult conversation and continue to empower our community to thrive by connecting resources to promote healthy lifestyles. I am thankful also for world-class health care providers CoxHealth, Mercy, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Thank you for working together to provide life-saving health care.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is celebrating 150 years of service this year, which gives us an opportunity to look back on the significant progress of public health in our community throughout the past century and a half. Thank you, Director Katie Towns, and the team at the Health Department for all you do.

Tying together health care and education, four of our region’s leading institutions announced this past year the creation of the Alliance for Healthcare Education. CoxHealth, Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College and Springfield Public Schools have come together for a bold, collaborative approach that will develop the talent to meet – and exceed – our region’s health care workforce needs for decades to come.

The City and its partners continue to work together to address the workforce needs of our community and assist local schools in preparing our future workforce. From talent attraction and retention initiatives to workforce development, programs are in place to ensure employers have access to the best and brightest labor force possible.

According to the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership:
• Almost 7,000 new jobs were created in the metro area over the past five years.
• The bulk of these new jobs are in the professional services, manufacturing, and
health care sectors.
• Unemployment steadily declined to around 2.0% — down from 9.9% during the
pandemic.
• 90% of the counties in the Springfield Region are currently pursuing the
Certified Work Ready Community status.
• The Springfield metro workforce has grown more than 5% in the past 10 years,
and accounts for more than one-third of Missouri’s total job growth.

Springfield continues to experience strong retail sales and momentum in the area economic development. Current project successes improve livability for Springfieldians, including the beautification of City property, roadways and entryways. Seventy-three percent of citizens asked in a long-range planning survey, indicated they were supportive of the City devoting funding towards projects dedicated to the beautification of public infrastructure like landscaping, green spaces and public art. And just last month more than 1,000 residents volunteered their time to pick up litter and get rid of trash through an initiative called Clean Green Springfield.

Springfield has a variety of momentum projects under way or in the planning stages. Construction for the Grant Avenue Parkway project is progressing, along with approval of the redevelopment plan, which includes incentives that are already encouraging residential revitalization and stimulating reinvestment within the district. Nordic Landing, a housing cornerstone for the Grant Avenue Parkway Project, broke ground on a 41-unit apartment development that will provide quality affordable housing to mixed income individuals and families. Flourish Community Development Corporation will serve as the nonprofit partner
at Nordic Landing. This means providing staff to assist residents in accessing available community services including resources like Jobs for Life employment training, Faith and Finance classes, mentorship and more.

Boys and Girls Club of Springfield broke ground near the Parkway for the Risdal Family Teen Center for Great Futures. The center will provide a safe place for middle and high school youth to go after school with programming focused in six core program areas: education, workforce readiness, the arts, character & leadership, health & wellness and sports & recreation.

With this project, we expect positive outcomes like improved grades and attendance, improved social and emotional skills and equitable access to opportunities.

The City has also continued its focus on leveraging state and federal funding for additional transformative projects outlined in Forward SGF, including Renew Jordan Creek and the Art Museum expansion.

The City has wrapped up the Lake Springfield planning project, funded by an $800,000 grant from the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The planning project had a $200,000 match from the Hatch Foundation, City Utilities and the City of Springfield’s Environmental Services Department.

City Council and the City Utilities Board of Directors voted to accept the bold and exciting plan in April. It identifies future opportunities to complement Lake Springfield Park and the Boathouse.

The plan includes adaptive reuse planning for the decommissioned coal-powered plant and vision for the Lake Springfield area, encompassing approximately 1,000 acres of publicly owned land.

I believe this plan—although not attached to any funding currently— serves as a catalyst for innovative economic and recreational opportunities, new infrastructure, sustainable water quality and green infrastructure. It also provides the opportunity for compatible development to increase the tax base, create jobs and improve the quality of life of the region’s workforce and their families.

Springfield continues to facilitate proactive investments in public infrastructure for areas within the City that have the highest potential for development and redevelopment. The first Buc-ees in the State of Missouri, a 53,000 square foot travel center, opened in December. City Council approved an Infrastructure Reimbursement Agreement with Buc-ees to fund public infrastructure. We also approved a petition to establish a Community Improvement District to reimburse the developer for public improvements needed for the project.

O’Reilly Hospitality is completing a $20+ million redevelopment project to convert the historic Medical Arts Building in downtown Springfield to a Moxy Hotel, opening soon.

To stimulate economic development in Springfield’s industrial areas, the City of Springfield continues to make transportation improvements in the areas of LeCompte Road. The public and private partnership has leveraged State and Federal Funding. LeCompte Road serves as one of the main thoroughfares for the industrial, manufacturing and warehousing land uses east of U.S. 65, and these improvements will position large acreage sites for development.

Two new Enhanced Enterprise Zone projects were approved this past year, including a $7.2 million dollar expansion of F&H Food Equipment, resulting in 20 new jobs, and an expansion of 27North, Inc. with a capital investment of $6.2 Million and 30 new jobs.

Due to the collaborative work of the City of Springfield, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Greene County, City Utilities and additional partners throughout the region through the Springfield Regional Economic Partnership, there are currently a total of 19 active projects, six with existing businesses and 18 with new businesses considering a location in our region. Most of these projects are in the manufacturing sector, with additional projects in logistics, information technology and other industries. These projects are not yet guaranteed to locate in the Springfield region, but represent a potential 2,674 new jobs, $115 million in new payroll and $3.4 billion in new investment.

The City is financially sound. Moody’s Investor Service, the City’s bond credit rating service, reaffirmed the City’s general obligation credit rating as Aa1 in its 2024 Credit Opinion on Springfield. An Aa1 rating is the second highest rating available.

A new budget transparency portal launched this year allowed the City to have a more streamlined, collaborative budgeting process for City staff and readily and publicly available reports and data.

The state of the city is good. Challenges, yes. Successes, many more. Opportunities, enumerable.

Forward SGF calls for a full update to the City’s Land Development Code and Ordinances to align regulations with the recommendations contained in each chapter. This research-driven update will create new development guidelines to support the Plan’s vision.

A significant effort has been made to make this new comprehensive plan a viable guide to the next few decades of successful growth of the City of Springfield.

But currently, the City lacks a funding source to accomplish most of the impactful capital improvement and community goals outlined in the Forward SGF.

This April, however, City Council unanimously approved creating a Citizens’ Commission on Community Investment. This diverse group of community stakeholders is charged with evaluating and prioritizing the highest and best uses for a local sales tax capacity upon the scheduled 2025 expiration of the current ¾-cent Police-Fire Pension Sales Tax.

The citizen commission is currently working on a comprehensive recommendation that
• Secures ongoing pension obligations for 2025 and beyond
• Advances impactful public safety initiatives and
• Prioritizes Forward SGF transformative capital and neighborhood revitalization
projects, including infrastructure and maintenance needs – setting priorities on what is tackled first.

The obligation to the Police-Fire pension fund will continue as long as there are participants and descendants of participants living and regardless of whether a revamped tax is secured. This obligation would fall somewhere between $3.5 and $5 million annually, which would be a major hit to our City budget.

I am grateful to the citizens who are taking the time to engage and conduct their work on this commission in a transparent manner, in full view of the public.

It is a very critical time, and I mean that in a positive sense. We have opportunities for our community to look at and say these are needs that we want to try to address, and we can do that at no tax increase. This is a great opportunity for our community.

Former Council members Phyllis Ferguson and Tom Prater are very well suited to lead this public discussion regarding Springfield’s future. Thank you for your service. Would you please stand up and be recognized.

We are moving forward with steps to improve and increase the quality of our housing stock. The City completed its most comprehensive housing study in history – an effort that is helping us close our housing gap and rejuvenate neighborhoods in need. For the first time in our history, Springfield has more renters than homeowners. Home ownership has declined 17% from 2010 to 2020. The study found some good news: 77% of all housing is in good condition.

But with 21% of all housing structures in fair to worse condition and 30% built between 1840 and 1940, we have some work to do. Programs like Restore SGF and the City’s longstanding programs are facilitating new investment in Springfield’s neighborhoods and bringing new inspiration to thousands of homeowners and soon-to-be-homeowners across the city.

Families like Alyssa and Michael McDaniel and their children Na-vay-a, 4, and Brixton, 1, are moving into their first home thanks to the down payment assistance program. As they shared with the News-Leader’s reporter Marta Me-ay-za, the couple had been working on their credit for a while. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alyssa McDaniel became a stay-at-home mom and, at the time, homeownership did not seem plausible. Rebounding from the pandemic and with their credit improving, the family was finally in arm's reach of their first home in February. At the time, Restore SGF was not yet offering the down payment assistance program. As they were working through the loan process and shopping for houses, the applications opened up and theirs was submitted. Within a week or two, the first-time home owners were approved and ready to close on their new home.

We are serious about addressing properties that are considered a chronic nuisance that bring trouble to neighborhoods. The City’s Building and Development Services is taking a proactive approach in addressing these properties, transitioning from a complaint-based approach, to a proactive one that puts code enforcement inspectors into the field where the most problems are occurring and not waiting for complaints. BDS is taking things one step further, by actively involving stakeholders in the enforcement process. We hope this will cultivate a sense of ownership and shared responsibility for maintaining community standards, and fostering a culture of civic pride and cooperation.

The City’s Public Works Department continues to invest in projects that improve quality of place, with a particular focus on improving our outdoor public spaces. With a highly skilled professional and a collaborative staff, the Public Works department is responsive to the need for quality infrastructure through engineering, transportation, stormwater systems, municipal building and facility projects, and support services. In 2023, your Public Works street operations team did an excellent job maintaining 1,770 lane miles of streets and 640 miles of sidewalks. The division completed various maintenance and repair tasks in 2023, including patching 4,309 potholes and clearing stormwater grates 1,623 times, while also responding to 184 emergency service requests for drainage and flooding issues. Transportation engineering led major improvements on Jefferson Avenue, the Battlefield and Lone Pine intersection and Republic Road upgrades, while overseeing the construction of the Grant Avenue Parkway project.

Work continues on the daylighting of Jordan Creek - a transformative project to restore the historic Jordan Creek as it flows through the heart of downtown Springfield. The project’s primary objectives are to reduce flood damages to property and infrastructure from recurrent flooding, renew this area of downtown for enhanced economic development, and improve water quality in Jordan Creek.

This past year, the men and women of the Springfield Police Department connected in new ways with the citizens of Springfield. SPD has long emphasized a departmental-wide philosophy of community policing by engaging daily with members in every area of our community. The duties, responsibilities, and expectations of the police in today’s ever-changing environment are widespread.

SPD utilized new equipment and innovative programs including a mental health co-responder program with Burrell Behavioral Health, Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, and enhanced public information and educational materials to help prevent and combat crime.

Community response to crime prevention efforts has also helped lead to a reduction in reported crime across the board. Overall, crime in Springfield in 2023 was down 9.5 percent over 2022. This includes a .8 percent decrease in crimes against persons, 15.9 percent decrease in crimes against property and a 2.8 percent decrease in crimes against society. Less violent crime and fewer property crimes increased the community’s overall sense of safety and security.

Gun violence, however, continues to affect Springfield and has remained the number one priority for the SPD. I am particularly concerned with how it is affecting our youth. Of 133 shooting investigations in 2023 in Springfield, 21 of the suspects were age 18 and under; 66 of them were age 24 and under.

The number of people reported being shot grew from 55 in 2019 to 73 in 2022. Shots fired calls for service have jumped from 183 in 2016 to 356 in 2022. In 2023, “shots fired” calls fell to 319, with 58 people injured, a result that reflects the police department’s focused efforts and provides a glimmer of hope for the future.

But we cannot just rely on the police department to solve this problem. Any effort to decrease gun violence needs to be community-wide, involving community leaders, faith leaders, business leaders, academic leaders, mental health leaders, parents and family members. Because it takes all of us working together to really make an impact on gun violence.

According to the Missouri Foundation for Health, firearms are considered the leading cause of death for children and teens — and for adults under 25. Centers for Disease Control data show that Missouri is the 9th-worst state for firearm mortality among all ages, with a death rate that roughly doubled between 2005 and 2021.

As reported in the Springfield Daily Citizen, when Jasmine Allen considers Missouri’s statistics, she thinks of it less in terms of “lives lost” and more about “years lost” — the many years her 29-year-old late brother Calvin Allen, Jr. had ahead of him; the years she will have without him; the years his two children will have without their father.

Calvin, a former Parkview High School standout basketball player, was stabbed and fatally shot in Springfield in 2019 by a 19-year-old now serving a life sentence without parole.

We are fortunate to have Francine Pratt with Community Partnership of the Ozarks and Clay Goddard co-leading a new effort called the Gun Safety and Violence Collaborative. Community mobilizers, like Pastor Roger Franklin of the Heart Church are doing the difficult work connecting with young people and meeting them where they are. And most importantly, listening.

But, there are changes that only legislation can fix. A good start was made by this year’s General Assembly. Senate Bill 754, a wide-ranging bill by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer, was Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed on the last day of the legislative session. Key provisions of the bill were sponsored by Representative Lane Roberts of Joplin, a former Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety and Joplin Police Chief. Celebratory gunfire, the unlawful discharge of a firearm if recklessly discharged within the limits of a municipality is prohibited. In addition, the penalties are increased for the unlawful possession of a firearm. This is a very good start, but more needs to be done. I also call on the General Assembly to make state law consistent with federal law in outlawing juveniles age 17 and under from possessing a handgun. This is a common sense measure. It does not violate the Second Amendment, but, like Senate Bill 754, it puts reasoned controls in place to prevent those who should not have guns from having them. It has been a part of our City’s legislative package. Simple steps. It may take a long time, but I am hopeful.

Through it all, the men and women who have accepted the call to serve and protect the citizens of Springfield do so honorably and willingly every day. Would the members of the Springfield Police Department and the Springfield Police Officers’ Association please stand and be recognized? ((applause))

The Springfield Fire Department responded to 12,613 fire, medical emergency and hazardous situation incidents in 2023 and was nationally reaccredited for the fourth time this year – an achievement only 1% of fire departments attain.

One notable accomplishment was the addition and opening of Fire Station 13 and reconstruction of Fire Station 7, which has enhanced emergency response capabilities and ensured even greater coverage across our city.

In response to community risk and the emergency preparedness needs for specialized rescue operations, the department has expanded the Technical Rescue Team by 85% and expanded community outreach programs to include the emergency use and community distribution of Nacan leave-behind kits, furthering a commitment to saving lives and promoting public health and safety.

Springfield Firefighters empowered 12,400 students in pre-K through 5th grade with the knowledge and skills to prevent emergencies and protect themselves from the risks of fire and installed 1,077 smoke alarms through Project RED Zone.

Would the members of the Springfield Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Fighters please stand and be recognized?

The response to the City’s purchase of the ball park was immediate and incredibly positive. Ensuring that the Cardinals remained in Springfield will be one of our proudest accomplishments as Mayor and I am very grateful to my City Council colleagues and City staff for pursuing the project over the many years. As I spend time at the ball park with my grandson Andrew, who is a bat boy and high school baseball player, I am reminded of the important things in life.

In addition to concerts and new activities at Hammons Field, the City has continued to grow special events, such as the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Holiday Show, an event each November that kicks off the holiday season downtown while showcasing some of Springfield’s incredible performing artists. Entertainers like world-renowned opera star Michael Spyres participate in this special evening that some describe as a “Hallmark Christmas movie.” This year’s holiday tree was bigger and better than ever, thanks to a generous donation from the Hatch Foundation and the craftsmanship of our own Public Works department which built a custom-made Santa cabin in the middle of our town square. The holiday show was broadcast on local television thanks to a partnership with KY3. You will not want to miss what we have in the plans for 2024!

The largest Route 66 Festival in the region takes place each year the second weekend in August in downtown Springfield. A dedicated group of partners including Aaron Sachs and Associates, KY3, West Central Neighborhood Association and the City grow this car show and music festival each year. Led by organizer Cora Scott, the Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement, the signature event is part of the statewide plans for the centennial celebration of Route 66, which will take place in 2026. Congratulations to Cora for being named the chair of the statewide Missouri Route 66 Centennial Commission – a group working hard to put Missouri in the worldwide spotlight as the birthplace of the Mother Road.

There are plenty of outdoor opportunities to enjoy in Springfield and efforts like Celebrate Springfield organized by Erin Danastasio and the Hatch Foundation are making it easier than ever to be a part of your local community. I encourage you to learn more, attend an event, join a club or organization and if you do not find one you like, create one!

Springfield is fortunate to have a nationally recognized parks system that provides not only the opportunity for recreation, but also serves as an economic catalyst, bringing in millions of dollars through sporting events. This year saw significant progress in major upgrades to our Cooper Sports Complex – enhancements made possible by a combination of City of Springfield, Park Board, Convention and Visitors Bureau, state and federal funding sources totalling nearly $30 million dollars.

Best-selling author and national expert on leadership John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. I want to thank and recognize my fellow members of City Council and if you would please hold your applause until we have recognized all eight members. Council members, please stand when your name is called.

Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Simpson; Heather Hardinger - General Seat A; Craig Hosmer - General Seat B; Callie Carroll - General Seat C; Derek Lee - General Seat D; Monica Horton - Zone 1; Abe McGull - Zone 2 Brandon Jenson - Zone 3. Would you please join me in recognizing this fine group of leaders.

Springfield has a Council-Manager form of government. The administrative needs and challenges are many. The City of Springfield is run by a superb professional staff led by City Manager Jason Gage and Deputy City Managers Collin Quigley and Maurice Jones. I have the privilege with working with our City Manager daily and can assure you …... Springfield is indeed fortunate to have him at the helm. Jason, Collin and Maurice - will you please stand and be recognized?

More than two dozen department heads run the day-to-day operations of the City, and their service and dedication remains strong, often in thankless situations. Please join me in thanking our City Leadership Team as they stand.

Our esteemed colleagues at Greene County are great partners and collaborators. Thank you Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon and Associate Commissioners Rusty Maclachlin and John Russell. Please stand and be recognized, representing the elected officials and staff at Greene County.

I would like to take a few moments to thank Senator Lincoln Hough and our state legislative delegation. Senator Hough continued to deliver for Southwest Missouri, and indeed the entire state of Missouri again this year as Missouri’s Senate Appropriations Chair. His collaborative work will reverberate for generations to come – throughout the entire state of Missouri. Thank you, my friend. ((applause))

In April, City voters approved a change to the City’s charter granting the Mayor a four-year term. I believe this was a wise move and will aid my successors in better carrying out their leadership role. Let me also suggest for future consideration: two additional charter changes.

Remove the Mayor as a voting member of City Council and give the Mayor veto authority over Council actions. Under this proposal, the Mayor would preside over council meetings, vote only in the case of a tie, but then be tasked with signing or vetoing actions of Council. A veto could be overridden by a super majority. Many cities in Missouri have such a provision and I believe it would prove to be beneficial.

Institute a small level of pay for the Mayor and City Council. Currently, the Mayor receives $200 per month, while Council is paid nothing. While these are volunteer positions, they are increasingly time consuming and personally expensive. This limits the ability of less resourced individuals to run for office. For purposes of discussion, I would suggest that the Mayor be paid $10,000 annually and Council members $7,500. A review of Missouri cities both large and small shows that some level of pay appears to be the rule, rather than the exception.

I believe it is time for these measures to be considered.

This month marks 50 years since I began my career in public service. On June 3, 1974, I joined the newly created staff of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee – beginning a lifelong journey of service I never could have scripted – time spent working for the General Assembly and Missouri Department of Economic Development gave me tools and skill sets which have served me throughout my career. Seven and one half years on the Missouri Public Service Commission taught me the value of needed utility infrastructure and service at fair and reasonable prices. This skill was honed by years of service as Associate General Manager at City Utilities.

Governor Matt Blunt entrusted me with being his transition director and Chief of Staff. A distinct highlight of his administration was the passage in 2005 of the name change for Missouri State University. Time spent later as a Vice President at Missouri State gave me needed exposure to public higher education, including time in the classroom.

The honor of my lifetime, though, has been the trust and confidence placed in me by the voters of Springfield. I have been on the ballot five times – once for Council and four times as Mayor, since 2015. I would not trade the experiences, both good and bad, for anything. I have done my best and am so grateful for the opportunity.

So, in April 2025, I will close a career of over 50 years. My successes are only because of a strong, supportive and loving family. My wife of 36 years, Joey, passed away in 2011. I often joke that she is in heaven saying “see what happens when I am not there to keep you from doing foolish things like running for office!” Joey was the anchor of our family.

My daughters, Jenny and Allison, and their husbands Mark and Dave, are incredibly successful in their chosen professions and they are very protective of me. My grandkids, Andrew, Becca, Eric and Ada, are all developing into extraordinary young people. Their mom and grandmother would be extremely proud.

As I conclude my comments here today, I would like for you to think about ways you can show children that their lives are important by providing them with love, support and positive reinforcement. By actively listening to them, valuing their opinions, and encouraging their dreams and aspirations, we can all help them develop a strong sense of self-worth.

It is also important to teach them about empathy, kindness, and respect for others, so they understand the value of every individual’s life. Lastly, let’s create safe and nurturing environments, both at home and in the community, to reinforce the message that their lives are important and deserve protection. Each of us can start now, in our own lives, by strengthening our connections and relationships. Demonstrating empathy and concern for others and a willingness to get into the arena goes a long way.

In the words of President Theodore Roosevelt,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Thank you and may God bless the City of Springfield.

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