Patch sat down with Crestwood's first female city administrator to discuss her new role. An Affton High School graduate, Eastman received a master's degree in city planning from the University of California-Berkeley and her doctorate in law from Saint Louis University. The Crestwood Board of Alderman last week voted unanimously to waive the ciry residency requirement for Eastman, who lives in University City.
Patch: Why did you apply for the city administrator job specifically in Crestwood?
Eastman: I wanted to stay in the St. Louis area and given that constraint I was looking at various cities that were looking for a city manager and Crestwood seemed like a perfect place for me. It’s sufficiently large enough to be interesting and I grew up in the area. I have a lot of fond memories of Crestwood and I thought my skills would match well with Crestwood.
Patch: What does a city administrator do that is say, different from a public services director?
Eastman: In a city that has a city manager it is a form of government similar to say the City of St. Louis having a mayor. The city manager is the CEO of the corporation so to speak. The city administrator is subject to acceptance, appointment and removal by the Board of Aldermen much like the board of directors would hire their CEO of a company. The public services director is in charge of the public works projects, all the parks, etc., and I will be supervising him. I also supervise police, fire, clerks office and finance. That’s all that falls under me in the scheme of an organizational chart. It’s not an elected or political position.
Patch: What are the main issues in Crestwood that you see off the bat that you want to tackle as city administrator?
Eastman: There’s a couple of things at the top of the list. Even though we are running in the black as most cities in the area, our expenses are going to outpace our revenue. If the economy sees decline, that means less revenue for the city and we can do less things that we want to do here. In the past years there has been a lot of constriction in terms of our staff here and it’s almost a skeleton staff so there is not a lot more cutting we can do. Our costs are going up—Ameren UE, health insurance. It is getting harder for us to do even the basic services. The challenge this year and the next is to get Crestwood Mall redeveloped in some fashion. That is in the works, which will hopefully provide some revenue via sales tax and the development of course will bring in other businesses into the city as well. Your day-to-day operations also are a constant issue. How do we get the streets paved according to the plans that were already made? The budget and our fiscal health is at the top of the rung. Getting employees reasonable raises also is at the top of the list.
Patch: You are Crestwood’s first female city administrator. What does it mean to you to pave that sort of path?
Eastman: I think it’s really exciting. There’s only a handful of women city administrators and it’s the wave of the future. I just think it’s a testament to the enlightened Board of Aldermen and them being open to that sort of idea and being very accepting. I’m all about doing the business and being a female is not even relevant as far as I’m concerned, but If I’m a role model to others I think it’s great and I take that very seriously. Other women can see that this is possible.
Patch: What is the one item in life you couldn’t live without, or would take with you to the proverbial deserted island?
Eastman: My family. I don’t have a big family. We’d have to figure out who is boss once we got on the island though.