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Missing Crestwood Debate Participants Sparks Controversy

Mary Stadter (Ward 2) and Dan Tennessen (Ward 4) stepped back due to alleged debate moderator bias.

Crestwood’s Board of Aldermen candidate debate turned into a question and answer session Monday night, as two of the four candidates bowed out via email and a Letter to the Editor Sunday night.

Mary Stadter, who was reached via phone on Sunday, said that she noticed signs supporting her opposition in a moderator's yard. Both candidates agreed that the moderator of the debate should be “reasonably neutral.” 

Debate moderator Tom Ford addressed the audience prior to the newly formatted question and answer session.

“We have had two candidates who have decided not to participate in the debate,” Ford said. “They chose to back out at 5:28 and 7:02 p.m. last night when I received the emails respectively, and I will leave it to you to form your own conclusions. I don’t have anything else to say about it and I don’t think any of the other moderators do either."

Jackie Stock and Roger Anderson also served as moderators.

Audience member Dr. David Brophy posed the first question to candidates Steve Nieder and Tim Trueblood.

“I had hoped to have an answer from all the participants in the forum including Ms. Stadter and Mr. Tennessen,” he said.

Brophy: Institutional memory can play an important role in the functioning of the Board of Aldermen and I might add at this time one of the things is sadly lacking. Can you give me reasons as to how you can provide better institutional memory than your opponent can? Institutional memory is what has gone on over time in terms of rulings, precedence, legislature that has passed, how rules have been decided, how closely the city charger has been observed.

Nieder: I think that we just follow the rules that are set out by the charter.

Trueblood: I’m older and was on the board for 13 years and that doesn’t mean a lot unless you realized during the 13 years we developed a charter. There comes with that institutional memory knowledge that sets the precedent. We’ve lost that because we’ve had a period of disagreement and turnover, which isn’t a bad thing, but we’ve lost a bit of who we were. It’s been six years since I’ve served in office but I’ve kept in touch.

Brophy: I was a member of the charter review commission and I’m very concerned with the city charter. Should the city charter be interpreted and applied literally or by the lone interpretation of the city attorney?

Nieder: If you follow the rules that are put in there by the charter, how can you go wrong? If someone says it’s incorrect you can take it to the judicial court. If the people don’t like what happened they can vote you out; if the right entity doesn’t like it they can challenge it in court.

Trueblood: When you take office you have to take the charter as it’s written. It can be amended by the citizens and can be changed. I would suggest that’s the proper methodology.

Brophy: What is your position on conducting Board of Aldermen meetings with Robert’s Rules of Order?

Trueblood: 100 percent for it. The power of a meeting then becomes the board. To drift away from that leads to chaos. It may not be the most perfect rules but I think they should be the ones that apply. The board has a right to say we have a full house and each person is allowed two minutes to speak.

Nieder: I totally agree. A lot of those rules of order are automatically being followed. It is a lot less contentious amongst board members and the public. You will also find as a result of the organization of the meeting there is a lot more done in a much shorter period of time.

Brophy then made a statement regarding and the likely renovation as an entertainment place or a retail establishment.

“I’m a senior citizen as are a lot of people in Crestwood and certainly there’s times we want entertainment. I think the facility should be looked at as attracting a community,” he said. “Kind of like a wedding. It’s a family affair in which everybody has got its place in terms of entertainment.”

Nieder: I don’t disagree that may or may not work. Crestwood doesn’t own the property or control the property. It’s up to owners on what to do. Eventually they will come to us with some sort of proposal. That’s really the only input we would have. If I was elected you can be sure I would be looking for a win-win situation—not just giving them all the money and not asking for responsibility on their side.

Trueblood: Steve’s right in the sense that we don’t have the power as in what is in the stores. What the city can say as how much money they can get from us as far as giving business in our territory. It’s not just one governance that’s affected; it’s our schools as well.

An audience member then asked a question, again bringing up the fact that two candidates were absent from the debate.

“Speaking of institutional memory, did you pick and choose which meetings you would come to based on which meetings were easy or hard?” she said.

Trueblood: We don’t pick and choose—we pick the job knowing what the hours are. I feel I owe it to my fellow neighbors to represent them. It’s part of the job; it’s not a glamorous job, either we make the cut or we don’t. To run away from it is incomprehensible. Once you take the oath of office you take all the fights. I don’t know why my opponents aren’t here. But I think they missed a golden opportunity to grow from it and get a feel from what the job entails. It’s their loss.

Nieder: We’re serving the city. I’m not trying to do this in self-interest, believe me. I want to try to implement good ideas even if I’m not elected. As of April we have no debt; we are completely deleveraged. That is huge. I challenge any other city to say they can do that.


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