Thursday, March 10, 2011

Florissant Mayoral Debates - Some Thoughts

As a North County resident, I felt it was important to attend the Florissant mayoral debates last night. My father has long said that Florissant is the anchor of North County and I tend to believe him. With Florissant's population base and size, Florissant is the largest city in St. Louis county. Considering all of this, I decided to attend this event to see what the candidates had to say and what direction they wanted to take for the future of Florissant. Afterwards, I hung out on the sidelines and listened to what people were saying to each other and to the candidates. Below is some of my observations.

Tom Schneider:

Of all the candidates, this is the man that best represents the status quo. He did nothing but talk about all of the things he has done in the past and all of his accomplishments. He looked to the past and really exemplified sticking with the current course.

After the meeting, most of the talk I heard was that people were not overly impressed with him. He did nothing but read and re-read a laundry list of his past accomplishments from his 34 years of work for the Florissant government. Best comment I heard on Tom was "Is he going to answer the questions or just tell us all he has done for the city?"

With that said, many of the seniors seemed to like Schneider. He is a known name and will continue to offer what they have grown accustomed to.

Andrew Podleski :

Podleski has a lot of good answers, but comes off as rather arrogant. He seems pro business and wants to work with business to bring more people into the area. Based upon what he said, he wants to promote the affordability of North County and Florissant to big businesses that are in the North County area so that their employees will live and work here. This would then help stimulate small business growth as their is a more vibrant population.

After the meeting a lot of people were high on Podleski. Since he ran against Lowry last election, his name is out there and it is recognizable outside of his ward. He has a strong service background and seems to be more of a fiscal minded. Many of those same people, though, said they got a negative vibe from him. One person said that they thought he was smug.

Susan Geerling :

Geerling could be the dark horse for this entire race. She came off as very friendly,sincere and approachable. Here big themes of the night were fiscal responsibility and open communication between the government and the people. Many times she talked of making people aware of what is going on and happening
so residents can be informed. She made an early splash by talking about reducing the mayor's salary and perks (a hot topic after the St. Louis Post Dispatch investigative article on Lowery).

After the meeting, a lot of people were very high on Geerling. They liked what she had to say and felt she could be bring about a new direction for the community. Interestingly enough, the people that liked her the most seemed to be women and those under the age of 55. The older community did not seem to be as on board with her. The knock against her is her experience as she does not have a college degree and seeing as Florissant has a strong mayor system, the mayor is in charge of city administration. Some people saw it as a positive and other saw this as a negative, but there were comments on how she is not an established name, she worked 8 years in city council and has volunteered, but is not someone super entrenched in Florissant politics.

Robert Garrett:

Of all the candidates, Garrett is probably the biggest fiscal conservative of the bunch. Bringing in business and balancing the budget were his biggest points of the night and they were points he continued to repeat. While Schneider touted being a small business owner, Garrett and Behlmann came of as the only two that really seemed to know and could talk to business and business creation. Garrett also sees the problem facing Florissant as being associated with the issues and violence in North City and areas like Berkley and Normandy. This was a strong statement that I noticed a lot of head nodding too.

After the meeting, a lot of people did not seem to know what to think about Garrett. He has been out of Florissant politics for awhile, but is now re-entering the field. He does not have yard signs and does not have any information out there that anyone could really find. Many people liked what they heard, but want to know more.

Mark Behlmann:

Second only to Schneider, Behlmann was probably the best known name at the debate. Behlmann brought a mix of the status quo and business know how that appealed to many people. He came off as a fiscal hawk when talking about budgets, mayoral perks and pay but came off as a status quo person when talking of city programs.

After the meeting, reviews were mixed on Behlmann. People know the name in the Florissant area and they know of Mark Behlmann due to his work on the Hazelwood School Board. That seemed to be both a good and bad thing for him. He did upset some people as after the debate, a couple of senior citizens approached Behlman and while I could not hear the conversation, there were some read faces and very upset people.

Michael Spreng:

Spreng was the most unprepared candidate. He brought nothing new to the debate and really seemed to rest on his laurels as a state rep. He did not appear to be engaged in the discussion nor did he appear alert. He seemed to flip flop between keeping the status quo and fiscal conservatism depending upon the issue, but did not have much substance.

No one, and I mean no one, talked positively about Spreng. Based upon the audience, he is, for all purposes,a non issue. One of the best comments I overheard on Spreng was," I am not going to vote for another guy that looks like he could drop dead a couple of days after winning."

So, what are my thoughts. Well, Florissant has done some good things with programs like the Cross Keys development and improvements in the roads and parks. That said, there are a lot of things that need to be improved as there are too many used car lots and vacant businesses in the area. People are not staying in Florissant and instead they are moving to St. Peters and Wentzville areas. The next mayor has to be able to attract more youth as more younger couples and families will bring more money and small business to the area. If I had to be pressed, I would say that Behlmann, Garrett and Geerling probably came away with the highest marks. Having lived in Florissant, though, I know the seniors will really sway this election which can really help Schneider.

It is my understanding that there will be another debate soon. When I know more, I will
post it here.

So, were you there, if so, comment with your thoughts.


I received requests for websites and email addresses. These have been added below

Name - Website - Email Address
Tom Schneider - -
Andrew Podleski - -
Susan Geerling - -
Robert Garrett - No webpage but you can find him on Facebook -
Mark Behlmann - -
Michael Spreng - No website or Facebook page - No updated email address


Anonymous said...

Good job on the review. My favorite is Garrett. I thought his answers were consise and well thought out. I would like to see what Mark Behlman would say when asked about his interaction with Elliot Davis about sending so many people from Hazelwood to Vegas on a junket.

Anonymous said...

Middle Class Joe is a real misnomer. This website appears to be owened by a Tea Party right winger who wants nothing more than get rid of anyone in North County politics who is pro-labor, pro-education, pro-have-a-mind-of-one's-own.

Be careful whom you favor in this election because your future is at stake. Remember Wisconsin! Missouri legislators are now pushing for "right to work" (at lowest wages of course). It would benefit those right wingers if a large city like Florissant can be taken over by their cronies. I imagine Joe doesn't even live in Florissant, just like at least one of the mayoral candidates Joe likes.

Middle Class Joe said...

I have never said that I live or do not live in Florissant. What I have said is that as I see it, as goes Florissant, so does North County. My blog is on things I like and on the First District. Because of this, I am following the election. Much like the Congressional race, I was open to input from the Democratics and Republicans running agains Lacy Clay. I want North County to flourish as it once did. I do not see why you are so concerned about my blog. I presented information based upon what I heard and what I overheard from conversations. That is all. I have not supported a candidate in any fashion. That is why I have reached out to the candidates to interview them.

Do I have my fears and concerns, yes, but of all things I want an educated voter populace. It seems that there are those out there that do NOT want the people of Florissant to be educated. Instead, they want mindless sheep who will vote pro-senior, pro-labor, pro-low tax without looking at all of the issues and making a determination. There should be no one issue that can determine how we should vote. It should be a matter of all the issues and how a candidate has acted and will act. That is what I want to find out and present. If you have a problem with that, tough. Start your own blog, make a presence for yourself and do whatever you can.

Anonymous said...

I attended the Ferguson mayoral debate. All three seemed genuinely interested in the town, the people, etc...
I felt one had his head in the clouds and when one community member spoke of a problem in her community, his response was as if he almost didn't believe her, or as if were such an anomaly it were a non-issue. He didn't see the nods of approval across the room I saw.
Another seemed to be living in the past. I wasn't entirely sure where he would go in the future with the town.
The third, I've had problems with follow through, as have others,(returning calls/e-mails; following up on requests made to the city council through him) but had the best plan and I think has the best strategy for the town.

Anonymous said...