Excelsior Citizen

Citizen driven news for Excelsior Springs, MO

City Council and School Board Have Contested Races: Meet the Candidates

Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by S Jason Cole

Meet the Candidates

The last day of Candidate Filing for the April 2023 Municipal Election closed on December 17, 2022. There are contested races in all of Excelsior Springs’ races, including Excelsior Springs City Council, and Excelsior Springs School Board. Four individuals are seeking positions as Wood Heights Alderman, and the Wood Heights Mayor’s race is uncontested. We have reached out to the candidates with some questions in an effort to help you learn more about those who are running to serve you.

In addition to this feature, we will be hosting a Candidate Meet and Greet at Excelsior Roasting Co., 2300 Vintage Ct., on Saturday, February 18th, from 10:00am to 12:00pm. There you will be able to visit personally with each of the candidates on the ballot. In addition to the candidates, there will be a representative from the school district present to discuss Proposition Lewis, as well as Clay County Election Board representatives to register citizens to vote.

What about Proposition Lewis? What about the Public Safety Sales Tax? Don’t worry, ballot initiatives and propositions will be covered in upcoming articles and we will publish a full voter’s guide before the April 4th election.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Last Day to Register to Vote: March 8, 2023
Last Date for Write-In Candidates to file: March 24, 2023
In-Person Absentee Voting: February 21, 2023
No Excuse, In-Person Absentee Voting begins: March 21, 2023 (voting prior to this date requires voter to declare a reason)
Last Day to request Absentee Ballot by Mail: March 22, 2023
Military & Overseas Portal opens: February 11, 2023
Last Day for Military or Overseas to request Absentee Ballot: March 31, 2023
Election Day: April 4, 2023 – Polls open at 6:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM

Jump to categories:
Excelsior Springs City Council Candidates
Excelsior Springs School Board Candidates
Wood Heights Mayor
Wood Heights Aldermen


Excelsior Springs City Council (2 seats open)

*candidates presented in alphabetical order by last name

Malachi

Malachi Luevano

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

I am a husband and father; I have lived in Excelsior Springs for four or so years now. Work brought me to the Kansas City area. As for a personal connection to Excelsior Springs, I live here, go to church here, and I raise some livestock just outside of town.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve on the Excelsior Springs City Council?

It’s a nice place to live, but I’d like to review city ordinances and see which of them would be wise to reconsider to increase our mutual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In what ways have you previously served as a leader in Excelsior Springs? Be sure to list any previous elected positions, boards, or commissions you have served on.  

I’m just an average joe, who works his 9-5 and has a healthy distaste of government. I do what I can to live out Matthew 25:31-46 and Isaiah 58. In short, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as I have ability.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the City of Excelsior Springs, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Incoming economic disaster from poor national level decision making. I want to see Excelsior Springs deregulate some of its city ordinances to allow for more minor agriculture in town, strategically placed communal gardens set up throughout town to ease the burden of food costs on our local populace, create classes at the community center on some seemingly forgotten practices such as canning, soap making, etc., etc.

What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well and how can you help continue to make improvements?

It’s a nice place to live, but I’d like to review city ordinances and see which of them would be wise to reconsider to increase our mutual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If you are elected, what are some things you think you can realistically accomplish as a city councilperson to improve the city?

I can vote no on things I view as government overreach and encourage that we foster a culture of valuing the American tradition of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What would you like to see happen with the Hall of Waters? Is its existence relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs?

It has historic value and currently houses the seat of local government as well as a local museum. This is a decent role for it at present. I don’t think it’s ever going to be reopened as its original function, and Lord knows the expenses and red tape to do so would make it unworthwhile.

Excelsior Springs is a City Manager form of government with a professional staff. What do you think the role of a council member should be in this form of government?

From what I have read on the subject, City Council and Mayor have the authority to set policy while the professional staff accomplish that policy. If I remember correctly, this form of government was widely adopted in the 20th century as a means of combating local corruption. Outside of general distaste for government, I have not aught against this form of government. 


Gary Renne, Candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

Gary Renne

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

I’ve been a lifelong resident of Excelsior Springs.  I graduated from ESHS, married Anita (Walters) Renne (which we are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this year) and moved to Ft. Wayne, IN where I attended college.  We have two successful sons, Noah and Jeremiah.  They are married to wonderful ladies who are school teachers.  We have three grandchildren.  One of my sons is a lieutenant for the ESPD and his wife is the art teacher at ESHS.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve on the Excelsior Springs City Council?

I believe my background and experience as a director, pastor, school administrator, retail manager and self-starter will serve me well as a Council member for our city.  I have worked together with city managers, chamber of commerce directors, school officials, civic leaders and pastors to successfully reach common goals for the past 40 years.  For the past 50 years I have served the people of Excelsior Springs in such a way as to meet their needs and bless all those I’ve served.

In what ways have you previously served as a leader in Excelsior Springs? Be sure to list any previous elected positions, boards, or commissions you have served on.  

Most recently, I serve on the Thrive Excelsior committee.  I have served a 3 yr. term for the city on the Capital Improvements Board.  I am currently the trolley manager for the Excelsior Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as serving on the trolley committee and the Waterfest committee (30 yrs.).  I served on the Community Advisory Board (10 yrs.), president of the Excelsior Springs Ministerial Assc. (8 yrs.).  I have served in leadership roles in the church for 45 years.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the City of Excelsior Springs, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Some of the current primary challenges that I see for our city is to become self sufficient again. What I mean by that is there was a time in our past when everything we needed was within our city limits.  We had an ample amount of restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry stores, movie theatres, roller skating rinks, public transportation, hardware and lumber yards, etc.  Today way too much of potential business goes out of town to other communities.  This creates a quality-of-life problem for our citizens as well as a lack of tax revenue for our city which in turn feeds back to what the city is able to provide.  Since what we do have; has mostly moved to the west side, the downtown area residents are at a disadvantage from groceries, banking, health care and pharmacies ( per Thrive Excelsior research).  To address these needs I would assist in pursuing companies, businesses and entrepreneurs to locate in Excelsior.  Concerning the wonderful upswing in the hospitality service our city offers as we’ve drawn many out-of-town guests every week, we would need to address the areas we lack.  Excelsior Springs has become a true wedding destination by design but we still have a need for local lodging, catering services, DJ services, photography, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.  There is plenty of room for new business

What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well and how can you help continue to make improvements?

In the past 20 years as an Excelsior resident, I believe our city has done a great job of restoring and revitalizing our community.  The infrastructure of streets, sewer/water, curbing is the best it has ever been.  Our Parks & Rec. Dept. has added much (community center, new parks, programs and walking trails) and has maintained our parks and green spaces in a superb way.  Our police and fire departments are in great shape.  The hospital and golf course have continued to improve to a place of civic pride.  Our school district continues to shine with the finest of facilities and staff.  Our Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Excelsior Partnership (DEP) are bringing much as they each implement their Community Improvement District (CID) funding to transform our business community both on the westside and  downtown.  All of these I have mentioned are connected to the government of the City of Excelsior Springs.  I had a meeting with a former City Manager of Excelsior once and he said he believed our city was at a “critical tipping point”.   He was right, and our city has tipped from being a city where “just enough . . .” has truly transitioned to being a “Community of Excellence”.

If you are elected, what are some things you think you can realistically accomplish as a city councilperson to improve the city?

If I am elected, I will listen carefully to our citizens, leaders and city staff and do my best to offer assistance, as well as ask hard questions and challenge the direction and thoughts of others. I would do all I could to bring in new business and strengthen existing business.  I would like to create incentives and remove roadblocks from progress and growth.  I believe I can continue in positive efforts to set policy to improve and make our city a “Community of Excellence.”

What would you like to see happen with the Hall of Waters? Is its existence relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs?

The one area that has concerned all of us is the future and condition of the Hall of Waters.  Although it is unreasonable to repair and maintain such a large facility for just a few city offices and a small amount of employees; the Hall of Waters is the centerpiece of our community and the true point of history for our city.  I would like to see the necessary repairs made (with the help of grants for preserving historic landmarks) and then lease out portions of the building for a possible restaurant, spa, gift shop and transform the former pool area into a ballroom/large event venue and relocate the city offices.  I realize the magnitude of such an endeavor but I am sure it could get done. 

Excelsior Springs is a City Manager form of government with a professional staff. What do you think the role of a council member should be in this form of government?

In closing, I love our town.  The City Manager/professional staff /Mayor & City Council style of government is good and right for our city (we were the first city in Missouri to institute this style in 1921).  If you know me, you know that I am a team player that usually works behind the scenes and does more at getting things done and complete than talk or complain.  Please consider me as your next City Council representative.  Thank you!


Jim Rice candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

Jim Rice

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

My name is Jim Rice and I have been a resident of Excelsior Springs since August 1981. I have two daughters who both graduated from Excelsior Springs High School. Not only have I lived here but I have worked and served here all of my adult life. I worked for Gilmour Manufacturing from 1981 to 2003. I had my own handyman and excavation company from 2003 to 2005. In January 2005, I started Jim Rice Insurance.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve on the Excelsior Springs City Council?

In my younger years, I was active in recreational youth soccer as a coach and official. I have been a long-time member of the Excelsior Springs LIONS Club and a current Mason. I love the community, its history, and its people. I am in season of life I can commit the time to better the community.

In what ways have you previously served as a leader in Excelsior Springs? Be sure to list any previous elected positions, boards, or commissions you have served on.  

I served as a Parks and Recreation board member in the mid-’90s and served as the Board Vice President twice. I was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Board in 2010. I served on the Waterfest Committee for two years and, with a team of individuals, helped bring back the fireworks display. I have served on the LIONS Club board and Secretary, Treasurer and President twice. Currently I am the Secretary of the Clay Lodge #207.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the City of Excelsior Springs, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

I feel proper planning for future growth is our biggest challenge. In any business, you look for opportunities for growth. The City is no different. It appears the growth of the City has slowed and this stagnation has put a greater burden on our citizens by not allowing costs to be distributed over a larger population base. Growth will be inevitable so we need to plan where and how we want to grow. What will be the best solution for our City and how will it affect the culture of our town? This also comes into question the growth of businesses and new commercial growth. I feel the steps taken to grow my own business and other business ventures I have been a part of has given me the knowledge and experience needed to join a team to combat these challenges.

What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well and how can you help continue to make improvements?

I think the City if doing a great job of planning events to bring our community together. these have also been a great opportunity to assist our local businesses, especially in our downtown historic area.

Currently, the City recognizes the need for improvements in our infrastructure and taking great steps to make those improvements with the RAISE grant. There is a need for sidewalks near our new elementary school and other areas around the community due to the additional foot traffic. While I am sure there have been many needs addressed and monies already allocated, there are probably areas that may have been overlooked. I would like to join the City Council so we can collaborate together, address our most critical needs and prioritize the spending.

If you are elected, what are some things you think you can realistically accomplish as a city councilperson to improve the city?

In conversations I have had I get a sense the people want a more open and transparent government. I want to deliver on that. I want people to feel free to approach me to get an honest answer to questions and concerns. One the other side of that sometimes people just want to be heard. I will listen. While I don’t currently feel a cloud of secrecy or deception from the current council or the administration, we can always strive to do better. If elected, I will represent the citizens of Excelsior Springs in an open and honest manner, always keeping the greater overall good in mind.

What would you like to see happen with the Hall of Waters? Is its existence relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs?

The Hall of Waters is extremely relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs. The Hall of Waters is one of the two significant historical structures in the rich history of Excelsior Springs. I would personally like to see the main floor opened up and utilized for more community use and activities. Lyndsey Baxter does an amazing job with creating events for the downtown and bringing tourists into our community. We need to continue marketing our events to showcase our town and its history. I would also like to see the pool areas used for activities and events.

Excelsior Springs is a City Manager form of government with a professional staff. What do you think the role of a council member should be in this form of government?

The role of the City Council is oversight! The city manager is tasked with the day-to-day, administrative operations of the city and staff. The Council maintains the policy, budgets, and oversees general administration. The council’s responsibilities are the checks and balances for the citizens.


Kristi Shewell, candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

Kristi Shewell

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

My name is Kristi Shewell. I have lived in Excelsior Springs since 1997. We raised our family here and now 2 of our children continue to live here and raise their families.  We support as many local businesses as possible when we can.  Most recently we purchased the renovated old Aldrich Boarding House at 407 E. Broadway in the historic boarding house district.  We believe in the vision for revitalizing this area.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve on the Excelsior Springs City Council?

I have experience in finance, different facets of city government, working with larger budgets and volunteering for several committees and opportunities in this city.  I have served on the Excelsior Springs School Board, giving me the ability to work within a group environment with a board of diverse members working for the greater good. 

In what ways have you previously served as a leader in Excelsior Springs? Be sure to list any previous elected positions, boards, or commissions you have served on.  

I have been a member of the former Kiwanis Club in Excelsior Springs, serving several positions including President.  I was elected and served on the Excelsior Springs School Board for 3 terms. I have been a member of the Slightly Off Broadway Theatre Board of Directors for over 2 decades and have served as secretary, treasurer, vice president, and currently as president of that board. I have worked on several ballot issue committees. 

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the City of Excelsior Springs, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Balancing the budget is difficult for small communities. We have to find creative ways to address our biggest needs in a way that provides funding without creating hardships for our citizens. City staff continues to  work hard to find grants that allow us to accomplish more without using just city funds. The RAISE grant is one way. Eighty percent of the funds for the roadway and sidewalk improvements in the grant are coming from Federal funds with the City match being just 20 percent of the entire project cost. The sidewalks around our new schools are needed to make sure children are safe when walking to and from school and the community center.

Addressing the flooding in our downtown is another way we can help residents and businesses. The City is completing a study which will help identify ways to address and reduce the flooding and they have gotten their first grant to help with that effort. 

The Parks Department is continuing to expand to offer services to our community. The free Splash Park was a great addition and the new outdoor pool that will open this summer will be very exciting. Fundraising plans are also underway through the Piccadilly Galas for an all inclusive playground park for all levels of abilities in children.

What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well and how can you help continue to make improvements?

I think they have been doing a better job of engaging the community to find solutions. The City has held listening sessions, started a leadership program and started the THRIVE program to find ways to address issues we face as a community such as addressing the health needs, finding new ways to help grow the economic base in our community or ways our citizens can become stronger entrepreneurs and addressing our housing needs.

City Council has just approved a new housing project that will have 24 new rental units, and the Missouri Housing Development Commission has approved an affordable housing project that will create 40 new units for senior housing with some market rate housing. 

If you are elected, what are some things you think you can realistically accomplish as a city councilperson to improve the city?

The City Council has set goals. We must continue to build on these goals of financial resiliency, by maintaining adequate cash reserves; competitive salary and benefits by continuing to hire and retain quality employees, and also continue to keep our salaries and benefits in line with neighboring municipalities;  marketability by continuing to promote our city in a positive fashion, continuing to address the blighted areas, and improve our curb appeal; protecting capital assets by continuous improvement on buildings, grounds, water, sewer, storm water & streets; and maintain and consistent level of customer service by streamlining and improving problem solving making a better outcome of community member’s experiences within the city. 

What would you like to see happen with the Hall of Waters? Is its existence relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs?

I feel the Hall of Waters is an Important part of downtown and our tourism efforts, which is one of our largest industries. We must find ways to refurbish the Hall and find new ways to use the building. It should be so much more than City Hall.

Excelsior Springs is a City Manager form of government with a professional staff. What do you think the role of a council member should be in this form of government?

The role of the council members is to enforce the laws and ordinances of the city. A council member’s responsibility is to represent and advocate for the good of the community in the region, work to understand the needs of the community by listening to residents and understanding the information that staff is sharing to assist in making decisions. It is also to help find ways to grow our community and address our needs for the future.


Reggie St. John, candidate for Excelsior Springs City Council

Reggie St. John

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

I’m Reggie St. John, 68 years old, and a lifelong resident of Excelsior Springs.  My wife, Kathy, and I have one daughter, Sarah who lives in Kansas City North with her husband and two children.  I retired in January, 2022 from Butler Manufacturing Co / BlueScope Construction, Inc. after 41 plus years.  This has allowed me to focus on volunteer opportunities with Excelsior Springs and my church.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve on the Excelsior Springs City Council?

The combination of work experience and serving on various city boards have given me the ability to work with others, solve problems and create solutions with a win-win outcome for those involved.

During my working career, I started as an engineering technician and finished as a project manager with a time as technical services coordinator supervising up to 32 technicians.  I also had the opportunity to serve on the advisory committee of a community college in western Iowa, as well as recruit engineering technicians for the company.  Other duties I volunteered for included training Butler Builder personnel and new employees to BlueScope North America.  

In what ways have you previously served as a leader in Excelsior Springs? Be sure to list any previous elected positions, boards, or commissions you have served on.  

I currently serve on the Parks and Rec board as Vice-President and in the past as President.  Other current positions include: member of the Capital Improvement Authority, Hall of Waters Steering Committee, Thrive Excelsior Engagement Taskforce and Thrive Excelsior Steering Team.  In the past I have served on the Historic Preservation Commission and completed the unexpired term of a City Council member.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the City of Excelsior Springs, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Infrastructure will always be a challenge for a city which has existed as long as Excelsior Springs.  One of the things I have learned through my career is that different areas have unique needs and require unique solutions.  The City has been fortunate to receive a number of grants recently that can help meet those needs.  As a member of the City Council, it is important to maintain oversight of spending to ensure the funds are used in the most efficient way while still meeting the requirements and restrictions of the grants.

Another challenging area is the health of our citizens and its long-term effects.  Please see the answer to What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well below for a more complete reply. 

What is the City of Excelsior Springs doing well and how can you help continue to make improvements?

As a member of Thrive Excelsior, the awareness of the Social Determinants of Health and their impact on the citizens of Excelsior Springs have become very evident to me.  Having attended a joint meeting of Thrive Excelsior and SAFE, I was beyond encouraged to see various entities meet together, discuss the issues and start the process of developing “health in all policies” plans to improve the quality of life and increase life span in Excelsior Springs.  Bringing multiple stakeholders together is a monumental start and one of the thing Excelsior Springs is doing well. 

If you are elected, what are some things you think you can realistically accomplish as a city councilperson to improve the city?

As a steward of the taxpayers’ funds, I would make sure they are used in the most economically way possible for meeting the various needs of the city.

Another thing I would like to explore is to establish in the downtown or eastside area some type of food market and health care facility.  The food market could be a small grocery store and the heath care facility could be a “minute clinic” type of operation.

What would you like to see happen with the Hall of Waters? Is its existence relevant to the future of Excelsior Springs?

The Hall of Waters is a one-of-a-kind, unique building that currently reflects years of deferred maintenance.  As a member of the Capital Improvement Authority, I have supported allocating funds for repairs of the building and funds needed to receive matching grants for repairs and maintenance.  Because of its historical significance it is the center piece of downtown Excelsior Springs and needs to be restored to it former glory.  That said, I would like to see the building reflect our history and possibly have use as a commercial venture, through a lease agreement, as an entertainment facility or museum.

Excelsior Springs is a City Manager form of government with a professional staff. What do you think the role of a council member should be in this form of government?

The council, as a policy-making entity through ordinances and resolutions, must work hand in hand with the city manager and the city staff.  This will require occasional discussions to work through differences to achieve what is best for the citizens of Excelsior Springs. As stated previously, the prudent allocation of funds is a priority. 


Excelsior Springs School Board (3 seats open)

*candidates presented in alphabetical order by last name

Jill Evert, candidate for Excelsior Springs School Board

Jill Evert

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

My name is Jill Evert and I grew up in Excelsior Springs.  My parents moved here when I was almost 4 years old.  I attended kindergarten at Washington School and also attended Westview, Lewis Middle School, East High School (Roosevelt), and ESHS.  I graduated in 1984.  After college graduation, I moved back to Excelsior Springs to raise my family and begin my career in teaching here. My four daughters also graduated from here and I now have grandchildren attending school in the district.  I retired from the district in 2020 after 32 and half years in education.  During my time here I taught special education, third grade, and fourth grade.  I also was an instructional coach and principal in the district.  I love my hometown and believe it is a great community to raise a family in.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve (or continue serving) on the Board of Education for the Excelsior Springs School District?

I have lived in the community most of my life and have a deep commitment and desire to ensure we have strong, great schools.  I believe if you have successful schools you help build a thriving and vibrant community.  I retired with 32 years experience in the educational system.  Most of my time was spent in the classroom as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher and a special education teacher.  Later in my career, I served as an instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal.  I currently serve as a consultant with school districts in the southwestern region of the state.  My experiences and knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and leadership have prepared me for my role to support all students and all educators.  I will say that the number 1 factor in any successful board, organization, or school are positive relationships- building them and maintaining them.  That is also one of my strengths. 

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the Excelsior Springs School District, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

I believe our district is making strides and remaining competitive with other districts in the area.  One challenge we still face is retaining teachers and classified employees in our district.  We need to ensure that our average salary for teachers is at least comparable to the state average.  As a board, we continue to look at the budget closely and seek ways to compensate staff and balance the budget.  Beginning next year, career ladder will return to the district for certified staff.  This benefits all stakeholders in the district.  Teachers will be able to earn an additional stipend for the development of plans that include activities that support students academically and socially with remedial and additional enrichment outside of the regular school day.  It will also encourage professional growth of teachers that can impact student achievement.  Another challenge the district faces is student attendance.  This was an issue before Covid and continues to be an issue.  Students have to be present at school in order to learn and achieve at high levels.  Strong achievement means strong schools.  One measure the district is taking is the creation of attendance intervention committees at each of our schools composed of certified staff.  They will meet, communicate, and collaborate with students and their families to create plans that support increased student attendance.  When students are at school more, they learn more.

What are our schools doing well and how can you personally help continue to make improvements?

Our schools continue to work on increasing student achievement.  Many of our elementary teachers are participating in LTRS training which provides training to help our young students become strong readers.  When students can read, it opens the door to high achievement in all content areas. At each of our schools, teachers are participating in professional development weekly during their collaboration time.  They are also diving deep when analyzing student data and implementing strategies to address it.  There has been a significant decrease in the number of failing grades at the middle school and high schools.  There have been changes with academic coursework with additional course offerings and electives that will be offered that encourage and motivate students with their learning and success outside of the classroom.  The board recently approved 2 additional courses of study at our career center.  Law enforcement and a physical therapy assistant program have been added which will encourage more student enrollment and make our district even stronger. Thankfully, we are able to have activities back in our schools that encourage family and parent support and participation.  Involvement of all stakeholders, especially parents, is an important piece of MSIP 6- Missouri School Improvement Program which focuses on continuous improvement of all schools.  We need to continue to support current programs that support the social and emotional well being of our students, their families, and our staff members.  As we become more aware of interventions and initiatives that can have a positive impact, we need to consider and support these positive supports.  As a board member, it is important that I remain informed and reflect on information shared in building reports monthly that detail student and staff data.  I will also ask critical questions if I need additional information.  If I am re-elected, I will also attend the MSBA conference in the fall so that I can remain educated and updated on resources to support all students and educators.

What are some goals you would like to accomplish as a school board member?

The first goal I would like to accomplish is to see that the bond issue to construct a new Lewis passes in April.  As part of our long range facility plan, voters were promised a new Lewis without raising taxes and we are in a position where we can do that.  Wording on a ballot can be confusing to any taxpayer but what the language means is vote yes and there is a new Lewis Elementary and your taxes don’t go up.  If you vote no- there is NO new Lewis Elementary and your taxes don’t go up.  Our students served in the downtown area deserve an equal playing field and this will help.  Second goal I would like to accomplish is for our board to receive the Governance Team Award.  The Governance Team Award annually recognizes school boards and their superintendent for commitment to continuous improvement through ongoing learning, regional and statewide leadership, and active participation in legislative advocacy for public schools and the students they serve.  It will take work to accomplish this and will help us grow and become an even stronger board.  If we expect excellence from our staff and students we should expect it from our board, too. Finally, I would love to see our district create a leadership institute to provide interested teachers the opportunity to develop leadership skills and experience to serve the district in future leadership positions.  The participants would meet regularly with the superintendent throughout the year, observe and support in buildings across the district, and select a district goal to support and accomplish with a plan of action.  Building future leaders will help with staff retention and support both district and building goals. 

Are there any community organizations would you like the school district to partner with in order to better serve families and students? (or discuss a current partnership you think is most beneficial).

There are many community organizations that already partner with the school district to support our students and families and we are very thankful for them.  I know in the past, our second graders received free swim lessons at the Excelsior Springs Community Center.  This was an amazing partnership that helped students learn a skill that they might not have the opportunity to do.   Many of our local businesses welcome area career students to complete internships or provide the opportunity for job shadowing.  I would love to see how we could partner with our senior citizen community.  In a previous district I worked in, interested seniors came to our buildings at regular scheduled times to read with and support students with other content areas.  They received free transportation and free lunch during their time in our school buildings.   Students and seniors both benefited by forming a bond with each other and students also received support with their academics.  I am also a huge supporter of the Watch D.O.G .S program and would love to see it implemented in our buildings. The program is for elementary and secondary school campuses.  It gives our dads and other father figures an opportunity to provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important. It also provides an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school security, reduce bullying and provide a greater sense of campus safety allowing students and teachers to focus on learning and instruction.

Do you support “Proposition Lewis?” Why or why not?

I absolutely support Proposition Lewis.  I attended school there many years ago, taught there, and served as building principal there just a few short years ago.  From experience, I can tell you that the building needs to be replaced.  Due to the age of the building, It is difficult to make repairs.  It is difficult to heat and cool with the current systems in place.  If repairs are needed, parts are either nonexistent or very expensive.  There are also many leaks in the ceiling and it is unsafe, especially around equipment that requires electricity.  While the building does have elevators, they are not always working efficiently.  We need all of our buildings to be accessible to students and their families, staff, and visitors.  While we have done our best to use it as an elementary school, it was not built for that purpose.   The architects are working with the district to also add aesthetics to the new building that complement the architectural structures of landmarks in the downtown area and respect the history of the building.  A new school will allow us to offer a smoother and safer traffic flow during arrival and dismissal of school and make it easier for patrons to reach downtown businesses.  Any work done to Lewis at this point is a band-aid or a quick fix.  We need safe and modern buildings for all students in the district.


Kenny Manley

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

My name is Kenny Manley and I am a proud supporter of anything in Excelsior Springs. My family moved here in the early 1960s. I was born and raised here all my life besides the few deployments I had in the military that took me away for a few years. 2001 ESHS graduate.  I belong to many groups in Excelsior Springs to include Chairman of the Excelsior Springs Community Foundation Board, Rotary Club, Current School Board Member, and past Planning and Zoning Committee member. I am also a local Real Estate agent based in Excelsior Springs.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve (or continue serving) on the Board of Education for the Excelsior Springs School District?

The overall past and current experience of the community helps make me the best candidate for this position. I also have 3 children in the school district and another starting in a few years. I regularly attend the school events and always chatting with the teachers within the district to get ideas and such. 

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the Excelsior Springs School District, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Primary changes at this time will be on this years ballot. We would like to continue with what was promised a few years back and that would be to build a new elementary school where Lewis Elementary currently lies. Voting to build the school will not raise taxes. The voting is just to move funds from 1 account to the other so we can use the money to build the school. Simple enough. Our kids are our future and they need a bright new building to exercise their brains and enjoy their friends and teachers daily. 

What are our schools doing well and how can you personally help continue to make improvements?

We are working on many things within the school district. Attendance, curriculum, new classes to offer at the career center, and many more. I am really proud of the current staff we have within our district. So much talent and love for the kids. I like to think my relationships with the staff/teachers helps me to make improvements within the board or to bring light on issues good or bad. 

What are some goals you would like to accomplish as a school board member?

Goals: Excelsior Springs to pass a vote to build the new Elementary school. Continue to listen and talk to locals to get different views of what our district is doing and plans to do in the future. 

Are there any community organizations would you like the school district to partner with in order to better serve families and students? (or discuss a current partnership you think is most beneficial).

I think the school should partner with many organizations they can within the community. More involvement will equal more support. 

Do you support “Proposition Lewis?” Why or why not?

100% I do, Yes. This vote is just to move funds we already have to a different account. Its basically like moving money from savings account to checking account. Our children and staff are most important to this community and they should have a beautiful new building to grow and learn. 


Darren McKown, candidate for Excelsior Springs School Board

Darren McKown

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

My name is Darren McKown. I have lived in Excelsior Springs my entire life and graduated from Excelsior Springs High School in 2001. I was very involved in sports and theater and continue to support our hometown athletes.  I still live in Excelsior Springs with my wife and daughter and have a great appreciation for my hometown. I can’t wait for my daughter to attend school at the new Cornerstone Elementary next year.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve (or continue serving) on the Board of Education for the Excelsior Springs School District?

I have been on the Board of Education for a total of 6 years and would like to continue to help make important decisions for the future of our students. Growing up in Excelsior Springs and attending school here gives me insight to what I can help with as a member of the Board of Education. I hope to continue helping make decisions that will keep this district a great learning environment for my daughter as she begins Kindergarten this upcoming school year. I was grateful to be involved in the process of the bond that passed that allowed us to build a brand-new elementary school, make much needed updates to Westview that allowed the Early Childhood Center to relocate there, and many other projects throughout the district.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the Excelsior Springs School District, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

There are still some facilities and equipment within our school district that are in need of updates. We have made great progress but there is still room for improvement to ensure our students have the best and safest learning environment. I am hopeful that the most recent bond in question will allow us to make these much-needed improvements. 

What are our schools doing well and how can you personally help continue to make improvements?

The last few years have been difficult and a lot of decisions had to be made regarding situations that were very much out of everyone’s control and we’ve never encountered before. The main focus has always remained on the students and what we can do as a district to ensure they have a stable learning environment. This includes helping to maintain reliable teaching staff. During times of teacher shortages, our district did a great job of ensuring there was sufficient staffing so there was no impact to our students education. I hope to continue working with the Board of Education to ensure this continues year after year.

What are some goals you would like to accomplish as a school board member?

 I would like to see continued improvements throughout the district. We have a wonderful new elementary school and great improvements to the other elementary schools, high school, middle school, and early childhood center. Being a part of the Board of Education will allow me to have a voice in this continued growth and improvement of our district. Being able to help shape the future of students, including my daughter, is something that is very important to me as a member of this community.

Are there any community organizations would you like the school district to partner with in order to better serve families and students? (or discuss a current partnership you think is most beneficial).

No Response

Do you support “Proposition Lewis?” Why or why not?

Yes, I support Proposition Lewis. This is important because of the improvements it will allow us to do at Lewis Elementary School with no increase costs to the community. This school is one of the older buildings in the district and needs significant improvements. This proposition would allow the district to rebuild Lewis Elementary which would mean a new facility and equipment for a large portion of our elementary school students. I don’t see any reason to not support this proposition as it provides an improved learning environment for our students with no increase in taxes for our community. This is a win-win proposition. 


Andy Starkebaum

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal connection with Excelsior Springs.

Excelsior Springs resident for 14 years

City of Excelsior Springs employee seven years served on Excelsior Springs school district Board of Education 2017 to 2020

Father of a 2017 and a 2021 high school graduate

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve (or continue serving) on the Board of Education for the Excelsior Springs School District?

I understand the inner-workings and processes which make a private, commercial and government funded organization, successful by utilizing all the resources available to each entity, for example profit and loss statements, budgetary items, grant applications, and have had much experience in holding contractors accountable to their timelines and written agreements. While on the board, we maintained a balanced budget with surplus, paid off multiple debts, and eventually passed a no tax increase bond, which inturn help to enhance most of the facilities in our district and create a new one. Examples, Elkhorn school, technology upgrade and storm shelter construction. West view renovation, along with building enhancements to the high school and middle school.  

What do you see as the primary challenges facing the Excelsior Springs School District, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

The challenge for any school district with inflation and cost-of-living increases, is to increase the tax base. Our pie is only so big, and most of the pieces are divided up with payroll, utilities, leases, and repairs and maintenance. The tax revenue for the school district only increases if the residential and commercial development increase. The challenge is to take what we know we have, make the best decisions based on that projection and keep the certified and non-certified staff, properties, facilities, and rolling stock up to the best standard to run a efficient and successful school district. 

What are our schools doing well and how can you personally help continue to make improvements?

When we first moved into the Excelsior Springs school district it was very apparent how the Tigers were supported by the community. The core education along with fine arts, career center, special education, and sports programs or second to none in Clay and Raycounty. It is also been very apparent that with the addition of the community center the school district has benefited by partnering with the city of Excelsior Springs and it’s Parks and Recreation Department. This is a win-win for both entities.

What are some goals you would like to accomplish as a school board member?

Goals are the fabric which hold teams together for a certain period of time achieving goals, require planning and collaboration among all the board/team. We all have to be going the same direction and all input from each member and the administration is part of the goal making process. My imput will be only a portion, and the betterment of the students will always be at the forefront. I look forward to working with and collaborating with past team members as well as getting to know the new administration and staff.

Are there any community organizations would you like the school district to partner with in order to better serve families and students? (or discuss a current partnership you think is most beneficial).

No Response

Do you support “Proposition Lewis?” Why or why not?

Yes, I support proposition Lewis. The outdated structure has been long overdue to be either renovated and updated or demolished and rebuilt. A new state of the art energy efficient and safe facility which is in the best interest of our future Tigers and for this community is able to be achieved with a no tax increase bond. We did this once and we can do it again. Thank you


City of Wood Heights Mayor (1 seat)

Frank J. Davitt

No Responses


City of Wood Heights Alderman At-Large (2 seats open)

*candidates presented in alphabetical order by last name

Bernard "Bernie" Allen, candidate for Wood Heights City Alderman

Bernard “Bernie” D. Allen, Jr.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your connection to Wood Heights.

My name is Bernard (Bernie) Allen.  I’ve been a resident of Wood Heights for approximately thirty years and I’ve served as an Alderman for 13 years under 4 different mayors.

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve as Alderman/Mayor for Wood Heights?

I was a Missouri State Highway Patrolman working Clay and Platte Counties out of Zone 2A.  After that I retired from North Kansas City Hospital’s Security Department.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing Wood Heights, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

Road quality while balancing our small budget has always been one of the most important and difficult issues facing our city.  The board is currently applying  for a government grant and putting a bond issue for road improvement before city residents in the upcoming election.  If approved roads would then be rebuilt starting with those currently in the worst condition until funds run out.

Regarding some resistance issue to the Town and Country Paper being thrown in their yard: If you do not want it to be thrown in your yard then it is up to you to call the paper and let them know.  If you want it to continue to be thrown, then no action is required.

I would appreciate your vote for Wood Heights City Alderman.  Thank you.


Kathy Hart

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your connection to Wood Heights.

No Response

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve as Alderman/Mayor for Wood Heights?

No Response

What do you see as the primary challenges facing Wood Heights, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

No Response


David Stephens, candidate for Wood Heights City Alderman

David Michael Stephens

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your connection to Wood Heights.

First, I would like to take a moment and thank Excelsior Citizen for allowing me an opportunity to introduce myself to the voters of Wood Heights, MO. My name is David Stephens and I have lived in Wood Heights, MO for the last 15 months. I moved to Wood Heights from the west coast with my teen daughter after the loss of my first wife. I met and married my current wife who was an Excelsior Springs resident for years and it seemed logical to move to Wood Heights. 

Although I came from a tiny city (relatively speaking) on the west coast of 58,000 residents, I have always wanted the small-town feel. I never imagined moving to a town of 700 but it felt like home the second I stepped foot here. 

I have always fostered a caring personality with my neighbors and city. During my short time here, I tried to work with the city on getting accurate information out to the residents in the mailers, tried to work with the city in regard to social media management and website updating. Unfortunately, these attempts were met with pushback from the elected officials of the city. Because of this, I took Alderman Hart’s Facebook post to heart, “So many keyboard warriors if you don’t come to the meetings or like what’s being done, then run for office.” (March 25, 2021)

Those that know me know I love quotes and I live my life by many of them. One is Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I cannot sit idle in the background complaining that our city is not working for us, the residents, unless I am willing to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. That is exactly what I promise to the residents of Wood Heights, MO.

Furthermore, I will make certain promises to the residents of Wood Heights. On my first day on the board, I will propose that the board and mayor cease collection of their salaries. This $2,000 a year (total) should then be used as a budget for resident outreach and engagement. This will fund surveys and outreach efforts to get information on what is important to the residents. If this is shot down, I will place my salary in an account to pay for city related expenses and I will donate the remaining at the end of the year to a charity.

I hope everyone visits my Facebook page to stay up to date with my campaign. https://www.facebook.com/AldermanStephensWH

What parts of your experience and background make you the best candidate to serve as Alderman/Mayor for Wood Heights?

I have vast experience in a few areas. First and foremost, my academic studies in communications and interpersonal communications will allow me to foster great relationships with peers, residents and visitors to put a positive light on the city of Wood Heights. 

I have also spent several years working in a financial institution in the marketing department. This experience offered me two strong backgrounds – Marketing and Financials. 

On the marketing side, I can effectively and efficiently create a digital presence for the city that we desperately need. We need to update the website with current, prudent information. Furthermore, a social media presence is needed to inform the citizens of events, meetings, information, weather reports, maintenance issues and more. Currently, social media and digital content is nonexistent or lackluster at best. My expertise can allow me to bring us to modern standards that residents will appreciate.

On the financial side, working for a financial institution required me to study regulations, policies and accounting procedures. This experience allows me to see budgets, financial reports and more in a more in-depth way to ensure proper spending and budgeting of taxpayer resources.

After moving to Wood Heights, I gained a position in a civil engineering firm. Now, I must make sure it is known that I am not speaking on behalf of my employer or displaying expertise in civil engineering. However, with my position, I am expected to obtain understandings in civil engineering that someone outside of the field would not have knowledge in. Given that our infrastructure and roads are collapsing in Wood Heights, my experience and knowledge in Civil Engineering affords me the ability to ask questions that may be overlooked. For example, our current administration wants to replace the roads BEFORE repairing water lines, drainage, runoff, etc. Given my knowledge obtained, I can unequivocally say that is backwards and will cause our roads to deteriorate rapidly.

What do you see as the primary challenges facing Wood Heights, and how can you help to overcome those challenges?

There are several challenges facing Wood Heights. These include roads, lack of information and engagement with residents, lack of digital footprint and a lack of modern conveniences.

The roads are on everyone’s minds right now. I remember last October when I drove to Missouri and I turned down my street coming to my new home for the first time. I was stunned at the road conditions. Infrastructure support within Wood Heights is nonexistent. Recently, tens of thousands of dollars were spent on patching roads that didn’t even last a month. I appreciate the effort, but it was wasteful. I will bring my knowledge in the AEC field to help vet engineers and contractors to get work done effectively and within a realistic budget. Currently, the city is asking for a $2 million bond to fix the roads. Every professional I have talked to about this said $2 million is grossly underestimated and we should plan on $3-4 million for the repairs. In addition, they all have raised concerns about redoing the roads without managing runoff. This knowledge has led me to request proposals from the engineering firm (which the city refuses to give me) and ask hard questions that remain unanswered. I will be voting NO on the bond. A bond is needed to do the repairs, but we need to do this the right way and in the right order.

Lack of information and engagement with residents is a huge issue in Wood Heights. If you ask a question of the mayor or council through email, they will not respond although they have stated they will (Alderman Hart and Alderman Johnson December 2022). The response you are given is “come to the meetings if you want information.” Even if you have a work conflict or another reason as to why you cannot attend, it does not matter to them. I did attend the December meeting to get the engineering proposal that I requested. During the meeting, it was commented that the proposal is unfinished and unavailable. I still cannot figure out why an alderman would tell me to come to the meeting to get the proposal knowing it wasn’t available.

After I began running for Alderman and called them out on this formally, I was blocked on Wood Heights Social Media groups and pages to silence me. If I become alderman, I will welcome engagement from our residents, be available via email, phone and social channels to our residents and bring their concerns and ideas to the table every month. I will also push for a biannual, short, survey to help us guide our resources and decisions for the foreseeable future.

Wood Heights lacks a digital footprint. The website is not updated or optimized. Our social media presence is convoluted with several pages opened by random people posing as the city. A formal social media presence and website needs to be enacted. In addition, an official email for elected officials and the city officials is required. Currently, if you email the city, it goes to the clerk’s personal Gmail account. This is concerning as personal information is not encrypted or kept safe. Alderman do not have emails for the residents to use to contact them and the use of personal accounts can create issues.

Lastly, there is a lack of modern conveniences. Currently, our water and trash bills are mailed via postcard. When you wish to pay, you need to go into City Hall during the day on a weekday, impossible for those who work standard hours. Or you can go to a website, pay with a card and be charged a 5% fee. Many residents, like me, do not have the ability to go to city hall to pay so we are penalized monthly to pay a bill online. Options need to be explored. Currently, it is believed the new water owners will bill us directly and the city does not know how billing will be handled (concerning, wouldn’t they ask that before selling the water rights?). However, trash payments will remain with the city and require bills to be mailed to residents. These paper bills pose a financial safety risk and cost the city money. I have offered the city several options (eStatements, paying trash via yearly taxes instead of monthly, etc.) but they have been shot down. If I make it to the board, I will bring this back up for consideration.


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