The Sedalia City Council will have one new member after voters elected two incumbents and one newcomer in Tuesday’s Municipal Election.
The Ward 1 seat was up for grabs this year after Councilman Jim Cunningham chose not to seek re-election. Jeff Leeman will be the newest member of council after he received 313 votes (59.39 percent) against opponent Chuck Leftwich who received 214 votes (40.61 percent).
“When the winning vote came in it was a good feeling,” Leeman told the Democrat. “I need to thank the voters for their trust in me and that will be very well remembered as we go to work for the city. I want to thank them, the campaign has been great — I’ve met some wonderful people. I came out and did the campaigning and I would say roughly 60 percent of the people I knocked on their door and got to meet, they opened the door and invited me in to talk; that was really a pleasure.”
Leftwich told the Democrat that while he doesn’t have specific plans for getting more involved with the city, he said he is “keeping my options open.”
“I want to congratulate my opponent Jeff Leeman and I want to thank everyone that voted for me and that have supported me, the volunteers that were working with me,” Leftwich said. “I greatly appreciate their efforts.”
Leeman said he appreciated the respectful campaign led by his opponent.
“It’s been a quiet campaign, no name-calling. It was very good and I appreciate that, I hoped it would be,” Leeman said. “I had a pleasure meeting (Leftwich) at the forum and wish the best to him.”
Leeman said there are several things he is looking forward to contributing to as a councilman.
“I think we have some things to look at. One of the main things on our table, I’ll be coming off the Police Personnel Board since I was elected to council and we desperately need to look at a police station,” he said. “… Development out on the west side, as we grow infrastructure is something on our table we need to work with. I like to see the city grow, we’re a city in transition, but we also need to preserve some of our history here because that’s what made it Sedalia in the first place. And third, maintaining the infrastructure we have, that will be an ongoing thing from now on.”
In the races for Wards 2, 3 and 4, incumbents will remain on council. Ward 2 incumbent Bonita Nash ran unopposed, receiving 185 votes.
Ward 3 incumbent Don Meier won a second term with 268 votes (62.47 percent) against challenger Tom Cunningham, who received 160 votes (37.3 percent).
“It felt absolutely great (to win),” Meier said. “First two years was a learning experience. We made a lot of people happy and I guess there’s a few unhappy people out there, but I guess it proved most of the people are happy with what we’re doing.
“… I’d like to say thank you very much (to the voters). I appreciate the trust they put in me. And if I can ever be of help with their concerns, give me a call.”
Meier said Cunningham ran a “good race and I respect him for that.”
“I congratulated (Meier at the Pettis County Courthouse) and I want to thank all my voters,” Cunningham. “… I’ll still be involved, I’ll still go to the council meetings. I’ll still voice my opinion, I guess through Don than in my own right.”
In what became a hotly contested race in the last few weeks, Ward 4 incumbent Tollie Rowe kept his seat for a third term, obtaining 428 votes (63.41 percent) against challenger John Fritz, who received 246 votes (36.44 percent).
“I feel that sometimes I get blessed and one way was by the faith and support and confidence of the folks of the Fourth Ward,” Rowe said. “We do need to commend John for stepping up and putting his hat in the ring. We disagreed on some issues, but the best government is one with active participation, so he needs to be thanked for stepping up. I’m just privileged for the opportunity for a third term.”
Although the election is now over, Fritz still spoke strongly about his issues with his opponent.
“This loss is disappointing but I feel fortunate to have had a chance to bring about an important dialogue with the people of the Fourth Ward and property owners of Sedalia,” Fritz said in a statement emailed to the Democrat. “… Local elections are one of the purest examples of the democratic process at work as many of the voters of the Fourth Ward got a chance to meet both myself and Councilman Rowe in our door-to-door campaign.
“I just wish Mr. Rowe had been transparent in his position on property inspections instead of being worried about my views. I think the voters deserved to know Councilman Rowe’s stance on city inspection of private property, before this election. Absent that I want to congratulate Councilman Rowe in his victory and I assure him this community will be closely watching the property inspection debate and his contribution.”
Rowe thanked all the people who assisted with his campaign and for the “overwhelming support” he received from citizens. He listed a few things he’s looking forward to working on in his next term.
“A new police station, finish the sewer project, and see what other infrastructure improvements we can do,” he said. “Continue to handle what comes our way, and just be that logical voice and balance on the council.”
Percentages may not add up to 100 percent, as write-in votes are not listed.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.