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Cunningham Declares Victory In 'War' Against Unions In Monarch Fire Board Race

The former State Senator defeated former State Rep. Cole McNary in a race for the West St. Louis County area fire district board.

A matchup of two high profile political names who have spent the past few months duking it out for a seat on the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors came to a conclusion Tuesday as voters elected chose Jane Cunningham over Cole McNary for a seat on the three-person panel. In unofficial final results:

Cunningham  5,679 60.02 percent

McNary         3,742 39.55 percent

Write-In              4    1 .43 percent

"This is one of the sweetest wins I've ever had because it was a win of something so direct for the people. This was a fundamental war if you will," for control of the Monarch Fire Protection District board, Cunningham said as a victory party at Mike Duffy's in Town and Country wrapped up late Tuesday.

Cunnigham, who turned to the race after being redistricted out of a seat in the State Senate and then losing a bid to become Chair of the Missouri Republican Party, framed the win as a victory for people looking to reign in the influence of the firefighter's union within the district. "They do not believe that unions should be picking the people that are gonna set their salaries," she said.

"I hope the district continues to make progress," a disappointed McNary, who five months ago lost a statewide bid for Treasurer, told Patch late Tuesday. The district has been beset by drama over the past few years over a proposed tax increase which was pulled off the table, and an employment discrimination lawsuit that ruled against the district in state appeals court. 

He said people want high quality service from firefighters operating within the district's financial constraints. McNary said it was unclear what role if any he might play moving forward as a district taxpayer but that he hoped people would take an interest in how the district operates.

Cunningham said her first order of business will be to work with the other board members and recommend an analysis of fire district salaries and benefits to see how they measure up in "apples to apples" comparisons with other departments.

"We want no waste, we want good service and we're willing to pay for it, but we don't want to overpay," Cunningham said of the mandate given by voters Tuesday.

Jane Smith April 08, 2013 at 11:08 AM
I have not formed a final feeling about unions at all. I think each situation is different and has to be treated as such. Which is why Jane Cunningham is frustrating. She is a politician, not a statesman or leader. Enough people around her have her thinking that she is has those skills, apparently. So when she has an issue on which to vote, I have watched her take stands based on rhetorical fallacies and disruption of a collegial process of governance. It's tiring and embarrassing, not unlike someone from any party who gets a party script and repeats it before a vote or to stir the funding pot. "But this is politics, this is how it works, you naïf" - I know I might be accused of being too simple. But after witnessing the post-Lee Atwater privately-funded world effectively driving the devolution of the best of a representative democracy, I'm not ashamed of believing that we should demand otherwise locally, especially if we can't get sanity at the state or federal level. So, even though I don't see Cunningham as capable of thinking like a statesman (that's where I'm not naive), I do feel like we deserve better.
Travis Bickle April 08, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Jane Smith.......I have never read a more clearly stated understanding of Ms. Cunningham. She is disruptive and contrary for the sake of being disruptive annd contrary. Her positions are not only foolish but if implemented would definately be hurtful. Some Missouri politicians even make homeless people like me look good! I am so tired of politicians taking these mean for the sake of mean stances such as the bill introduced to drop families from welfare if their children do not have 90 percent attendace in a population of kids that cannot eat in a healthy way on assistance. It is just me but I want a kinder more gentle world. This dog eat dog stuff just works until a bigger, meaner or more wealthy dog comes along and then those that were first become last, as the saying goes. I just don't think that is the world God planned for his people. I applaud your assessment and I am clapping very loudly from my 1976 Ford Pinto parked on the lot of the Chesterfield Wal Mart. Some kind people parked next to me in a huge RV this weekend and they left me two lawn chairs. I can now have company over as long as the mangers of the Mega Mart do not see them! Namaste, Travis
Tom Dressler April 08, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Public employees should not be allowed to bargain collectively. Elected officials then for the purpose of votes increase wages, pensions etc. ultimately getting us to where the US is at present...bankrupt...then what do they do...instead of cutting back they ask for tax increases. Monarch should provide competetive salaries and benefits but it is a misuse of taxpayer funds to pay more.
Travis Bickle April 08, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Tom....That is an interesting opinion but let me offer this. In an article from NPR on Nov.28,2012 the Missouri Supreme Court ruled That not only must public bodies likeschool boards and cities collectively bargain with their employees but that the bargaining must be done in good faith. The Missouri Supreme court ruled in a 5-1 decision that Article 1, Section 29 of the Missouri Constitution which gives the right of collective bargaining and organization, also means that the bargaining must be done in good faith. I am summarizing the article. Your city attorney might want to brush up on this before Jane comes to a meeting. I am not arguing, just a tid bit I found online.
Travis Bickle April 08, 2013 at 09:04 PM
I kinda got a whiff of that "lower class" stuff in Tom's posting kinda like public employees such as teachers, firefighters and police are not "taxpayers" in Creve Coeur. Do you let them live there or do they have to live in Ballwin and Ellisville?

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