A little more than a month removed from the last election, Creve Coeur leaders showed Monday that there are differing opinions about the best way to provide healing following a tightly contested Mayor's race that has resulted in a pair complaints filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The City Council elected Ward 3 Councilman Dr. Bob Hoffman as Council President Monday, but only after forcing new Mayor Barry Glantz to cast tie-breaking votes in just his second meeting since being sworn into office.
The Council President is involved in vetting city committee appointments and also chairs council meetings when the Mayor is absent.
Hoffman was chosen over Ward 4 Councilman Dr. Scott Saunders under a new procedure meant to open up nominations from what members had previously said was something of an ad-hoc process. Ward 1 Councilwoman Beth Kistner led the opposition to a consequence of the new process which essentially forced a 5/8 simple majority for the vote of a council president. She was joined by fellow Ward 1 Councilman David Kreuter, Ward 2 Councilwoman Tara Nealey and Hoffman.
Mayor Glantz cast the tie-breaking vote on the "simple-majority" motion and then cast the tie-breaking vote to elect Hoffman as President (Kreuter, Wang, and Kistner supported Hoffman, while Charlotte D'Alfonso, Jeanne Rhoades, and Nealey supported Saunders. Each candidate voted for himself).
D'Alfonso argued prior to the vote that Saunders was a good candidate for the role because he was the only member of council who truly remainded neutral during the Mayor's race which pitted Glantz against former Ward 4 city councilwoman Laura Bryant.
After a convincing win on election night, Glantz spoke of overseeing a period of healing in the city after a bruising campaign, something Saunders attempted to tap into Monday.
"I think the people you need to reach out to and be inclusive of are not going to be your supporters, they're going to be the people who aren't your supporters," Saunders said prior to the vote, noting that Bryant had won more than 60 percent of the vote in the ward.
Saunders also pointed out that in 15 years as part of the city, Ward 4 had only had a single turn at having a Council President, compared to cycles which have resulted in the chair being shared among the other three wards on a more regular basis.
Kistner responded by suggesting the lack of a 4th Ward presence in the council president's seat over the years has had more to do with the interpersonal relationships among council members than anything particular to the ward itself.
Rhoades and Bryant have been vocal on issues of political and financial transparency over the years, often clashing with former Mayor Harold Dielmann and Kistner, among others.
The subject was broached during Monday's discussion but the Mayor did not address it specifically.
For his part, Hoffman said he looked "forward to bringing everyone together for the good of the city."
There was no discussion of electing a Council Vice President to who would step in to run a council meeting in the event both the Mayor and Council President were absent.
What would you do to promote political healing in the city?