Voters won't decide on several Creve Coeur City Council races for almost a month, but that's not stopping the race for an office not vacant until 2012 from getting started.
Ward 4 City Councilwoman Laura Bryant has been telling people for a while that she planned to run for mayor, and in January launched a Facebook site to promote her campaign. Last week, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Barry Glantz, a former City Councilman, mailed a letter to city residents to let people know of his intent to seek the office.
Longtime Creve Coeur Mayor Harold Dielmann is term-limited and cannot seek re-election. He continues his recovery from surgery last month to repair a leaking heart valve.
Glantz is president of Glantz & Associates, a residential architectual design firm in Creve Coeur. He served on city council from 1992-2000 and currently sits on the Planning and Zoning Commission. He says he would follow a fiscally conservative path as mayor while the city navigates through tight financial times along with the rest of the economy.
"I don’t think Creve Coeur is immune. We’re a more affluent community, but I don’t think we’re immune to any of the issues that face people every day," he said.
Bryant, a corporate communications executive with Enterprise, will be leaving her seat after the current term due to term-limits, after 10 years. She also served for four years on the Planning and Zoning Commission. She said her goal is to "Help other residents and businesses better understand how we can make our local government not just better but more fair, and in the process, I think more effective.”
Interestingly, the candidates have, in some ways, sought to give perspective as to what the role of mayor, a part-time volunteer, is in the city of Creve Coeur. The mayor rarely casts a vote (only in cases of ties), but both candidates said the mayor's office provides positive leadership. Bryant said she would "rightsize" the mayor's office literally--by giving the mayor's physical office, what she calls the largest at the Creve Coeur Government Center, to the city administrator, who manages the day-to-day operations of the city.
Glantz said he has seen the much-maligned Olive Boulevard Transportation Development District, or TDD, come before Planning and Zoning meetings sporadically but said he doesn't have intimate knowledge of the project. The project, which has been the source of scrutiny over the years, is over budget and behind schedule. “I’m somewhat surprised at how the scope of the Olive TDD has changed over the past few years," Glantz said. "I’m not surprised given the economic climate that financial projections that were made many years ago aren’t holding true today,” he said.
Bryant has been a longtime critic of the Olive TDD but has said the problems stem not from the financial projections but the tactics employed by a TDD board which has included members of city council and the mayor. Bryant said those tactics have included anonymous mailers, and the threat of eminent domain. “I think financial transparency, property rights and free speech are worth standing up for…if those are not considered important enough by voters in Creve Coeur then they should probably not vote for me, because I believe with all my heart that they are,” Bryant said.
In his letter sent to residents last week, Glantz echoed the importance of positive leadership, saying "a community's leadership is so often reflective of its overall climate. As Mayor, I will encourage open and transparent dialogue, but will not tolerate a toxic environment within the city of Creve Coeur."
Both candidates say they have begun the process of talking in public about running early so there is time to talk with residents and business owners about individual concerns. The clock is now running on a dialogue which won't end in Creve Coeur until April 2012.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story made reference to the use of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits by the city of Creve Coeur. In error, the article associated the use of the suits in connection with the Olive Blvd. Transportation Development District. The suits were related to controversies stemming from the City of Creve Coeur Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 2002. Patch regrets the error.