The St. Joseph municipal election races are set.
A total of 28 people will be running for either mayor, city council or municipal judge. Five of those candidates filed on the last day Tuesday — James Kindred, Rusty Summers, Andrew Montee, Kathy Hill-Bahner and Kenneth Reeder. All of them still need their petitions to be verified by the Buchanan County clerk.
Reeder, who currently serves on the St. Joseph Board of Education, pulled petitions for three races, the latest candidate to do so. In the end, he decided to file for council at-large.
“My M.O. is not going to change,” Reeder said. “I think I’ve been fortunate that we’ve really got the school district kind of turned around in everybody’s mind now, and I plan on working just as hard here at City Hall.”
In such a short amount of time, Reeder relied on volunteers to help get the 250 signatures he needed to run at-large.
“I had all that set up and how we normally roll that out and can get it done in a relatively small amount of time with volunteers,” Reeder said. “One of my main people that’s a professional collector knows how to do it and knows how to talk to people and get that signature.”
If elected, Reeder plans to serve on both the city council and the school board, despite meetings for both entities being on Monday.
“It’s nothing but a win-win for my constituents on either side,” Reeder said. “Now I have twice the volume, twice the voice for them. They know I’m going to be the same — taxpayers first.”
The council at-large race finished with a total of 11 candidates. District 1 has three, District 2 has four and District 4 has two candidates. District 3 only has one candidate — Andrew Trout.
The municipal judge race has three people running. The mayoral race finished with four candidates — John Josendale, Whitney Lanning, Gary Lewis and Gary Wilkinson. Lanning was the last to file out of the group.
“People were consistently asking me, like, ‘Why haven’t you filed yet?’ It’s because I’m connecting with people,” Lanning said. “It’s a marathon, not a race.”
Lanning said gathering that many signatures was a lot of work, but talking to voters made it worth it.
“It was definitely taxing, took a lot of coordination and organization,” Lanning said. “But it was a really great opportunity to connect with voters.”
Since Trout is running unopposed, he is the council’s next District 3 representative. Five other races — mayor, municipal judge, council at-large, District 1 and District 2 — have enough candidates for a primary election, which will be held Feb. 8.
District 4 will skip the primaries and go straight to the general election on April 5 because only two candidates are running.
Below is the final filing list for city elections, barring any changes after the Buchanan County clerk verifies the candidates who filed Tuesday:
—James Kindred Sr.
Council District 1
Council District 2
Council District 3
Council District 4
St. Joseph has a new fire chief whose name will be familiar to many.
Kenny Cordonnier, who has served as interim fire chief since the retirement of Mike Dalsing earlier this year, was named to the post permanently Tuesday.
“It’s been interesting,” Cordonnier said. “I’ve been doing it for a while, though, so it’s not a complete shock. But it’s an interesting first day.”
Cordonnier is a 39-year member of the fire department, spending the last nine years as chief of fire prevention. He also served as backup to Dalsing for the past several years.
Cordonnier’s appointment is effective immediately, and his salary will be $110,000.
Cordonnier originally had not applied for the chief’s position permanently, as he said he was thinking of retiring.
However, St. Joseph City Manager Bryan Carter said that Cordonnier was selected based on his experience as interim fire chief and his time with the fire department. He also noted the respect Cordonnier has from other firefighters, community members and city officials.
Carter said that while Cordonnier didn’t originally express interest in the position of fire chief, he was comfortable being the interim leader until a permanent one could be found.
“However, the longer he did it, as the process went on, it became clear that he was an excellent candidate for it,” Carter said. “I did first approach the topic with him a few weeks ago … He indicated some level of reception to doing it.
“And as we got through some of the other candidate interviews and revisited that conversation with him, he was willing to go ahead and step up and lead our department,” Carter said.
Carter added that 34 people applied for the position. Going into the selection, he said he spoke with various firefighters to determine what qualities, characteristics and experiences they wanted to see in their next leader. From there, he said it was evident that Cordonnier possessed these factors.
Cordonnier said there is not a big difference between being fire chief and interim fire chief.
“At least now I can make some final decisions and move forward with some projects that we’ve thought about but not implemented yet,” Cordonnier said.
He explained these projects might involve a bit of restructuring at the top.
“It’s kind of interesting how it worked out,” Cordonnier said. “But this is the way it worked out, and we’re gonna move forward from there.”
He said he considers the position of fire chief one of supporting his staff.
“We have a great bunch of men and women working on the fire department,” he said. “It’s more of a supporting role, (to) make sure they have what they need, they’re fit and ready to go.”
As crowds of people hit the road to visit family, friends and loved ones for the holidays, law enforcement agencies are encouraging drivers to stay attentive.
According to the American Auto Association, 2021 Thanksgiving travel is expected to be up 13% compared to 2020. AAA predicts more than 53.4 million people expected to travel, the highest single-year increase since 2005, a release from the organization said.
Officers are prepared for the increase every year but continue asking drivers to keep a few things in mind. Sgt. Jake Angle with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said drivers should prepare for obstacles they may face while traveling.
“We need the public’s help and that’s paying attention to the job of driving, putting their seat belt on, don’t drink and drive, never drive impaired,” he said. “Give 100% of your attention to the job of driving because ... there can be a lot of changes quickly out there on the road, slow-moving farm implements, deer, construction zones popping up here and there. Our mission doesn’t change every year. It’s our mission — highway safety.”
The patrol’s Troop H, which covers Northwest Missouri, is seeing a 17% increase in traffic crash fatalities for the year, making this heavy travel period cause for concern.
Missouri Department of Transportation construction teams will stop work around noon on Wednesday and have Friday off as well. This gives drivers a break in seeing workers on the road, but lane and bridge closures will remain in place.
“There could be some delays, so you just want to plan on that, that way everybody is planning that extra time so you’re not tempted to speed,” Angle said.