.

Town and Country Election Preview - Meet Your Candidates

All but one alderman face a contender in the upcoming April 3 municipal elections in Town and Country.

Phil Behnen, Town and Country Ward 4 alderman, is the only one running unopposed in the upcoming April 3 municipal elections. Ward 2 Alderman Al Gerber is facing resident Chuck Lenz for his seat. Similarly, Ward 3 Alderman Steve Fons is being challenged by resident Gussie Crawford.

For the Ward 1 seat, Alderman Nancy Avioli will not seek re-election. Two residents Dorothy Cooke and Skip Mange are vying for Avioli’s seat in the upcoming election. Check back Thursday for more on that race and to read their bios.

The following are the profiles of those running for alderman in Ward 2, 3 and 4:

Alan Gerber (incumbent - Ward 2)

  • Previous Government Experience

Gerber was first elected to the board of aldermen in 2010.  Before that, Gerber served on the public works and stormwater commission. Gerber has been a resident of Ward 2 since 2004.

  • Other Experience

Gerber is currently a quality analyst in the Information Technology department at Markets.  Gerber is also a lecturer of mathematics with the University of Phoenix in St. Louis.  

  • QUESTION: Biggest challenge facing Town and Country?

“The greatest challenge facing the board is to find compromise solutions to several issues where the public has become polarized.  One example of this is deer management, where a compromise solution would have included both sharpshooting in the short term and sterilization for the long term.  Another example is the current discussion about adding parking to Longview Farms Park, which has become a proxy battle over the extent to which the park should be developed for future activities. Once we agree on the usage of the park, then I am confident that the answer to the parking issue will become apparent.  Another issue is the number of lanes on Clayton Road.  The public was surveyed whether they want two or three lanes and the majority chose three, but perhaps there is a compromise choice that the board of aldermen can work out that fulfills the main wishes of both sides. Finding good compromises takes strong listening skills along with a desire to put the common good above one's own opinions.  The aldermen we have in Town and Country can do this, but it will be a great challenge this year.”

  • QUESTION: What makes you qualified for alderman?

“My Ph.D in mathematics shows that I have strong skills in using and applying logic.  My scores on critical thinking tests were high enough that I was asked to teach classes in that subject even though it is not my academic field.  Both logic and critical thinking are important in creating and evaluating legislation as an alderman must do.  Also, I have experience as a general manager which means I am familiar with budgets and balance sheets.  But the greatest qualification for my second term is the fact that I am just completing my first term, and I have learned so much about how our municipality works.  I feel there is much more to be done, and I ask for your vote to re-elect me as your alderman.”

Chuck Lenz (Ward 2)

  • Previous Government Experience

Lenz served as Ward 2 alderman in Town and Country from 1992 to 1993. He has been a resident of Ward 2 for 25 years. Lenz has also served in the board of adjustment, the police commission and has been president of the Parkway School District’s Parents/Teachers Organization.

  • Other Experience

Lenz is retired from pharmaceutical industry. Lenz said he is  active in local politics, genealogy research, water gardening and the St. Vincent DePaul Society.

  • QUESTION: Biggest challenge facing Town and Country?

“Town and Country revenue to provide city services is generated from sales tax, utility taxes and license fees.  The city has lost many merchants the past few years, resulting in decreased revenue streams to provide city services.  The main challenge the board of alderman will be facing is  maintaining city services that the residents expect with decreased revenues.

Reducing services (some has been done) is one way to cut expenses, however, residents will have to decide how far they want services reduced.  Attracting new business to the city to fill the vacant areas in our shopping centers would help to solve our problem.  The problem facing the city is similar to many cities today.  Merchants leave to get a better deal elsewhere and we (Town and Country) are left with empty store fronts.  Town and Country will have to continue to convince new business to move to our city.

  • QUESTION: What makes you qualified for alderman?

“I have served as vice president for the board of adjustment, the police commission, the Parkway School District (PTO President, Citizens Advisory Committee), the Parkway Swim Club and been a Subdivision Trustee.  I also have attended the majority of the Board of Alderman and Finance Committee meetings the past 10 years.”

Steve Fons (incumbent, Ward 3)

  • Previous Government Experience

Fons served as councilman for the city of Richmond Heights from 2000-2002. Shortly after moving to Town and Country, Fons was elected alderman of Ward 3 in 2004, a position he has held since. Fons has held several commission-chairman positions, including for the Longview Farm House, the police commission, parks and trails commission and the conservation commission. Fons also served as city liaison for and for the .

  • Other Experience

Fons is currently a mortgage loan officer for .

  • QUESTION: Biggest challenge facing Town and Country?

"I choose to run for a fifth term to ensure the continuance of our high standards recognized by the Municipal League of Cities, as well as preserving our green space and parks. If we as residents and heads of our families do not step forth to serve our community, others will who are not necessarily looking out for our best interests.  I want to preserve the "country" in Town and Country by reviewing commercial developments that "make sense". The most important issue the City of Town and Country needs to address right is the proposed additional parking for Longview Park.  I am opposed to this plan to cut down old-growth trees and pave over green space at Longview Park to add up to 22 additional parking spaces at a cost of $100,000 for the following reasons: the overwhelming  opposition expressed by residents; the existing traffic counts does not support the continued encroachment of green space; the aggravation of existing runoff problems that are now estimated to cost over $250,000 to repair. Also, the prospect of grant funding will not occur because of the record of public opposition.”

  • QUESTION: What makes you qualified for alderman?

"As chairman of the Longview Farm House I coordinated architectural review process for the new addition and renovation of the Longview Farm House. As chairman of the parks and trails commission, I proposed the walkway from Old Woods Mill Road to Longview Farm House which has been widely accepted and utilized in community. As chairman of the conservation commission, I coordinated the Arbor Day, Fall Festival and Wine/Art events. As alderman of Town and Country, I made a number of architectural suggestions and proposed changes to the Town and Country Crossings development. The original proposal from the developer proposed a basic cookie cutter Target store as well as “very vanilla strip center.”I asked the developer to go back to the drawing board and make a number of changes to their original design plans. My suggestions were in fact considered and incorporated by the developer on the completed project/development. Because of my aesthetic changes to the original proposal, we have a better finished product that the residents of the community can be proud of and enjoy.”

Gussie Crawford (Ward 3)

  • Previous Government Experience

Crawford said she has not held any municipal government positions. However, she said she has more than 30 years of leadership position experience governing regional, national and international amateur sports including the U.S. Olympic Committee. Crawford is currently the only female president of the National Amateur Athletic Union  in its 124 years. She has been a resident of Ward 3 in Town and Country for 47 years.  

  • Other Experience

Crawford is a retired registered nurse. Crawford said he volunteer work in amateur athletics has given her extensive experience in planning, policy development/implementation, budget preparation/monitoring and administration.

  • QUESTION: Biggest challenge facing Town and Country?

“The greatest challenge the Town and Country Board of Aldermen will face in the next year are the same ones facing most municipalities in this era of flat or reduced revenue, which are delivering traditional city services, productive use of vacant commercial property and being open and available to their constituents.
I am a team player and am willing to listen to all sides of a problem and then after careful research of the sources available help arrive at a solution. Each problem is different and each must be evaluated and resolved in light of the needs and the circumstances present. My experience tells me that open minded, fact based collaboration is essential to the process of problem solving.”

  • QUESTION: What makes you qualified for alderman?

“The greatest qualifications that I possess for the office I seek is my background as an administrator and national ambassador giving me the unique understanding of dealing with problem solving, consensus building, as well as administrative duties. My 30-plus years dealing with volunteers has been an education in patience, seeing both sides of a problem, and reaching a satisfactory outcome for all involved.”

Phil Behnen (incumbent, Ward 4 - uncontested)

  • Previous Government Experience

Behnen, who is running unopposed, has been an alderman in Town and Country since 2006. Last year, of the board. He has lived in Town and Country for 19 years. 

  • Other Experience

Behnen is a Certified Public Accountant and has a certification in financial planning. Behnen obtained his Bachelors degree in accounting and a masters degree both from St. Louis University. Behnen was also president of Our Lady of Pillar school board.

  • QUESTION: Biggest challenge facing Town and Country?

"Like all sales tax based municipalities around the country, the slow-down in the economy has resulted in reduced revenue for the city. Since our city has no property tax, we are dependent on sales tax to run City Hall, which can make budgeting and implementation very challenging.  Our city has wisely responded to reduced revenue by cutting costs and renegotiating contracts.  The demand for maintaining our excellent police, fire and ambulance service while keeping city tax rates low will continue to necessitate the need for excellent financial management."

  • QUESTION: What makes you qualified for alderman?

"I am an experienced financial executive with over 20 years of experience. Good listening and problem solving skills are critical and a thick skin and sense of humor help, since not all people will be happy 100 percent of the time, but we try our best."

*Check back to Town and Country - Manchester Patch daily for more information leading up to the April 3 election.

Read Related Stories:



Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something