Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Fallon, Mo., Mayor Differs with Election Rival on Trash Contract, Other Issues [Corrected 03/31/17]

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O'Fallon, Mo., Mayor Differs with Election Rival on Trash Contract, Other Issues [Corrected 03/31/17]

Article excerpt


O'FALLON, Mo. * A controversial long-term contract to operate the city's trash transfer station is among the issues in Tuesday's mayoral race between two-term incumbent Bill Hennessy and City Councilman Bob Howell.

Howell and other council members last year chose Republic Services over the lowest bidder. Hennessy's two vetoes of the selection were overridden.

Among other flashpoints in the campaign: Howell's promise to be more "proactive" than Hennessy in improving city services and trying to attract new business to the city.

"His leadership the last several years has lost its steam," Howell argues. As examples, he cites the city's failed efforts to bring in Menard's and Academy Sports stores.

Hennessy says those were isolated instances in an overall bright picture for the city, which with more than 85,000 residents is the second largest in metro St. Louis.

He says unemployment is low, commercial and industrial occupancy is high and O'Fallon continues to appear on national and state rankings of best and safest places to live.

"Look where the city's at," Hennessy said. "I want to continue what we're doing."

Hennessy, 59, a retired service technician, was an alderman and council member for 10 years before becoming mayor in 2009.

He says a key accomplishment was establishing a playground accessible to children with and without disabilities.

He also cites his efforts to get voter approval for bond issues to build a new police headquarters and court facility and to improve city parks. Howell also supported those measures.

Looking ahead, Hennessy touts a multiyear capital improvements program that launched this year, with street improvements the initial emphasis.

Howell, 54, a council member for nine years, was in the news with his push to get the council to boost city police pay last year. He also sponsored a successful measure mandating union labor and other rules for the new police-court building.

Howell says if he's elected mayor, he'll work to establish some kind of entertainment and dining attraction to pull customers from other areas. "This city needs a draw," he said.

He says he'll continue his effort to set up for a "safe haven" center for young people fighting drug problems. He also pledges to expand and improve lighting on "our darker main roadways."

Howell is a longtime member of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union who now works part-time in construction management.

Campaign finance reports show Howell, with union-related donations in the forefront, holding a fundraising edge over Hennessy. As of late last week Howell raised more than $43,000 and Hennessy about $25,000.

Trash dispute flares

The trash contract controversy began last July when Hennessy vetoed the council's selection of Republic over the low bidder, Waste Connections, and a third company. …

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