Nixa has 11 residents seeking to fill two vacant city council positions

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - On Monday night (September 19), 11 Nixa residents who applied for the city’s two vacant city council spots were invited to speak to the remaining council members about why they wanted to join them.

Following Monday, September 26, the council will vote on who those two replacements will be.

In April 2023, the general public will vote to name the permanent replacements. However, Nixa Director of Communications Drew Douglas emphasized that the public can still play a role in deciding the interim council members by giving their input to the current council members who’ll be choosing for now.

“The public needs to be involved in this,” Douglas explained. “The public can give us feedback in talking to council members about the character traits and the considerations that the city council should have in mind when selecting these temporary members.”

The vacancies both came open in the last month.

Amy Hoogstraet informed the city administration of her intent to resign her District 1 council seat on September 6, effective immediately. Hoogstraet was elected in April of 2021 to a three-year term.

Justin Orf resigned his District 3 seat effective August 31 after announcing his intent to leave at the August 15 council meeting. Orf was re-elected in April this year to a 3-year term.

When voters elect permanent replacements in April 2023, residents of District 1 will vote to select someone to represent them for the final year of Hoogstraet’s term, while residents of District 3 will elect someone to represent their district for the remaining two years of Orf’s term.

District 1 is roughly described as north of Northview Street to the west of Main Street and north of North Street to the east of Main Street (north area of Nixa).

District 3 is roughly described as south of Rt. 14 and west of Main Street (southwest of Nixa).

Nixa’s council district map can be viewed at:

The District 1 interim replacement candidates include Tod Davis, Matthew Ogden, Scott Perryman, Brian Popejoy, and Tamara Reuman.

The District 3 interim replacement candidates are Seth Balogh, Jeff Belcher, Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirik, Dustin Hall, Christie Hendrickson, and Maria Smith.

Serving on any government body takes a thick skin and devotion to civic service, as you’ll be hearing from many people who are angry about something and getting paid tiny (if anything) to put up with it.

In Nixa, city council members receive a yearly $960 stipend to pay for gas.

And suppose anyone knows about the negative part of the job. In that case, it’s Nixa Mayor Brian Steele, who survived a recall election in November 2021 because of a mask mandate he implemented during the pandemic.

“It was a challenge,” Steele said of the recall attempt. “There was no benefit to it, so I wish I hadn’t gone through it, but I’m glad the community showed its support.”

Steele, who will not be running for reelection in 2023, has been a member of the city council for 12 years and admits the job is a lot tougher now than it was when he started.

“With the growth of social media and just the political climate in the country today, it’s much harder to be involved at any level of government,” he said. “But it takes that commitment and drive to want to help your neighbors.”

That’s why he’s proud of the 11 residents willing to step in and face the slings-and-arrows of others.

“It really is a civic duty,” Steele pointed out. “They say all it takes for evil to triumph is for a good man not to stand up.”

Douglas pointed out that the new council members will not be chosen based on whether they’re Republicans or Democrats.

“Our charter says that the city council should be non-partisan,” he explained. “We’re not selecting based on national political parties. We try to keep that separate because when you see the things the city council is deciding, they’re not really those hot-button issues. It’s more about utility contracts, tree clean-ups, or practical services here in town that don’t have to do with those bigger national debates.”

But the city council plays a valuable role, especially when Nixa is undergoing tremendous economic development and growth in business, housing, and infrastructure.

“We’re really growing quickly,” Douglas said. “We’ve doubled in population in the last 20 years, and we think it’s possible that we’ll double again in the next 20 years. A lot of people don’t realize that we’re actually a larger community population-wise than Branson. We’re the second-largest city in the area. And as a city council member, you’re really helping guide the direction of this community.”

“As city council members, we’re not involved in the day-to-day operations of the city,” Steele added. “But we are involved in the long-and-medium-term strategic planning. It’s important to have those voices from the community to tell us what they’re looking for in the future. You’re seeing decisions being made today that are going to affect the next 20 years. It was about 20 years ago that we built the police station, the city hall, the community center, and our largest park. So now we’re looking at what are the next investments that are going to make Nixa a viable community long into the future. We’re still seeing considerable growth in housing, and we’re always pushing to bring in more commercial and industrial jobs because that’s really how you build that tax base you need to fund public safety and the park systems.”

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