Hannibal City Council, School Board candidates make pitches at forum

James Godert and Trisha O'Cheltree
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 22, 2018 9:05 pm Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 9:28 pm

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Candidates running for the open Hannibal City Council 1st Ward position and two open Hannibal School Board positions in the April 3 election made their pitches at a candidate forum Thursday at the Hannibal Country Club.

Candidates at the forum, hosted by the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce, each had five minutes to speak as attendees ate lunch.

Up first were Trisha O'Cheltree and James Godert, who are seeking to fill the 1st Ward council seat being vacated by Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Knickerbocker. Both cited bringing good-paying jobs to the area as their focus.

"Talking to people in Ward 1, bringing better-paying jobs to the community is important, and if elected, that will be a primary focus of mine," said O'Cheltree, who works at Spectrum Reach.

Godert, founder of Godert Construction, said there are more benefits than just financial ones if more job opportunities are brought to the city.

"With better-paying jobs, you get residents working, productivity up, and make the community better," he said, adding that "if you have a hard-working resident, they're not out causing trouble."

Both O'Cheltree and Godert are involved in the community. O'Cheltree is a member of the Hannibal Jaycees and is a chairman for National Tom Sawyer Days. Godert said he helps clean up and enhance the south side through various projects.

Four candidates are running to fill two open School Board positions -- Ryan Rapp, Blane Mundle, Brenda Krigbaum and Justin Parker.

Rapp, the incumbent, was appointed to the board in November to fill the vacancy left by Terry Sampson in October. Board President David Jackson is not seeking re-election.

Rapp, vice president of Commerce Bank in Hannibal, said his financial background and experience on the School Board is what sets him apart.

"I know the time and dedication it takes to be on the School Board," Rapp said.

He was chairman of the School District's Proposition C Committee, which successfully worked to have a ballot question approved in April 2016 to get a waiver from a state-mandated rollback of property taxes.

"I know the impact of Prop C. If it wasn't for the school leadership and Prop C committee, the district was days away from not having enough cash flow for payroll. Being on the board, I want to make sure this doesn't happen again," Rapp said. "I bring experience in having voluntarily served on 10 boards in this community and also having volunteered with various philanthropic organizations. I know this (the School Board) is a place where I can pay it forward."

Mundle, Troy Middle School assistant principal in Lincoln County, is retiring in May but said he's not ready to leave the field of education.

"There are so many reasons in this room today why I'm running. I look around and see former students who are sitting here who have been so successful," Mundle said. "I have always said, 'Be involved in the things that affect your life.' What affects our lives more than education? When I retire, I need purpose in my life, and the School Board is going to give me purpose if you elect me."

Krigbaum highlighted the joy her five children and the children of others bring her, especially while she works in food service at the School District.

"Caring for my own children has led me to care for other's children. Education has to be a team effort. If one part can't function, the system breaks down," Krigbaum said. "I don't give up. I want to make a difference in the lives of Hannibal School District children, and I promise I'll do it with a smile."

Parker, an agent with American Family Insurance -- Parker and Associates, said his focus would be teachers and students.

"Growing up, my parents encouraged me in school, and unfortunately, not everyone has that situation. Today, teachers aren't just teachers. Sometimes they're parents and role models," Parker said. "Every child is one caring adult away from being successful. If elected, the issues I'd focus on are anti-bullying; school safety; creating a stronger mentorship program; and teaching basic values like love, peace, patience and self-control, all while providing exceptional education."


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