My view: Rediger for mayor

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For the last 16 years Cape Girardeau has had the benefit of a strong city council led by mayors Al Spradling III and Jay Knudtson.

A good mayor helps make Cape Girardeau a better city. We in the news media would always prefer to write or broadcast about good things rather than bad. It is our obligation to report on both but not with satisfaction when we have to deal with the negative.

We're also members of this community and have had to report on relatively little negative in covering city government in Cape Girardeau and Jackson.

I've served on both sides of government, involvement as an elected state representative for six years and as a newspaper publisher for over 40 years.

It is rare to find a candidate for office as broadly qualified as Harry Rediger is for mayor of Cape Girardeau. Not only does he have the qualifications of honesty, integrity, energy, interest, concern, good humor, speaking ability and a reputation for involvement in many issues of education, family, church and government, but Rediger has a long list of service to this community.

Rediger and his wife, Fran, have four children and six grandchildren. Working for 38 years in management with J.C. Penney, he was the store manager in Cape Girardeau for 20 of those years. Rediger graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a degree in business administration and has an extensive resume of service to Cape Girardeau. That service includes but is not limited to:

Board member, American Red Cross-Southeast Missouri Chapter Board (1979-1900)

Chairman, American Red Cross-Southeast Missouri Chapter (1983-1984)

Chairman, Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce (1993)

Member, Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission (1989-present)

Member, Cape Girardeau School Board (1995-1997)

Council chair, Centenary United Methodist Church (1993-1994)

Treasurer, Centenary United Methodist Church (2006-present)

Chairman, Saint Francis Healthcare System board of directors (1997-2007)

Chairman, Southeast Missouri University Foundation (2006-2008)

Member, United Way of Southeast Missouri board of directors (19 years, three-time campaign chair)

Veteran, U.S. Navy (1959-1967)

Our mayor represents the city in its negotiations with industry and retail prospects. The mayor is a salesman for the community and our leading spokesman on many state and federal involvements. The mayor is key to Cape Girardeau's dealings with our largest employers, Saint Francis Medical Center, Southeast Missouri Hospital and Southeast Missouri State University, Procter & Gamble; our construction community and real estate developments; K-12 education; city employees (includes the fine administrative staff currently serving Cape Girardeau); retail enterprises; and other area governments including Jackson, Sikeston, Scott City and the Cape Girardeau County Commission. The mayor also presides over city council meetings and performs other duties.

I am happy and proud to personally support Harry Rediger to become the next mayor of Cape Girardeau.

The election is next Tuesday.

This session of the Missouri Legislature ends May 14. The budget is supposed to be passed by the legislature one week prior on May 7.

The revenue numbers are still in flux, and the big question is whether the federal government is going to release $300 million or not.

Public higher education in Missouri receives about 11.8 percent of the $7.8 billion (estimated) of the $23 billion budget not dedicated to cover conservation (separate tax), highways, prisons, medical and social programs and other programs.

The state finished fiscal year 2009 about $550 million below fiscal year 2008.

Fiscal year 2010 collections are expected to be down another 6.5 percent, $480 million below fiscal year 2009.

So if it weren't for the stimulus or stabilization money, we would be around $1 billion in the hole.

The projected growth for fiscal year 2011 (3.6 percent) will still leave the state $775 million behind fiscal year 2008.

Southeast Missouri State University formed a budget review committee in 2008 and last week met again to address its budget and an estimated $7.4 million shortfall projected over the next two years.

The process has been transparently open with input sought by president Ken Dobbins from all segments of the area the committee serves.

I sat in on two sessions last week, including a revisit to the university's strategic plan as recommended by board of regents member Jim Limbaugh.

I was favorably impressed with the discussions, suggestions and lack of whining or negative comments. All in all, it was a serious situation being addressed seriously.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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