Ward 3 race for Cape council set

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Ellen Dillon

On Tuesday afternoon, Trent Summers made a telephone call to Ellen Dillon, his opponent in the lone contested race for Cape Girardeau City Council next year.

The two had never met, so he introduced himself and they chatted briefly about what they hoped the tone of the campaign would be between now and the April 3 election.

"We both want to continue to be respectful," Dillon said. "We're both intelligent and respectful people who happen to want the same job."

Trent Summers

Later in the day Tuesday it became official -- Dillon and Summers will face off as the only two candidates in the Ward 3 race to determine who will replace Debra Tracy, who has opted not seek another term.

At 5 p.m., the filing period closed with no last-minute filings, said city clerk Gayle Conrad -- no surprise considering no one else had picked up election petitions that require 50 signatures from registered voters from each of the perspective ward races.

All of the petitions have been certified, Conrad said, noting that Dillon's additional signatures were deemed sufficient after she gathered more because four of her original signatures were disqualified, leaving her two short.

In wards 4 and 5, which also were up for grabs, incumbents Loretta Schneider and Mark Lanzotti will retain their seats because their races drew no opposition.

Now, only voters in the central-city Ward 3 have a choice for who will represent them on the council. And if the Tuesday afternoon conversation between the candidates bears out, it looks to be a largely civil contest.

"I'm planning on going out and running a positive campaign," said Summers, a 32-year-old account executive with Red Letter Communications. "I'm not running against Ellen. I'm running for city council."

Summers, also the husband of Cape Girardeau County Clerk Kara Clark Summers, intends to meet as many Ward 3 voters as possible in the next four months or so. He wants to make his case about why he can be an effective councilman, he said.

Summers was the chairman for the Yes for Gaming campaign committee that helped persuade voters to approve a $125 million gambling boat coming to Cape Girardeau. But he also points to his experience in government, which includes employment stints for the state of Missouri, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and for prominent Republicans including Matt Blunt and Sen. John Ashcroft.

"I think we can always do better," Summers said. "I think the primary concern everybody has right now is jobs." Summers said he thinks the best thing the city can do is make the best case it can to possible employers that Cape Girardeau is the best place to relocate.

For her part, Dillon, 53, said she has lived in the ward longer and more consistently as Summers traveled outside the city for other jobs in Jefferson City.

The Southeast Missouri State University speech and communications instructor believes that experience in state-level government probably doesn't give Summers an advantage at a municipal level.

"The state government operates much differently than a town government," she said. "I've spent a good deal of my adult life here and I've been very active. ... He might not be as in touch with the day-to-day life in Cape as I have been."

With the filing deadline past, Conrad said she has until Jan. 24 to file an election notice with the county clerk's office. Since no primary is required, Conrad said she probably will send the notice next week.

Even though Lanzotti and Schneider are the lone candidates in their wards, Conrad said, elections will still be held to voters in those wards on April 3.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

401 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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