Filing forces mayoral primary

Thursday, November 1, 2001

When former Cape Girardeau city councilman Melvin Gateley filed for mayor Wednesday, he set up a three-way race that will force the city's first mayoral primary since 1986.

Gateley will face banker Jay Knudtson and Walter White, who works at Superior Essex Co. in Sikeston, Mo., meaning there will be a Feb. 2 primary to whittle the number to two before the April 2 general election.

They will vie for the seat being vacated by Mayor Al Spradling III, who cannot run again because of term limits. Gateley lost an election for mayor to Spradling in 1994.

Gateley is running on a platform of city beautification, updating the city's comprehensive plan, addressing storm-water problems and more tourism.

He said he's glad to have the competition.

"It's good to have as many candidates as possible," said Gateley, 75, a retired Cape Girardeau school principal and Ward 5 councilman from 1992 to 2000. "The more candidates there are shows that there is more interest by the people of Cape Girardeau in their government. It makes it interesting."

Other battles for city council seats are brewing.

In Ward 1, incumbent Frank Stoffregen will face antique-shop owner Evelyn Boardman. In Ward 2, George Reutzel, a Cape Girardeau contractor, has filed against Charlie Herbst, a former community police officer who now works at Innovative Idea Integration in Jackson, Mo. They are seeking the seat to be vacated by Councilman Tom Neumeyer.

Only Ward 6 -- currently occupied by Richard "Butch" Eggimann -- has drawn no applicants, with the Nov. 20 filing deadline approaching. But Eggimann said he knows of a candidate who plans to file. "I talked to him yesterday, he's going to file, but I don't want to name him yet," Eggimann said.

Eggimann, also a victim to term limits, says he likes to see a wide pool of candidates.

"It gives a variety and it makes debates more spirited," Eggimann said. "People should be involved in their city for sure, and I hope more will file."

Don't look for the campaigns to get ugly publicly.

"I have nothing bad whatsoever to say about Charlie Herbst," said Reutzel. "He's a fine man, he's a working man just like I am. We both just want to help the city. Either one of us will do a fine job."

Reutzel said he wants to run because he does not approve of some things the council has done, though he declined to discuss those matters. He said he will reveal his complaints as the campaign gets under way.

Knudtson, an executive vice president at Bank of America, said that he welcomes Gateley to the race.

"I'm thoroughly excited about the diversity that's out there," Knudtson said. "We've got good representation from all sexes and different races, with the filing deadline still open."

335-6611, extension 137

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