After six years on the job, Ernie Jungmeyer is not seeking another term as mayor of Peculiar. Four people want to replace him.
The candidates are business owner Michael Gallagher, stay-at-home mom Kimberly Mallinson, attorney and business owner Deborah Pearson, and independent insurance agent Holly Stark.
Stark and Gallagher serve on the city’s Board of Aldermen.
Gallagher, 63, is the only candidate to have previously run for mayor in Peculiar. He came in second place among three candidates in 1984.
If elected this time around, Gallagher said he won’t be afraid of helping out where he can.
“I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get myself dirty,” Gallagher said. “That includes if the boys need help out there at a busted water line or sewer line, I’d be the first to jump in the hole.”
Stark, 43, is also a familiar face in Peculiar government. She is in her fifth term as alderwoman, presently serving as mayor pro tem.
“I want Peculiar to be an economically viable community for the future,” Stark said. “I don’t know that when my children grow up if they will want to live in Cass County or Peculiar.
“But if they do, I want to know that it is a community that doesn’t become like Greenwood – where they just become a part of Lee’s Summit because they’ve lost their identity and their ability to create a tax base. I want Peculiar to be able to maintain their identity.”
Candidates agree that this is a pivotal time for city growth.
For the fourth time in four years, city officials will be bringing to voters the question of imposing a 1-cent-per-gallon fuel tax for street improvements.
“The fuel tax will provide the necessary revenue for Peculiar’s street maintenance,” said Mallinson, 30. “However, this has been put forth to the voters before and has yet to pass. I don’t think it should have been put on the ballot until there was more voter support.
“The city should look into why it hasn’t passed yet and what can be done to alleviate those concerns.”
Gallagher supports the initiative.
“We really need the fuel tax,” he said. “A lot of people do not understand is that the new subdivisions will need resurfacing very soon. We do not have the funds to do this.”
More highway access is also on the horizon with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s interchange project at 211th Street.
The town now has only has one interchange on Interstate 49.
“Peculiar has the good fortune of being part of this amazing 1,700-mile highway economic development opportunity,” Pearson, 44, said. “This interstate will be able to put Peculiar on the map as far as a destination city, as well as place for new business to take advantage of its location on this massive international highway.”
Access to the interstate can create economic growth and a strong workforce, and improve city infrastructure, she said.
“Peculiar is on a steady path of expansion that will significantly improve the quality of life for the residents, as well as increase the tax revenue for the city,” Pearson said.
Stark says the city also needs to make sure it has all the economic tools that are available to draw new businesses to the interchange.
“Peculiar needs to have a strong and professional voice that will advocate for more state and federal dollars for roads and other infrastructure,” Stark said. “Our approach ... should be to bring businesses that have a regional draw.
“We should not compete with our surrounding cities to go after similar types of businesses.”
Several candidates also want to make it easier for businesses to come to Peculiar.
“Peculiar needs to make the process for getting a business started more streamlined and make the information that a potential business needs more easily accessible,” Mallinson said. “If we want to bring new business here then we need to be on the same level as the surrounding cities who are managing to attract businesses.”