A vacancy for Zone One is visible on a set of official portraits of the mayor and city council members that hangs in a hallway at Springfield Historic City Hall. A portrait of former councilwoman Angela Romine was removed from the frame shortly after she vacated her seat in February 2022. (Photo by Rance Burger)

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Five persons are interested in one vacant spot on the Springfield City Council. The person chosen to represent Zone One, or northwestern Springfield, will likely take office and begin serving in April.

City Clerk Anita Cotter and Mayor Ken McClure have both been out of their offices at City Hall on vacations. On March 21, they will compile a list of questions that will be sent to all five applicants by email. The messages will be sent at the same time so that each applicant will be given an equal period of time to respond.

“Those questions will be emailed to all of the individuals that applied, there are five. Usually, we give them about two weeks,” Cotter said. “Once all of those answers come back, all of those answers will be put in a notebook with the applications, resumes, all of the different things, and they’ll all be provided to council.”

The Springfield City Council will meet and interview each of the five applicants in person.

“From that interview, they’ll appoint, and usually they will appoint that day,” Cotter said.

At the next city council meeting after the interviews and decision, the new Zone One city councilperson will take their oath of office at the start of the meeting and begin serving immediately.

The additional screening questions for the candidates will be compiled by Mayor McClure and the city clerk. Seated members of the city council have had the opportunity to provide questions they would like asked of the applicants.

Cotter said that a more definite timeline of events will be set on March 21.

Who are the applicants?

Karen Evans Banta is self-employed and has lived in Springfield for six years. She is from western Missouri and worked in early childhood development in the Lamar School District as a Parents as First Teachers instructor. Her volunteering experience ranges from going on international mission trips to leading Cub Scouts.

Amy Blansit holds a Doctorate in Health Sciences and works for Missouri State University as a kinesiology instructor. She is also the CEO and founder of the Drew Lewis Foundation. She is active with the Springfield Community Gardens Advisory Board and with the Grant Beach Neighborhood Association.

Monica Horton runs a consulting business, Lenica Consulting Group, which holds a contract with Missouri State University to work on the Springfield Inclusion Study. Horton holds masters degrees in public administration and in music therapy. She serves on the Mayor’s Commission for Children and the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Fund Board.

Kathy Hubbard is a registered nurse who retired from the Mercy health system in 2013. She co-owns a business that sells jams and relishes through Farmers Market of the Ozarks and is a member of the Missouri State University Founders Club.

Stephen Sexton is a Springfield native who graduated from Hillcrest High School and left Springfield when he joined the U.S. Army in 1968. According to his resume, he was self-employed for 20 years then retired to his hometown in 2015. He volunteers with efforts to improve and clean up the Woodland Heights neighborhood and indicates that he volunteers as an election judge in Greene County.

The person who is chosen and appointed to represent Zone One will serve on the city council until the term expires April 4, 2023.

Springfield City Council members are not paid salaries or stipends for their service, according to the Springfield City Charter. The charter specifies that they may be reimbursed for “any necessary specific expenses incurred in connection with their duties as provided by ordinance or resolution of the Council prior to incurring such expenses.”

Why is there a vacancy?

The city of Springfield announced a vacancy on the city council about four hours after Angela Romine filed to run for the Missouri Senate on Feb. 22. It was about 8:30 p.m., within half an hour of the end of a meeting from which Romine was noticeably absent.

“Serving and being your voice has been an honor and privilege,” Romine said in a statement acknowledging her vacation of office. “I have enjoyed it immensely.”

Romine said she knew that filing to run for the Missouri General Assembly would disqualify her from serving on the Springfield City Council.

“I was aware, which is why it was a difficult decision,” Romine said.

In a document provided to the Hauxeda, Romine used the word “resigned” to describe her effort to run in the Republican primary for Missouri Senate District 30 in August. Romine will challenge incumbent Lincoln Hough, also a Republican from Springfield, who has held office for four years.

After seeing Romine's candidacy filing on the Missouri Secretary of State’s website on Feb. 22, Mayor McClure called the city manager and then the city clerk. They spoke with the city attorney to make sure their collective reading of the city charter was correct.

McClure stepped out of the city council chambers during a hearing and reportedly had a telephone conversation with Romine, leaving Councilman Craig Hosmer to preside over a hearing about a tax increment financing proposal for a development in southwestern Springfield called Brody Corners. McClure returned to the chamber before the hearing concluded.

A statement issued from the city of Springfield on Feb. 22 cited a clause in Springfield's city charter that declares a council seat vacant if the person holding it seeks to run for another office.

“No councilmember shall be a candidate or nominee for or hold any other lucrative public office or hold a lucrative position in the city government during his or her term as councilmember,” the law reads, in part.

Romine was elected in the municipal elections in April 2021 and took office on April 19, 2021. Romine defeated Isabelle Jimenez Walker 1,211-1,031, and received 54.01 percent of the vote in the Zone 1 election in doing so.

Qualifications for Springfield City Council Zone One

  • Must be a registered voter in the city of Springfield
  • Must have been a resident of the city of Springfield for at least two years prior to appointment
  • Must have been a resident of Zone One for at least one year immediately prior to appointment
  • Must not be disqualified from serving after being convicted of a felony.
  • Must not be disqualified from serving due to being delinquent on state and local tax payments.
  • Must have completed and filed Missouri Department of Revenue form 5120 per state law RsMO 115.306(2). Applications without Missouri Department of Revenue Form 5120 will not be accepted.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger is the managing editor for the Daily Citizen. He previously covered local governments from February 2022 to April 2023. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 17 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@hauxeda.com or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger