Make that three challengers for next year's Blue Springs mayoral race.
Susan Culpepper, a seven-year member of the City Council, announced this week she plans to run in the April mayoral election.
She will join former three-term District 1 Council Cember Dale Carter and current District 2 Council Member Chris Lievsay in challenging Mayor Carson Ross, who is in his third term leading Blue Springs.
Culpepper, who has been an accounting controller for private and public health entities, served 21 years on the Planning Commission before she was elected to the council in 2013 to represent District 3, roughly the southern third of the city. She also served on the Downtown Alive! board of directors and participated in police and fire citizens academies.
Running for mayor has been on her mind a couple years, she said.
“I just feel like it's time for me,” Culpepper said. “I know I have a lot to offer, a lot of experience, and I'm ready to put my experience to work.”
Particularly, she said, her years on the Planning Commission provided great insight.
“I feel like if you're going to be involved in a city, you need to have that background,” Culpepper said. “When you're on the Planning Commission, you learn an awful lot; you learn how it all works.”
“I've worked on budgets my whole life. I've learned a lot working under Carson Ross; he's been a great mentor. I'm ready to make that move.”
Culpepper also pointed to her collaborative work with both fire protection districts that cover Blue Springs, including an eventual new fire station on the south edge of the city that Prairie Township fire personnel cover.
In a video post announcing her bid, Culpepper said the city must find ways to continue adequate funding for healthy infrastructure, have amenities to both attract new businesses and retain current ones, continue to offer competitive compensation for all city employees and maintain fiscal responsibility through it all.
“All these issues require a well-balanced budget, and that sometimes requires making tough decisions,” she said in a video announcing her bid.
Culpepper was unopposed in April, when, like Lievsay, she was re-elected to the council. Lievsay announced a month later he would be running for mayor, and Ross, whose wife recently died after a lengthy illness, said at the time “Let there be no doubt” he would run for re-election. Carter, who lost his own council re-election bid in April, announced his mayoral bid last month.
Culpepper said the mayor has known she'd been thinking of a mayoral bid, so it shouldn't be a surprise.
“He and I are friends, and we will stay friends, but I needed to do this,” she said.
“It's going to be interesting, I will say that,” she said of the four-person race. “But competition's good, and it makes people think about what they believe is best for the city.”