Quite unlike 2016, when he ran unopposed for a third term, Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross officially will have multiple challengers.
Candidate filing for the April 7 election closed Tuesday, and barring any withdrawals Ross will be challenged by current City Council Members Chris Lievsay and Susan Culpepper and former Council Member Dale Carter. Lievsay (District 2) and Culpepper (3) both won re-election last year, while Carter represented District 1 for three three-year terms before he lost another bid last year.
Blue Springs does not have a primary election, making for a crowded ballot, though Ross appears unfazed as he seeks a fourth four-year term.
“I think everybody wants to be part of the success,” he said, comparing the city now to 12 years ago. “We didn't have Adams Dairy Parkway (and much surrounding commercial development), and we don't have the blight anymore at (U.S.) 40 and (Missouri) 7.
“That didn't happen by osmosis; it took work. I've been involved regionally and at the state level. Nothing keeps the city in the forefront like being involved. You've got to be engaged.”
Ross, 73, also pointed to his current seat on the board of directors of the Mid-America Regional Council as well as leading MARC's transportation policy committee and his past presidency of the Missouri Municipal League. Lievsay was also president in 2019.
“You've got to be selected by your peers,” Ross said.
Ross acknowledged that perhaps some thought he might not run after his wife Eloise died last year following a lengthy illness. He said there is a void without having someone who had been in his life 50 years, but “now I have even more time to dedicate to being mayor.”
Lievsay, first elected to the council in 2010, announced a month after re-election that he would run for mayor, and Ross said after Lievsay’s announcement there was “no doubt” he would run again.
Carter announced in August 2019 he also would run, saying he it was something he'd planned to do regardless of last April's election and that cooperation and collaboration were essential to making Blue Springs strong for future generations.
Culpepper, who was unopposed last April, announced her candidacy in September, saying she felt it was time for her as she believed her years of experience on the council and Planning Commission and with budget work gave her a lot to offer.
“The only thing I can focus on is my record,” Ross said. They'll have to speak on what they think they can do.
“We'll see what the people decide; it's in the the people's hands.”
In addition to the mayoral race, the incumbents for all three council seats up for election in April – Jerry Kaylor (District 1), Kent Edmondson (2) and Ron Fowler (3) – filed to run. Kaylor will be unopposed, while Edmondson and Fowler will face challengers, as Planning Commission member Byron Craddolph has filed to run in District 2, generally the central third of the city, while small business owner Benjamin Bitler has filed in District 3, generally the southern third of the city.
Edmondson, first elected in 2008, has won re-election three times, while Fowler has been on the council since 1992 and serves as mayor pro tem.