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New faces on Independence City Council

Mike Genet

There will be three new members of the Independence City Council this month.

Two new members had been assured, as one incumbent lost in the primary and another decided not to seek re-election. But in Independence’s District 2, generally the northeast portion of the city, Brice Stewart easily ousted two-term incumbent Curt Dougherty.

Stewart, a systems analyst for Jackson County’s IT department, garnered 64 percent of the votes to Dougherty’s 35 percent – 1,082 to 592.

Mike Steinmeyer and Dan Hobart will be the other new council members.

Hobart, a private practice attorney, is the new representative for District 4, generally the southwest portion of Independence, after he edged Chris Heitzman by just 72 votes – 1,097 (51 percent) to 1,025 (48 percent). Those two had defeated incumbent Tom Van Camp in the primary.

Steinmeyer, a Navy veteran and Realtor, bested Dan O’Neill, 52 to 47 percent, or 1,486 votes to 1,348 in District 3. He will succeed Scott Roberson, who decided not to run again after six years on the council representing the southeast portion.

John Perkins ran unopposed in District 1 and will serve a second term representing the northwest portion.

Stewart ran unsuccessfully against Dougherty four years ago and also has been on the ballot for county sheriff and county legislator in the past few years, but said he was not completely surprised by the win.

“I knew I had a chance, but I thought it would be a close race,” Stewart said. “Obviously it’s going to be a learning experience.”

Stewart, who describes himself a fiscal conservative, said he wouldn’t approve smart meters for the city utilities if the matter happened to come up again and vowed to “listen to the people I work for.”

Dougherty and Steinmeyer could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Hobart said he wants to slow down special projects and focus more on the basics of running through the city right now, though before long he hopes to help push for a city charter review.

“I’m fairly methodical, so I like to get my footing before trying to speed through,” Hobart said of joining the council. “Obviously it’s a very rough situation we’re going to be in with the budget, but that might give us new council members time to really learn.”

“(A charter review) would be huge, but it has to be done carefully and thoughtfully.”