A new look for City Council

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 11, 2014 

The women took three seats on Lee’s Summit City Council with Diane Seif, Diane Forte and Trish Carlyle winning their races.

Mayor Randy Rhoads, Councilman Dave Mosby and Municipal Judge Dana Altieri were unopposed in re-election bids. The winners will serve four-year terms. Ed Cockrell and Kathy Hofmann left office because of term limits and Brian Whitley chose not to seek reelection.

In 2002 there had been a woman mayor, Karen Messerli, and two councilwomen elected Christine Bushyhead and Tess Hurley. But not since 1992 have three women served who can regularly vote on ordinances at one time. (The mayor only votes when there is a tie on the council.) In 1992 Kay Ford, Deb Edwards and Messerli were on the Board of Aldermen and in 1993 Messerli, Chere Chaney and Kay Ford were serving.

Forte said she thought that she, Seif and Carlyle would “gel” together. She said each of them are at different points in their lives and bring a particular perspective to the council.

“I think the three of us will do a good job,” Forte said. “I’m ready to jump right into the middle of it and hope the good stuff comes to the top.”

Rhoads said he didn’t think the new mix of gender is as important as the fact there are newcomers to the council.

“There will be new people there, so there will be a new dynamic,” Rhoads said.

The newly elected council members are to be sworn in on April 24.

Forte, who won the District 1 seat with 997 votes to Robert Dye’s 454 votes, said she was really thankful for the help of her campaign supporters. Dye said he thought newspaper coverage of the campaign distorted his views and undercut his support. He said reports of sign stealing inappropriately left an impression he was behind the thefts. He said he’d hoped to be able to serve the community, but with the outcome he’ll have more time for hunting and fishing and activities he enjoys.

“I’m a winner either way,” Dye said.

Seif in the District 3 race had 822 votes, beating Joseph Spallo who had 608 votes. Spallo had served four terms before sitting out one election cycle due to term limits.

Seif said she and her husband visited 1,025 homes and her campaign volunteers went to another 800. She said that working the polls Tuesday, voters told her, “It was when you actually came to our door that we knew we were going to vote for you,” she said. Seif said that kind of personal touch is what’s needed to win an election in Lee’s Summit.

Seif said she hopes to have an influence on cooperation between council members as a lot of comments she’d heard during the campaign were regarding the council’s interactions.

“I’m feeling extremely excited and challenged,” Seif said. “It is exciting and at the same time makes you feel responsible to people you’re going to represent.”

Spallo did not return calls for comments.

Carlyle won a close three-way race with 658 votes, edging out Craig Faith who had 633 votes, both well ahead of Timothy Denker with 555 votes.

Carlyle said she and her volunteers had been working very hard.

“When people asked me how it was going, I said ‘We’ll find out in April if hard work pays off, because we’ve been working it hard.’”

Faith said he had great time campaigning and meeting people in the community, and it was a good race.

“We were really close, it is what it is,” Faith said. “I plan to do is to get behind Trish for the good of the city.”

Faith and Denker each said they intend to continue being active in the community as they had been before seeking office.

Carlyle said that having three women on the council “more equally represents the citizens of Lee’s Summit, we’ll have a lot of different perspectives coming to the table.”

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