It has long been the goal of 24tState to be an independent source of breaking news and information with a special focus on equipping voters with specific tactics to act civicly in their own best interest which we can do because we are insiders. Key among these interests is the local fire district elections. The latest occurrence in a crucial race is something we have never seen before but one that is likely a harbinger of things to come.
See the following from an email blast by a taxpayer group in the Monarch Fire District reporting that voters in these normally low key races will see two prominent Republican names square off. All taxpayers need to pay attention to this because there is a simple logic behind the madness.
Yesterday the Monarch Fire Board race went from a four-way contest to a conventional race between two opponents. Current Union Director Kim Evans and recent Union recruit Russell Lake both withdrew from this election, leaving only Union Candidate Cole McNary and Independent Jane Cunningham. We believe the Union strategy shifted when Rick Gans withdrew from this race last week and was replaced with the popular Cunningham. Gans tells us he is not surprised by Evans' withdrawal as he was shocked she even filed given her record of tax increases and support of billing residents for ambulance service. Apparently Lake, a protégé of Union Director Swyers, decided he was not ready to do battle in this election.
Now that the final candidates are clearly known, Cunningham's task will be to make sure that voters know they are choosing between her opponent, who will serve the Union as Evans so ably did for six years, and her, with her well-established record of being the voice of the taxpayers. We will watch as McNary tries to use his credentials as a former Republican office holder and his father's well recognized name to make it appear he will be the choice of conservative voters. The "new" McNary received Union support last year in his failed Treasurer's race and he has already surprisingly declared to several that the Union is supporting him in this race.We will be updating the website with this development in the next 24 hours.
The reason Jane Cunningham is running instead of Rick Gans is that defeat of any union fire district candidate requires hurculearn effort. The union firefighters have every reason to "invest" in campaign cash and time in order to elect the people that determine whether they work less for more or work even less for even more. The taxpayer candidate has to raise funds from friends and family. The typically Monarch candidate will spend $20,000 to the union's $100,000. For taxpayers to look to a seasoned politician with a broad donor base is a shrewd move. Gans, a businessman, made a very selfless act by stepping aside. One can only imagine the pressure placed on Evans to step down from her $1000 per month pay and generous health insurance benefits.
Here is the inside baseball. The other reason firfighters all over St. Louis spend so much on Monarch races is that the union in every other district can point to Monarch as a justification to request more pay. "We do not need to make as much as Monarch, but be close, otherwise we risk losing our best firefighters to them". That is the argument. The typical Monarch firefighter receives well over $100k in compensation and benefits in exchange for spending eight 24hr shifts doing that unique job.
Here is another insight into the sad, but dirty politics. Cole McNary is running to join Steve Swyers and Robyn Harris now that Evans stepped aside. Thanks to the tireless work of the watchdog group Monarch Concerned Taxpayers, everyone knows that Swyers' consistent votes in concert with Evans and against Harris reveal that he was lying to voters when he promised to be the taxpayers' candidate, denying he was allied with his son's fellow union firefighters. While "low information voters" fell pray to the machine behind first time candiidate Swyers, the taxpayers paying attention knew that Gans was their guy, clearly on the side of taxpayers.
The taxpayers again, have their "guy" in Jane Cunningham. Now that the union candidate Evans is gone, the union clearly is behind McNary. McNary is now faced with a bigger challenge than Swyers in convincing voters he is independent of the union. Will he really try to tell voters that the union is sitting this one out, content to allow the taxpayers to enjoy a 2:1 majority with Swyers being their only loyalist? Will McNary's former Chesterfield constituents naively retain their trust for the guy who represented them for six years and be shocked when he joins the cagey Swyers and votes with the union? This is going to be a very hard sell for McNary and the union, but they probably have $100k to spend several times over. Taxpayers can only hope that Cunningham can bring her own significant connections and resources to bear as the banner carrier for taxpayers and that voters will see through efforts by McNary to steal that banner.