Changes ahead in Chesterfield: Two councilmembers vying for title of mayor
By: Carol Enright
As the April 2 election approaches, West County residents have many races to consider. But one, in particular, seems to loom a little larger. In Chesterfield, current Councilmembers, Bob Nation and Matt Segal, are vying for the office that Mayor Bruce Geiger is vacating. Whoever takes over as Chesterfield’s next mayor will have a full plate that includes two new outlet malls and an ongoing fight to change a tax pool system that the city says unfairly strips it of millions of sales tax dollars.
Recently West Newsmagazine sat down with both candidates, but before the Q&A began, each man wanted to clarify that Bob Nation is not related to former Chesterfield Mayor John Nations.
MATT SEGAL, 34
Public service experience: Chesterfield City Councilmember (Ward 1) since 2009
Occupation: Executive Vice President, Berkadia
Personal: Married, with two children, ages 6 and 3
Fun fact: Segal’s six-year-old daughter attends kindergarten at Green Trails Elementary, the same school her father attended.
Matt Segal is quick to tell you that he is Chesterfield born and raised.
“The main reason I got involved in public service was that I love Chesterfield. I grew up here,” Segal said. “And once I decided that we were going to start a family and live in Chesterfield, I wanted to make sure Chesterfield is as great a place for my children as it was for me growing up.”
Segal said that even though he came onto the council as an unknown, “I grew as a leader.”
With four years of experience – and the unexpected announcement that Mayor Bruce Geiger would not seek re-election – Segal said, “the timing was right” to run for mayor.
Segal also said he is running because he has the backing of the majority of the City Council and current Mayor Geiger “to carry on the torch of the next generation of leadership of Chesterfield.”
“I would not run if I did not have the support of my peers,” he said.
Segal addressed his priorities, should he become Chesterfield’s next mayor.
“I think it’s important to provide the highest quality services with the least amount of taxes coming in, so stretching the tax dollars,” Segal said. “I also want to make sure that Chesterfield government is always responsive and accessible to all residents – so continuing to evolve with technology and funneling information out to the community as much as possible.”
He said he would “maintain (Chesterfield’s) strong financially sound position.”
And he talked about “strengthening (Chesterfield’s) community partnerships with the schools, businesses and faith-based organizations,” primarily as those relationships relate to public safety.
“I’ve already talked to Speaker of the House Tim Jones, the Parkway School Board and others, figuring out a way to provide the appropriate protection of our children at our schools,” Segal said.
He shared his thoughts on the issues that the new outlet malls will present to the next mayor.
“We need to focus on the citizens,” he said. “Focus on the citizens means keeping the residential, residential, the commercial in the commercial areas and making sure that the traffic impact – since we are becoming a destination location – is minimized as much as possible to keep the quality of life in Chesterfield premier.”
The candidate said he would continue Geiger’s efforts to reform the current sales tax pool system.
“We want to be rewarded for the risk that we take as a city and the economic development that we encourage,” Segal said.
BOB NATION, 62
Public service experience: Chesterfield City Councilmember (Ward 4) since 2007
Occupation: Retired military and commercial airline pilot; real estate agent
Personal: Married, with three grown children, two grandchildren
Fun fact: One of Nation’s sons played baseball at Lafayette with David Freese.
Bob Nation has lived in Chesterfield for 33 years. When he retired from the airline industry six-and-a-half years ago, Nation said he was not looking to get into public service. Mary Brown, a former Ward 4 councilmember, asked him to run for the seat she was vacating.
“It wasn’t something I sought to do,” he said, “but I agreed to do it.”
Nation, whose two-year term is up in April, said he was undecided about whether he would seek re-election on the council until he heard that Geiger was stepping down as mayor.
“As mayor, I think I would have an opportunity to provide the guidance and leadership and direction that our city needs and, along with that, some increased transparency and a little more forthrightness,” Nation said.
He said he is running is “to represent the taxpayers – the residents and the businesses – in the most responsible expenditure of their taxpayer dollars.”
He also said he would re-examine how the city uses its fund reserves.
“What I would favor is, instead of looking for ways to spend the excess funds, that we should look for ways either to roll back the tax levies so that we don’t collect more than what we need or provide increased and better services.”
Nation anticipates that two new outlet malls will place additional demands on the city’s law enforcement and public works departments.
“I’m confident, because I view our finances as extremely healthy, that we’ll be able to absorb those additional costs,” he said.
He said he would continue to fight for tax pool reform, but he does not think Chesterfield should go it alone.
“I think if there’s any change to be made it’s going to be by virtue of several cities working together to effect a modification of the current system,” he said.
Nation does not shy away from being called an “outsider” on the current Council.
“People say that the current mayor and the other Councilmembers have endorsed the other guy, and that’s fine and good,” Nation said. “But the reality of it is, regardless of who is elected mayor, whether it be me or Matt, the composition of the Council is going to be a lot different.”
He added that he has the support of Councilmember Barry Flachsbart (Ward 1), as well as candidates vying for spots on the Council.
“If I am elected, it will be a cohesive group – and we’ll have a new level of transparency and we’ll do good things for the city,” Nation said.