ELECTIONS: Candidate profiles for April 5

Posted 3/31/22

Elections for local city governments, school boards, and emergency service districts will be held this Tuesday, April 5. Each election, we ask the candidates in competitive races to complete a …

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ELECTIONS: Candidate profiles for April 5


Elections for local city governments, school boards, and emergency service districts will be held this Tuesday, April 5. Each election, we ask the candidates in competitive races to complete a questionnaire summarizing who they are and what they want to accomplish as an elected representative. Below are the responses from candidates in races around Warren County. Candidates for each race are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.


Gary Miller

Age: 75
Occupation: Retired
Previous public office: 4 years as a Warrenton alderman, 25 years on the Warren County Ambulance District Board of Directors
Reason to seek election: To help Warrenton plan for growth, plan ahead to have infrastructure ready for the growth, and seek new companies to locate in Warrenton.
Top priorities:
1) Total transparency in all aspects of city government.
2) Always be open for input from residents.
3) Have open debates among all aldermen to solve difficult issues.
Qualifications: I can provide experienced leadership to the board.
Other comment: I research all issues that come before the board before making my decisions.

Nicholas Sperlo

Age: 35
Occupation: Apprentice electrician, civil process server
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: I feel it is time for a new individual with a less familiar name to take a seat as an alderman. Warrenton has had many of the same faces on the board of aldermen for many terms. The aldermen tend to represent the middle aged to senior constituency. As Warrenton grows quickly and a younger generation prepares to become more involved with the city, I will close the gap, giving the younger generation someone to relate to, as well as someone all generations can be comfortable with.
Top priorities:
1) Transparency by way of communication with the constituency.
2) Preventing our high sales taxes from growing.
3) Protecting individual liberty.
Other comment: I am just a regular person who would be happy to represent Ward 3 as an alderman. I have two jobs and am not putting myself forward just because I have the time or because I can. I’m putting myself forward because I care and believe I can make a difference.

John Clark

Age: 68
Occupation: Retired business owner
Previous public office: Warrenton aldermen 1989-1994, 2007-2014
Reason to seek election: I care about Warrenton, Warren County, and the people who live here. I don’t have an ax to grind or an agenda. I’m running because I care and would be happy to once again serve the residents of Ward 3.
Top priorities:
1) I believe in economic development as a key to quality of life in our community. We must have jobs that pay a living wage to have a vibrant and strong community.
2) I am also a strong proponent of effective planning and zoning to help our community grow in a manner that serves us all.
Qualifications: In addition to my previous service as an alderman, I was the owner of a local small business in the transportation industry for 30 years. I worked in the industry for 40 years. My wife, Mary Jane, and I have been married nearly 47 years, and have lived and raised our family here.
During that time, I have remained an active member of the Warrenton Lions Club, supporting community service projects and programs for the sight and hearing impaired. In 2014 I was elected to serve as Lions 26 M-3 district governor, representing 50 clubs in east and central Missouri.
When our son and daughter were young, I coached community youth baseball and served as a scout leader for Boy Scout Troop 27 and Girl Scout Troop 2767.
Other comment: I have enjoyed giving back to the community and I am willing to serve this community that has been very good to me and my family.



Sarah Janes

Age: 32
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, Substitute teacher
Previous public office: R-III school board since June 2020
Reason to seek election: I am passionate about education and I love Warren County. I have had the honor and privilege of serving on the WCR3 Board of Education since first elected in June of 2020, and I am eager to problem solve as we all move forward after the difficult two years we have collectively faced.
Top priorities:
1) Growing our financial health.
2) Growing educational opportunities for every student.
3) Growing relationships between the community and district.
Qualifications: I have earned three levels of certification through the Missouri School Board Association, which include the Essential, Advanced, and Master levels of certification. These involve multiple book studies, extra professional development events, and additional hours of research. I am a parent to four children (two that are in elementary school); therefore I have a personal interest in the future of the district and I am a 2008 graduate of WHS. Also, I have substitute taught in the area districts since 2016, which offers me insight and perspective.
Other comment: I am a volunteer at heart and dedicate my time and talents at Grace Bible Church, the WISE Foundation, and at the Warrior Ridge PTO. To lead is to serve, and I believe our district deserves someone who will work tirelessly to provide the best opportunities of growth for our students; I dedicate multiple hours of preparation for each meeting and spend time investing in the various levels of our district. I take seriously the problem solving process and delight in seeing the wonderful things happening in the Warren County R-III schools.

Ginger Schenck

Age: 64
Occupation: Retired teacher and counselor
Previous public office: R-III school board, two terms
Reason to seek election: I am committed to our community and our district. I would like to work to build a vibrant, successful district that prepares students for the future.
Top priorities:
1) Increase enrollment in the A plus program at the high school, as well as increasing class offerings that prepare students for future educational opportunities and the workforce.
2) Increase MAP scores across the district with a focus on data analysis, research-based instructional practices, and program evaluations.
3) Increase community engagement by providing community forums to have conversations about district and community needs, attending more community events, and cultivating an environment of listening to understand.
Qualifications: My educational background helps me understand the educational challenges we face, but more importantly my experiences as a parent and a community member serve me well in connecting with the community. My board experience provides me with a sound foundation for examining future needs.
Other comment: We are all in this together. Our students, our community. My focus will always be on examining decisions in light of what is best for our students.

Carolyn Spraggs

Age: 36
Occupation: Business owner and office manager
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: I began attending school board meetings last year over Covid related concerns. There, I found that it seemed that the elected board members didn’t listen to the community and the parents. There was a lack of transparency and communication. I want to be a bridge between the community and the board.
Top priorities:
1) Implement my plan to designate one board member to each of our schools. That board member would become a point of contact for the families who have children at that school, and also they would be more knowledgeable about the needs of that school, its staff, and the building itself.
2) As a business owner, I will focus on a conservative balanced budget for our district.
3) The education of our students — this is the purpose of the district, thus it is of utmost importance. I believe we can improve this by focusing on the most up-to-date curriculum, our educator’s job satisfaction so that we can retain our wonderful educators, and community involvement so that the schools and children have our support.
Qualifications: I am a small business owner and I know that if I do not balance my budget, my family doesn’t eat. This is the same for the budget of our schools. Our educators rely on us to make wise financial decisions. Secondly, I am a parent. I have two children in our schools and a two year old. Finally, I am honest and transparent. My dream for this position is that we can collectively come up with solutions to the problems that our district is facing.
Other comment: I am not a politician. I never dreamed I would be running for office. I am a parent, wanting to give other parents and concerned community members a voice. I will work hard at being knowledgeable, informed, and transparent with my decisions made as a board member.


Megan Lett

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.

Sara Marcellino

Age: 42
Occupation: Homemaker, photographer
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: I believe in the importance of exemplary public education and that every unique child is deserving of an outstanding education. I seek to preserve and improve the quality of our district and know that the success of our present and future generations depends on actions we take now.
Top priorities:
1) Restore and support parental function and transparency in public education and to be a conservative voice in the major decision making that shapes and affects every aspect of our children’s education.
2) Collaboratively establish and pursue a vision for our schools that reflects the true needs of the students, the wishes of the voters, and the consensus of the community.
3) Remove sexually explicit material, critical race theory, and any injection of political agendas from our libraries and classrooms and promote fact-based learning.
Qualifications: I’m a passionate and patriotic mother of four who cares deeply about the future education of our children and the direction of our nation, which starts with positive action in our local communities and schools.
Other comment: I believe that transparency and teamwork are key.




Rachel Besselman

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.

Rich Barton

Age: 58
Occupation: Retired teacher
Previous public office: Warrenton Planning and Zoning Commission member
Reason to seek election: I have a platform that I can continue to sing the praises of our teachers and students and the great things they continue to accomplish. Doing this will shine a positive light on our district that will encourage others to join us.
Top priorities:
1) Student success and their well being.
2) Retaining quality teachers.
3) Creating a culture in our schools that our community can continue to be proud of.
Qualifications: Having taught high school for 29 years (26 here in Warrenton), and loving this community the way I do, makes me very qualified to serve our constituents on the board.
Other comment: Any good relationship is fostered by open communication and transparency, and I will do my best to bring all parties together so that everyone’s voice is heard and respected.



Merlyn Petersmeyer

Age: 77
Occupation: Retired
Previous public office: Ambulance Board for over 30 years
Reason to seek election: To be a benefit to both the employees and the taxpayers, and provide the best service possible for all involved.
Top priorities:
1) Comply with all directives as required by both state and federal regulations.
2) Fund the employees with the best possible wage and have the best service in the state.
Qualifications: During the 35 or so years that I have been on the board of directors, I have had the privilege of working with some of the finest members a member could hope for. As chairman for many years, I am so proud of the members that have been a part of this organization, past and present.
Other comment: I hope our taxpayers continue their support as we will continue to provide the best ambulance possible.

Malissa (Madame Voodoo) Booth

Age: 51
Occupation: Business owner, Madame Voodoo’s House of Ink
Previous public office: Warrenton Fire Protection Board of Directors, board president, 2017-2021
Reason to seek election: I have a passion for our first responder community and making sure our first responders have what they need to provide superior care and services to our community. Emergency services are critical to all of us, and my goal is to ensure that WCAD continues to lead in excellence regarding patient care while working to meet the needs of how quickly our county is growing.
Top priorities:
1) Meet with local agencies to assess the needs of our county and see how we can build an even stronger cohesive team of first responders to give our citizens the best emergency response team we can offer.
2) Assess budgetary needs of the county, and address any concerns.
3) Meet with residents to discuss the needs of providing excellence in patient care and what opportunities we can improve.
Qualifications: As former president of Warrenton Fire Protection District, I have worked with local first responders on different levels, and I see opportunities to grow WCAD, along with bridging gaps between all of our emergency service agencies, so our citizens have the absolute best patient care and fastest response times.
Other comment: I have been on the receiving end of needing emergency services in this county, and with being a rural county, every second is critical when you’re the one in need. I intend to use that experience, along with my knowledge as an elected official, to help grow WCAD to its full potential.




Caitlyn Struckhoff

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.


Clay Lively

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.



Elizabeth (Beth) Dean

Age: 38
Occupation: Lead compliance analyst, locally-based reinsurer
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: Our children are our greatest asset — each one is priceless, unique, and so full of potential. As their parents, we must be people of action, to ensure truth, freedom, excellence, and opportunity for the next generation. Like so many parents, I’ve realized that now is the time to be involved and engaged in our public education system. It is time for those of us who are actively raising our families and in touch with the issues they face to be involved and to bring transparency and a fresh set of eyes and perspectives to our school boards. The make up of a board should be well-rounded in its representation of the community that it serves, reflecting the various perspectives and values of community members; I want to bring some of that balance to our board.
Top priorities:
I want us to strengthen trust with the community, ensuring parents have confidence their thoughts and concerns will be represented within the board. We need to focus on increased proactive, transparent communication with parents and families. We must ensure we stay focused on the basics - reading, math, science, history - providing our students with a solid academic foundation. Wright City is going to see a great deal of growth in the next ten years and we will need to make wise decisions for our community and the direction of our district as we grow.
Qualifications: We have two children in the district, attending Wright City Middle School and Wright City West Elementary. Wright City has been home for our family for nearly 15 years; we are strongly vested in the community and directly impacted by the district’s decisions. Professionally, my background includes risk management, policy development, ethics, compliance, and regulatory monitoring.
Other comment: We have so many great things going on within our district and there are many things we can be proud of. As a district, Wright City is blessed with truly wonderful teachers and staff; their passion for their work, heart for their students, and contributions to our kids’ lives are invaluable. I believe we can work together as parents, teachers, administration, and board to strengthen trust and transparency, implement continuous improvement, and make wise choices for our community as we move into the years ahead.

Frank Zykan

Age: 45
Occupation: Owner, Frank Zykan Safe & Vault
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: To use my knowledge and experience to provide substantive representation for the students, parents, and other members of our community. I value public education and want our students to receive the best education that our tax dollars can provide.
Top priorities:
1) The construction of a new high school in a fiscally responsible manner.
2) Assess options for improving teacher retention and increasing new hires.
3) Implement strategies and set growth goals to increase student achievement and prevent loss of students to homeschooling and private institutions.
Qualifications: My expertise and experience owning and operating several businesses is very relevant to a position on the board of education. I have a kindergartner and a fifth-grader attending Wright City schools and will have a vested interest in their public education until 2034.
Other comment: I believe one of the largest strains between our existing board and parents is the staggering lack of communication. This results in many parents feeling ignored. I would offer meaningful engagement and complete transparency in order to establish and maintain positive relationships with our community.

Austin Jones

Age: 58
Occupation: Solution architect, Express Scripts
Previous public office: Wright City School Board
Reason to seek election: Dedication to students’ success is my agenda! Every student deserves access to the highest quality education. Together with the education professionals within the district, I strive to provide all kids the best opportunity to achieve their potential. Providing access to the highest quality education requires efficient use of financial resources, the ability to hire and evaluate a superintendent, and set policy and procedures to fulfill the requirements of the law and simultaneously meet the needs of the community. As a current school board member, I have the experience, the passion, and the vision to set goals and implement strategies to help all kids succeed!
Top priorities:
1) Student achievement ensuring our kids are either college or workforce ready.
2) Managing a budget that puts the classroom first.
3) Providing a safe learning environment.
These priorities are inter-related. As a board member I can make an impact by making sure the curriculum is aligned to state standards, the budget is classroom friendly, and approve policies and procedures that guide the educators in our district in providing the highest quality education for our kids.
Qualifications: So much of what occurs in a school district is outside of the school district’s control – everything from the pandemic, growth, and state and federal legislation. As an I.T. professional for over 35 years, I am trained to make objective decisions based upon data. I think the Wright City R-II School District will see many external events over the next several years impact school district operations and the school district needs someone who can objectively analyze and make decisions based on the information available. Continuing education is key and something I am committed to doing. I have earned both my MSBA Advanced and Master certificates.
Other comment: My wife Donna and I have been married for over 34 years. Donna graduated from the Wright City R-II School district and recently retired as a teacher from the district after 31 years. I am an active member of the Wright City Community, I volunteer my time and resources to the Wright City Lions Club, the Tribute to Veterans Memorial Committee and Blue and Gold Scholarship committee. The motto of Lions International is “We Serve.” It is something I strive to do each and every day.

Mary Groeper

Age: 69
Occupation: Retired Wright City business owner
Previous public office: Wright City School Board
Reason to seek election: I am seeking re-election because I am passionate about Wright City Schools and the Wright City Community. I have lived in Wright City for 49 years. My husband graduated from Wright City High School and so did our two daughters. Currently, I have two grandchildren in Wright City Schools. Aiden is in the middle school, eighth grade, and Isabel is at West Elementary, Fourth grade. During my years of service on the Wright City School Board I have seen many positive changes. I have been involved in many building projects, the implementing of many academic and sports programs, and the development of a sound working budget with clean audits. I would like to continue serving on the Wright City Board of Education and to be a part of the positive growth of our community.
Top priorities:
1) Seeing every student succeed, academically and personally.
2) The safety of our students and staff.
3) Financial stability and accountability to our district stakeholders.
Qualifications: I have served on the Wright City Board of Education for 27 years and on the Missouri School Board Association Board of Directors for 12 years. During this time, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge related to school board service and school operations. I have been involved in building a Middle School, East Elementary School, Central Office, and an Early Childhood Education Center. We are currently seeking community support to build a new High School with a no tax increase bond issue to be voted on at the April 5 election. We have added many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic) classes and activities from Legos Club at the elementary schools to aerospace engineering classes and robotics club at the high school. We have added football, volleyball, soccer, and wrestling to our sports programs, giving our students more sports scholarship opportunities. We added an experiential learning camp for all fifth graders in 2019. I was instrumental in adding a school sponsored after school care program at our elementary schools.
Other comment: Community involvement has always been a priority of my family! Currently I am serving as president of the Wright City Kiwanis. Our Kiwanis Club has opened a Sports Closet in town to serve all Wright City children with any sporting equipment they would ever need to participate in sports programs totally free of charge. I also serve as vice president of the Wright City Park Board. The Wright City Parks Department has recently partnered with the Wright City Schools to provide a youth basketball program which will serve as a feeder program for our young athletes.
I have no personal or political agendas when it comes to changes to Wright City Schools. I am opposed to any partisan agendas when it comes to school board members. As a board member we should be doing what is best for our students and community, putting politics aside. I would be honored to continue to work with fellow board members, administrators, teachers, staff, our students, parents, and the community to make Wright City School District one of the best school districts in the great state of Missouri.



Christopher DeVore

Age: 39
Occupation: Mechanical designer
Previous public office: Marthasville alderman, two terms
Reason to seek election: I enjoy being a part of something bigger than myself and helping make decisions for the greater good of the community. I want to be able to continue to help make decisions that will set this city up for success for many years to come.
Top priorities:
1) I am one of the alderman that stood up and fought to make sure that the contract for demolition of the old hat factory is being carried out as written and signed. So if re-elected, first and foremost my number one priority is to continue to keep everyone at city hall honest to make sure corruption and one sided selfish views are not part of what takes place in Marthasville City Hall.
2) I want to keep the deep well and water line project on track and complete the water line projects from the water study. I also want to make sure we keep an on going effort to upgrade streets and the cities infrastructure.
3) I want to make sure people know the board is currently not informed about all Sunshine Law requests, so I’ll make it a point to have requests communicated to the entire board and put in effect procedures to ensure people can have access to the information they are requesting.
Qualifications: I have been an alderman for two terms and acquired through experience and education extensive knowledge needed to hold this position. I also have been through several Missouri Municipal League training conferences and courses and will attend more educational courses for continuous improvement towards being an even better alderman.
Other comment: I have been a life long contributing member of this community and will continue to make decisions based on what is best, not just for one person or one small group, but for everyone and the greater good of the whole city and this community.


Christopher Pitucha

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.


Lauren Williams

No profile information has been received from this candidate at this time.



Amanda Meyer

I have been a resident of Marthasville for 12 years. I have served as a paramedic for 13 years in both rural and helicopter EMS. In May I will finish with my BSN RN and will start my new journey working in the cardiothoracic ICU.
I’m running for the Marthasville Community Ambulance District Board, District 6 (Dutzow area). Because of today’s emergency medical services, countless lives have been saved through the years. The main purpose of EMS is to provide immediate medical care. EMS exists in order to give us all a better quality of life.
As Marthasville residents, we have the privilege of having a strong EMS system. I want to continue to support Marthasville Community Ambulance as they grow with the advancements in healthcare and EMS to allow them to continue to provide the best up to date care to our community.
With my years of experience and clinical knowledge, I will be able to advocate for our district and our clinicians on a more knowledge and experience-based level. Our loved ones, family, and community deserve a strong EMS system that can continue to provide the best care. possible.

Tracy Holt

Age: 71
Occupation: Sign maker and fine artist
Previous public office: Marthasville Ambulance board
Reason to seek election: I’ve felt llike I have don well in my 33 years of service as the vice chairman of our district and want to continue in that regard.
Top priorities:
1) To continue my record of dedication to keep Marthasville Community Ambulance moving forward.
2) Serving our district as a leader and helping to maintain our system and improve it.
3) Look ahead to more guidance that will keep Marthasville Ambulance top notch.
Qualifications: Experience. I’ve been a business leader in this area for over 33 years.
Other comment: I was invited to be on the board by one of our founding members. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1975. I’ve lived in Dutzow for 39 years.



Mike Thomas

Age: 55
Occupation: Program/music director and morning host, KWRE/KFAV
Previous public office: Truesdale Alderman
Reason to seek election: As an incumbent who has been a part of city leadership that has seen the construction of the city’s first park and community safe room, I want to continue to help lead our community as we are looking at unprecedented growth.
Top priorities:
1) I feel we must set up a city planning and zoning program.
2) Work with our department heads and aldermen to continue to improve quality of life and public safety.
3) Work at recruiting additional retail businesses into our community to serve our citizens.
Qualifications: As an incumbent in this office for the last five years, I’m proud to help see to it, with the rest of the board, that our city is growing in a positive manner and wish to see that continue using my experience and knowledge.
Other comment: As a Truesdale resident, it has been my goal and the goal of our fellow board members to build pride in our city. I am proud to tell people I’m from Truesdale and want to ensure other residents feel the same way.

Kelly Riehl

Age: 57
Occupation: Service account manager associate
Previous public office: None
Reason to seek election: The city of Truesdale is experiencing new growth that will have new challenges within the community. I look forward to serving as aldermen, with passion, new energy, leadership and a drive to actively listen to the citizens, business owners and potential new opportunities that will assist in the Truesdale community and will be beneficial for the community as a team.
Top priorities:
1) I will be the voice of the city of Truesdale, while being accessible, building relationships, demonstrating compassion and empathy, and actively listening to the residents of the community.
2) I would like to assist in the development, with the Truesdale Board of Aldermen and mayor, on a strategic plan of implementing a planning and zoning commission.
Qualifications: I am successful, respected in my personal and professional paths by taking on responsibility, showing integrity, performance, innovation and building relationships with many. I will be honored and proud to serve as an alderman by actively listening to the community, assisting with projects and solutions with continued growth in “The City That Could.”
Other comment: I have lived in Truesdale for five years with my husband, retired Staff Sergeant Bobby. We have five children and eleven grandchildren, with one baby boy angel in heaven. Currently, I work from home in medical insurance as a service account manager associate in St. Louis and a civil proccess server for St. Louis and St. Charles County. I graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2009 with my MBA.

Joe Brooks

Age: 38
Occupation: Sales
Previous public office: Current Truesdale alderman
Reason to seek election: I’ve been proud to serve this community as an aldermen since June of 2020. During this time, I feel fortunate to have had a role in helping bring the MaryLou community building, expansion of Bruer Park, and the first annual Christmas traditions celebration to our community. As Truesdale continues to grow, I look forward to establishing relationships with the families and businesses new to our area, as well as maintaining relationships with those who already call Truesdale home.
Top priorities:
If re-elected, my top priority will continue to be supporting the citizens of our community. I will do this by listening to all stakeholders involved in community issues, clearly communicating information, and remaining fair and impartial in decisions the board makes.
I’d also like to continue the growth that has been made between both Truesdale and Warrenton officials in regards to water treatment, growth and events.
Qualifications: As a lifelong resident of Warren County, and a proud five year resident of Truesdale, I have strong ties to our community and neighboring areas. As mentioned previously, I have served on the board of aldermen for Truesdale the past two years. Additionally, I have served as part of the Warren County Extension Council. During my time on the board, I have worked with our city officials, mayor, and the board to provide resources for our community, such as the MaryLou community center and expansion to Bruer Park. During my term, I’ve also worked alongside the board to establish a positive working relationship with the City of Warrenton. These experiences will mean that I am able to get right to work on the first day of a new term, which I am looking forward to.

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