Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It Has Been an Honor

I started my first job with the city of Pleasant Hill as a laborer in the Parks and Recreation Department. I painted lines on baseball fields, mowed grass, and cleaned up our parks. That is where I got my first lesson on the impact that local government can have on each of our lives. Since then, I have been on the Park Board, City Council, Cass County Economic Development Commission, and now am currently the Mayor of Pleasant Hill. Although public service is extremely important to me – family is always my number one. 

As some of you know, my wife, Lezlea, and I had a goal for our family to someday live on a farm and raise our children in that type of environment. Those of you with that same goal know it is nearly impossible to find such a property in Pleasant Hill School District without spending an arm and a leg. An unexpected property came up for sale a few weeks ago that was surprisingly in a price range we could afford and turn into the homestead of our dreams; so, we decided to jump on that opportunity. As a result of that decision, I cannot be Mayor of Pleasant Hill any longer. I will be resigning as Mayor, effective August 17th, 2018. I know this decision will make some people mad, disappointed, or even (for a few individuals) excited; but, this decision is in the best interest of my family. I have lived in this community my entire life and have directly invested myself into the city by working for or being an elected official of this town since I was 15 years old. I love this town and am grateful I will continue to be a part of the community for the rest of my life. My kids will go to our schools. I will still shop in our town. I will still help where needed - be that at the fair, on boards, guidance to those still elected, wherever and however I'm able.

You might be curious as to the path forward for the city. Once I resign on August 17th, Mayor Pro-tem Mark Guffey will take the reigns as Interim Mayor. Mark is a great man with the best interest of all of the citizens in our community in mind. The fact that he will lead our town going forward made my decision to take on this opportunity possible. The governing of the city ultimately will not change. As Mayor Pro-tem, Mark will get his normal Councilman vote, and then be granted a 2nd vote in the chance there is a split vote on the Council. There will be an election in November of ‘18 to decide who will finish my term. 

Before I was elected Mayor, our city had somewhat come to a halt. We were being prevented from creating plans for our community's future. We were losing businesses without any effort to retain them. We had to listen to ill-advised tax increase proposals every year. To put it simply, our city was being held back by poor leadership. It was my goal to allow our staff to do their jobs and let the City Council unleash our community's potential. We are now in a very good position for continued success going forward.
  • Our budget is tight, but balanced.
  • For the first time in over a decade, we have added more businesses than we lost. Developers are calling, businesses are coming, and our Downtown is becoming more stable.
  • We just got in our bids for Country Club, and those came in below budget. Construction should begin this Fall to completely rebuild the street with new asphalt, curbs, and sidewalks.  
  • The City Council has already approved to resurface Lexington from Myrtle clear to Rice St. At our meeting on August 13th, we will approve to resurface several other streets in our community.
  • We continue to build several quality homes each and every year. There is no question in my mind, in the 2020 census, our city will be of the 10,000 population mark.The 10,000 population mark will bring new opportunities and challenges. 
  • For the first time ever, we are formulating a plan to address the aging sewer and water lines in certain parts of our town. You will begin to see real effort to improve our infrastructure proactively and not just continually be used as a line in a political campaign.
  • When I first took office in 2011, our community was consistently ranked as a Top 20 safest city in the state of Missouri. The last two years, we have been Top 5 thanks to our great police department.
  • We raised our starting Police Officer pay, added an additional full time officer, and bought them new standardized equipment.
  • We are making Pleasant Hill a destination for bike riders and walkers across our State. From the Rock Island State Park, MoPAC trail, KC Connector, and MoPac SingleTrack Trail – we are truly going from a rail town to a trail town. I will also promise to you, we will build the bridge for the Rock Island Trail. This unfinished business of mine, will continue to be a priority of mine outside of office.
  • We have created a top-notch park and rec system. We have revitalized the City Lake, our rec programs are hitting record numbers, built a new efficient city pool, and we have approved a design for an awesome park in our Downtown.
  • We have completely rewritten our entire code making it easier for our citizens and builders to follow. This will also help our staff more clearly identify issues and work through solutions.
  • We have hired new staff. From our City Administrator, City Clerk, and Public Works Director - we are driving results through accountability and high ethical standards. We are putting our community first, while making sure our staff know they are valued.
There is no question our City is in better shape today than when I took office, but there is still more to do. We must make sure we have leaders in place who don’t dictate, but engage all of our community leaders and assets to work together regarding our future. 
  • With the increase in housing permits, infrastructure needs will continue to rise. We are going to have to work to get MoDOT to expand 7 Highway to 4 lanes. This project will not only take commitment from the State, but most likely from our community. 
  • As we grow, our police officers will continue to need our support through budgeting more equipment to maintain our safe town.
  • We need to create a community strategic plan to access the needs of the community from the citizen perspective. 
  • More and more people want to come to our town, so more subdivisions are going to be built and our community needs to understand we must be proactive and not reactive to this growth.
  • With the new policies and codes in place, our City Council is ready for the growth coming our way. Many difficult decisions are on the horizon.
  • Plus much, much more.
In conclusion, I simply want to say thank you to each and every one of you. You believed in me when I was only 22 – electing me as City Councilman for Precinct 20 almost eight years ago. At the time you elected me, I was the youngest sitting elected official in the state of Missouri. You took a chance on a kid who felt called to serve his community. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve you. Although public service work is never done, I look forward to this next chapter in my life as I take a break from elected office. My growing family needs my focus. Wish us luck as we adjust to farm life. 

Exciting times are ahead as new leadership directs our city. Remember that for progress, change is pertinent. Growth is coming our way and we need to prepare. May God continue to bless our beloved community. Each of you hold a special place in my heart and in the lives of my family. You and your belief in us has influenced our lives more than you will ever know. Thank you.


  1. Congratulations CJ!! You will love living in the country.

  2. This made me cry! I wish you all the luck in the world on your farm, but SO wished you could have found something in the city limits. Good luck & I expect to see all of you in overalls!!!


It Has Been an Honor

I started my first job with the city of Pleasant Hill as a laborer in the Parks and Recreation Department. I painted lines on baseball fie...