Noonday luncheon forum allows Hannibal city council, school board candidates five minutes to talk about topics of their own choosing

Candidates for public office in Hannibal made the most of their time to introduce themselves before a packed house at the Hannibal Country Club on Thursday, March 22.

Hosted by the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce, the noonday luncheon featured candidates running in contested races, including for the Ward 1 seat on City Council and for two open seats on the Hannibal Public School District Board of Education.

Each candidate had five minutes to present themselves to the group of Hannibal’s business professionals. Some utilized the time to talk about their experience, while other focused on ideas they hope to accomplish while in office.

Ward 1

Hannibal’s Ward 1 race features to political newcomers — James Godert and Trisha O’Cheltree — after longtime councilman Kevin Knickerbocker did not file for re-election.

O’Cheltree talked about her background as a business professional and volunteer. She said her experience with the Jaycees organization — at the local, state, and even national level — gave her a passion for serving others. She’s worked in sales at local media outlets. Growing up in Hannibal, she returned to her hometown a little more than five years ago.

She said she’s eager to continue finding solutions for issues that affect Hannibalians.

“I’m very honored to be running,” she said at the close of her speech.

O’Cheltree said her primary goal is figuring out how to bring in more high-paying jobs to the community.

That sentiment was shared by her opponent, business owner James Godert.

Godert said more high-paying jobs would create a ripple effect in the community — explaining better jobs would keep people busy from doing other, more unsavory, activities like vandalism and theft.

He also explained he would be interested in expanding lighting programs in the city. He praised recent projects that have illuminated parts of Hannibal.

A lifetime resident of Hannibal, Godert described himself as a constitutional conservative. He is a combat veteran.

He has run Godert Construction for 18 years.

Hannibal school board

The four candidates seeking two positions on the Hannibal Public School District Board of Education all expressed their passion for the area’s children. They all agreed that the school board carries a big responsibility in not only educating children, but also providing a stable atmosphere.

Ryan Rapp, who was appointed to fulfill the unexpired term of Terry Sampson upon his resignation from the board, spoke first.

Rapp spoke about his prior experience, including leading the campaign to get Proposition C passed for the school district in 2016. He has volunteered on the United Way board, Chamber of Commerce board, other development boards, as well as a number of other philanthropic organizations.

He also emphasized his knowledge and expertise in the financial field as it relates to financing a school district.

One of his biggest priorities is making sure the district’s success is thoroughly told.

Blane Mundle is about to retire from a 28-year education career. But he said he’s not done yet. He said he’s running for the school board to maintain purpose in life. He feels a position on the school board would provide that. He mentioned his experience dealing with budgets, parents, and policy throughout his career.

“What affects our life more than education?” he asked.

He complimented the district’s current board and leadership. He said they’ve “done a fantastic job.”

Brenda Krigbaum is a mother of five and current employee of the district.

She says at her job in the food service department, she gotten to know the children and their stories and struggles on a personal level. Knowing the students inspired her run for the school board.

She said in her job, she works to make the days brighter for the students, some of whom she knows are going through difficult circumstances. She said she wants to make a difference in the lives of Hannibal’s students, and to do so with a smile. She hopes the school district can provide stability in a world where school might be the only place where stability is possible.

“I’m in for the long haul. I persist for whatever I believe,” she told the crowd.

Justin Parker, an American Family Insurance agent, is a Hannibal High School graduate and HLGU graduate. He emphasized his attachment to the Hannibal community.

“Early on, I decided this is the place I want to be,” he said.

Like Krigbaum, Parker spoke about the challenging situations many Hannibal students face. As a foster parent, he sees some of the situations first-hand. He talked about the district’s role about providing day-to-day needs for some students. He said he wants to provide necessary tools to all students to be successful.

Among a bullet-point list of priorities, Parker mentioned anti-bullying, increased family engagement, school safety, and mentorship top his list.

The election will be held Tuesday, April 3.

Other uncontested races in Hannibal include for Municipal Judge (Donald Bastian) and Ward 3 Councilperson (Melissa Cogdal).

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .