The candidate field for the Mexico City Council and Board of Education widened before the Tuesday filing deadline. There are as of Monday three candidates for two seats on the council, while there are four candidates for three seats on the school board.
Incumbent school board member Kelli Teel is running for re-election, while Joshua Price is again seeking a seat on the council. Todd Yager also recently filed for the school board.
The candidates for city council are incumbent Ayanna Shivers, Steve Haag and Price, Thomas Hugo and James Oxford while school board candidates are incumbents Dustin Pascoe and Teel, Lisa Ovaitt and Yager.
Teel and Price offered their thoughts on their candidacies last week.
Teel is the board treasurer serving in her first term. She was active with the Hawthorne Elementary School parent-teacher organization and wanted to volunteer her time to the district at a different level.
"I felt like the school board was a good place for me to help [the district] in any way that I could with matters that involve student education," she said.
Teel works for Kingdom Telephone Co. in Auxvasse and has two children who are students in the district, one at Hawthorne, and the other at the middle school. She also is a member of Mexico Civic Club and Centennial Baptist Church.
Teel, like Pascoe, wants to focus on the hiring and transition of the district superintendent as Zach Templeton retires in June to move to Tennessee.
"We really want to find someone that is interested in being involved in the community. We [also] need to put a lot of focus on our testing scores. My goal will always be the education of our students," Teel said.
Teel likes that the board is made up of people with diverse ideas. She plans to help any new members adjust to the board’s rigors.
"There's a lot to learn. There are a lot of good resources on the board and in the community,” she said. “We want to continue being a strong board, so I think we're all on board with helping anyone new come in and transition.”
Price wants to enact several big ideas if he is elected to the council. The main one, though, is seeing what the council can do to make sure Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline that ruptured March 2019, does its part to help the community.
"I think they created a crisis in this town. They owe it to the community to do a better job with the pipeline," he said.
Energy Transfer also owns the Dakota Access pipeline, along with MarEn Bakken Co. LLC and Phillips 66, which also concerns Price. If the company can't maintain a gas pipeline just north of Mexico, how can they maintain an oil pipeline that also runs under the Missouri River, he said.
Price recognizes that issues surrounding pipelines and other environmental issues are outside the scope of the council, but he wants to build awareness of the issue.
The public safety department has to respond to community concerns when major issues like the pipeline explosion occur, which places a burden on the city.
"I'm not against the pipeline, I just want them to take care of what they're building," he said.
Price would like to find ways for Energy Transfer to benefit the community, such as investing in youth and educational programs.
"I feel like the pipeline is obligated to help our community after what they put our community through,” he said. “They should invest in the children of this community.”