Springfield Mayoral Candidates Discuss Issues - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Springfield Mayoral Candidates Discuss Issues

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The Springfield Mayor's approval of an annexation set the stage for him to have opposition on this year's ballot. Mayor Robert Walker will face former Commissioner Ralph Hammond on Super Tuesday.

Hammond was going to run in 2011, but he withdrew himself during qualifying.

About two years ago, Hammond held the Ward Two Commission Seat in Springfield and wanted to run for mayor but withdrew from that race and resigned as commissioner when he discovered his home wasn't actually in the city.

He and his wife Jeanie built their home on Bob Little Road in 1994 and always thought it was located within city limits. The property next door and across the road are included in the city.

However, while Hammond was helping a citizen with property issues, he realized his own home wasn't on the city map.

Hammond applied for annexation and became an official city resident in June of 2011.

"They went to the mayor with it, and they decided it was the right thing to do," said Hammond.

Mayor Walker said, "I've been asked several times, especially since people said he was going to run this time, why did you annex him? It was the right thing to do."

While both candidates are campaigning, the city is expanding its fire services to help keep property insurance rates down. But, the move could lead to other fees for residents and may ultimately have a big impact on the upcoming mayoral election.

The first thing Mayor Robert Walker and Candidate Ralph Hammond brought up was the city's fire protection rating, given by the Insurance Service Office.

Springfield needs to hire more firefighters so they meet the requirement of four on each call, whereas Callaway and Parker Fire Departments often help.

If the city doesn't meet the requirements, their rating could drop and affect the citizens' homeowner's insurance.

Both candidates told News 13 they want to look further in to the issue if they're elected. Mayor Walker even mentioned adding a fire assessment fee.

"Most of the people in our city . . . can't afford anymore money out of their pockets. You know, this fire assessment fee is something I don't want to do, but it's our best option," said Mayor Walker.

"If we meet the state's standards, I don't see how the insurance company can come in, especially on a small city, and say you got to have double your firefighters," said Hammond.

Springfield will have a public hearing to discuss the possibility of a fire assessment fee on March 4th.

The election is on Tuesday, April 16th.