It started with certain postings on a Facebook page this weekend. Eddie Buck, owner of said he then wanted to hear straight from the mouths of the two mayor candidates for Eureka's leadership spot, rather than through other people's interpretations of the candidates' positions on relevant city matters.
So, Buck issued a challenge via Facebook to both candidates on Saturday: Show up at his office at 9 a.m. Monday to have a conversation.
"I'm tired of all the posturing, and thought it would be helpful to hear directly from both candidates how they stand on things," said Buck. "I thought both would show up, or perhaps nothing at all. But the whole intent of this challenge was to get to the facts of what one candidate says is so good about Eureka and about what the other candidate says is so wrong."
Current Eureka Mayor Kevin Coffey, who is serving a second term at the city's helm, appeared at Buck's business, ready for discussions. Also in attendance were two Eureka board of aldermen, Wes Sir and Robert Key, and Eureka resident Eileen Tyrrell, who is assisting with Coffey's campaign. One other business owner, Carol Phillips, from the , arrived later, when her business responsibilities enabled her to do so.
Coffey's first mayoral term was from 2003 to 2007.
The other current mayoral candidate, Lee Kropp, said he happened onto Buck's challenge Sunday night at about 9 p.m. "This was a last-minute request, and I had no idea what to expect. I decided there was no point in going and to save this type of interaction for a professionally managed forum," he said.
Kropp said he and Coffey already were invited to a forum to be managed by the Eureka Chamber of Commerce on March 28 at the Holiday Inn-Six Flags.
"As a mayoral candidate, I'm keeping my campaign clean and just sticking to what I believe it takes in the office," said Kropp.
"Being mayor is a tough job, no doubt. The current mayor has had eight years to do the job, and I don't think what has been done is sufficient for the city's needs."
Kropp said he has been going door-to-door to talk to voters since early December. He also is hosting a series of greet and meets at various Eureka restaurants and establishments through April 3 to conduct one-on-one conversations. Twelve such options were available. Details can be gathered online.
Coffey said he also intends to announce more details about his one-on-one "Ask the Mayor" conversation opportunities at Eureka locales, perhaps later this week. He said the dates will be March 9, 16, 23 and 30.
Monday morning, Coffey highlighted the progress made in the city's ballparks, parks, replacement businesses, and now in the city's new library efforts as well as new tourism initiative and future recreational center.
"We have a considerable outlay of time, effort and money devoted to Eureka, especially in the new area of tourism, which you wouldn't find in any other surrounding city, such as Fenton, Pacific or other similar sizes of American cities," said Coffey.
He said the emphasis on tourism came as a directive from the city's Economic Council members.
"We've had diligent and very serious efforts for several years in business development for Eureka. Given the national and regional economy, we've had to fall back and replan many times. But because of all the planning and steps we've taken, we've been much better off than other West County cities, such as Chesterfield, that also had to make financial adjustments even with the diverse economic base as large as theirs," said Coffey.
He said all cities face significant challenges in balancing their budgets, even ones as successful as Chesterfield. "We're not alone."
Coffey said he thought it would require "experience and ability" to get through Eureka's challenging next few years. "Being mayor during economic times, such as our current ones, isn't an entry level position," he said.