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Brentwood Ward 1 Candidate Maureen Saunders: "I Have to Be Part of the Solution"

Brentwood's reputation is just bruised, she said.

Maureen Saunders is 50 years old, and doesn’t look it, thanks to her Irish skin.

“I wouldn’t change my heritage, I love being Irish,” she said.

She’s one of eight children, and now has four of her own. She’s been married 27 years.

“My parents did a great job of raising us, because all eight of us are very compassionate, caring citizens,” she said. “They gave me a good foundation.”

Her own children range from an eighth-grader at to her oldest, who’s getting married in June and works in economics in Cincinnati.

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She graduated from University of Missouri, St. Louis with a degree in accounting. She also took governmental and not for profit accounting as an elective.

Saunders went into public accounting after graduation, then worked as a controller for various companies, most recently a large law firm, where she supervised a staff of 16.

She likes to help companies get their books in order, “streamlining processes, helping them implement internal controls, then automate that.”

Saunders became interested in Brentwood city politics when the Brentwood Promenade was in the works, and rumors were in the air.

“I don’t base anything on rumor,” she said. “I always immediately attend a meeting and educate myself. I got involved back then, and urged the city to update the comprehensive plan, and spent many years encouraging them to do so and finally was successful in that effort and sat on that committee.”

She said her children were small, then, so she diverted her attention to helping out at their schools, including working on getting a bond proposition passed.

Jumping forward to when Brentwood City Administrator from the city, she said her first inclination was to go to a council meeting and find out what happened.

She said she was surprised to hear that it was cash withdrawals at a casino on a city credit card.

She looked at the city’s annual independent audit, which stated the city should implement controls to prevent embezzlement and fraud, and it also said, as noted in the prior year.

“That means they had recommended it the year before,” she said. “For me, as an accountant, that was like, you’re just not doing your homework.”

She decided a state audit of the city of Brentwood was the right thing to do. It was a . She said she wasn’t going to pull teeth to get them.

“Parkridge was going to be the test street,” she said. “If very few people had signed, it probably would have ended there, but quite the opposite happened. People were grabbing it out of my hands.”

After that, she said she hoped someone in her group of volunteers would step forward for run for alderman, but no one did.

“I thought, I have to be part of the solution,” she said, and decided to run. She said when the for the city, she would like to be on the board to help implement them.

She thinks a full workout facility at the would end up being too expensive for the residents.

She hasn’t seen the results of the survey on the Recreation Center, but said her gut feeling, is with and the , the community couldn’t support a third workout facility. She’d like to fix up the ice rink, and add a teen rec center.

“It’s a drug-free, alcohol-free place where pre-teens and teens can hang out in a semi-supervised space, but not with their parents standing over them,” she said.

She said Brentwood’s reputation is “just bruised.” She said the city has already taken steps in the right direction, and will go forward and will even serve as a roll model for other cities when problems are unearthed.

Saunders is aware that some see her as combative at recent board of alderman meetings.

“I have never called anyone a name at the podium,” she said. “I never make accusations at the podium, but I do ask the tough questions, and I don’t back down.”

She said during the meetings where the embezzlement was being discussed, citizens were taking longer at the podium and Kelly invoked the 3-minute limit, which she understood, but felt some warning would have been good.

Saunders had questions, and stayed at the podium beyond the limit.

“I was willing to be arrested if the mayor wanted me to stop at the three-minute mark,” she said. “It was a choice I made; I feel strongly about, and I stand behind it.”

She said she feels like she is always respectful. “After meetings the mayor always wants to engage with me, and have a conversation about what happened.”

“We can work together,” she said of Kelly.

“I feel like I was instrumental bringing him on board with the audit. I worked with him in getting the comprehensive plan updated, so I am effective.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gail Schamel March 27, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Nicely done! Way to go Maureen! Good luck! My third child voted absentee today! Gail Schamel
Karen Smith March 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I am very hopeful that residents in Ward 1 elect Maureen. She has outstanding qualifications, a strong audit background (which would be helpful to have on the board given recent events), a willingness to ask questions and represent the residents in her ward, promotes transparency and accountability, and a proactive attitude as exhibited by her efforts to lead the Mo State Audit petition. Not only would Ward 1 benefit from having her on the Board, but so would the rest of us in Brentwood. Thanks for running Maureen and getting issues out in the open. You have already done so much for the City..and having you on the Board would be a step forward for Brentwood.
Linda Schmuke March 28, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Just when I thought things were getting better in Brentwood, someone stoops to a new low. My afternoon mail delivery brought an anonymous "open letter to the women voters of Brentwood Ward One speaking to the destructive path chosen by Maureen Saunders in her run for Alderperson". I was not at the November BOA meeting, but according to the "junk mail" that I received today, Maureen made inconsiderate remarks about Barbara Clement's family, and the spineless person who sent me the letter is demanding a public apology. I have been a resident of Brentwood since 1986, have known Barbara personally most of that time through a friendship that she has with my parents. She is a classy person and I believe she would be appalled to know that someone is resorting to mud-slinging. Personally attacking a person is never right and I don't know exactly what went down at the meeting, but in the end, a rift between Barbara and Maureen should be handled by them. Why is it any of your business? By not signing your name, you are not only showing that you are gutless and afraid of what people might think about you, but also giving impetus to the supporters of Maureen. I fear your intentions of derailing Maureen may backfire. Ultimately, Barbara chose not to run and many people believe Maureen will be a much needed breath of fresh air and will work hard for all of us. Next time you have a vigilante issue and too much time on your hands, do us all a favor and save yourself the postage.
Ellen Walther March 28, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Bravo, Linda!!!
Kay Scott-Boyd March 29, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I received a letter to Brentwood women voters today that was not signed also. It is talking about Maureen being a narcissist! This letter was also not signed. It never mentioned Barbara Clements but only how Maureen was taking credit for the state audit being done and therefore she was a narcissist! I have NEVER been so ASHAMED of someone being a candidate, or on teir side, in Brentwood before. I cannot understand how being such a COWARD can slam a candidate running for Alderperson and think we the voters would be stupid enough to believe someone who was too afraid to sign their name. I can only assume that this person is trying to help Jim but cannot see how he can condone or think this would help him. I cannot understand that Jim says he wants to help the city but then says he put his hat in the race as a favor to Pat Kelly. If he was really interested then he should have done it before he had to be hand picked by Kelly. I am so disgusted with the people trying to smear Maureen Saunders I hope it backfires big on them!
Ryan Martin (Editor) March 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Hi Kay, do you happen to have a scanner? I'd be interested in taking a look and the campaign literature that's going around the first ward, if you don't mind.
Linda Schmuke March 29, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Obviously this person(s) is mentally unbalanced and feeding on the attention that they are getting. Maybe we should all take the high road and stop posting and talking about it. They wouldn't be getting their jollies anymore and we won't be wasting our time and energy on something so ignorant. Just a suggestion.
Tenacious April 01, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Maureen Saunders is an excellent choice for Ward I. She has spent time and effort becoming educated on the issues in the city and has been an active member of the community for a long time, just as her husband has. This shows that it's not a knee jerk reaction or a favor to another politician yet an individual who comes from a family that truly cares about the community. She stays focused on the Brentwood's issues because that is what's important. The negative publicity comes from people who don't know what the issues are or don't know where to stand on them. There are people who talk about people and then there are people who talk about getting things done. Maureen is one who will get things done. You can also rest assured that she would never be a puppet for anyone because she knows how to evaluate the information in front of her and decide for her community what's best.
Mr. Completely April 02, 2012 at 02:41 AM
So its come down to Saunders or Bischoff, eh? How do you choose??? Lets look at some Brentwood history so you can make an informed decision. Saunders decided to run for alderwoman after the Seemayer crime & the fake overtime debacle at fire house. Bischoff decided to run after being asked to do so by mayor Kelly. Really..why would mayor Kelly ask someone to run for public office? Remember the Brentwood Comprehensive Plan that was done in 2005? It was the map for for future commercial development in Brentwood. The plan changed the zoning overlay on a significant number of residential areas to allow for a zoning change to commercial so that years down the road developers with their usual tools; TIF's Tax Abatetments so on- can destroy Brentwood Homes so we can have more palces to shop . Mayor Kelly hand picked the chariman of the comprehensive plan committee...who you ask was the chairman? Why its Don Beimdiek who introduced himself as a retired lawyer. Sounds harmless right? A retired lawyer directing the committee who will decide what Brentwood will look like in 10, 20, 30 years..not so fast. Seems Mr. Beimdiek just appeared in the St. Louiis Magazine list of the top 500 St. Louis lawyers, his specialty-Eminent Domain, one of those wonderful "tools" used in the past by mayor Kelly. HA! you couldn't even make that up. If you are in favor of open & honest government in Brentwood its probably a good idea to vote for the anti Kelly candidate, any candidate will do.

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