JOPLIN, Mo. — Friends, family, and community members stood watching as the five winners of the June 2 city council election were sworn into office. Incumbents Anthony Monteleone, Kenan Cortez, and Phil Stinnett all took the oath at Monday night’s special meeting alongside newcomers Christina Williams and Charles “Chuck” Copple.
The members were named as a result of last week’s election. Residing council members Melodee Colbert-Kean and Taylor Brown did not seek reelection, so two of the five vacancies were guaranteed to see new faces. Williams and Copple come from different professional backgrounds, one coming from architecture and the other a retired first responder.
Williams was elected to one of the general seats alongside incumbent Keenan Cortez. Prior to running for office, she had served on Joplin’s Citizens Advisory Recovery Team which served to bring Joplin’s post-tornado vision to life.
“We saw a need in our community and what kinds of work needed to be done,” Williams explained. “Our efforts helped bring curbside recycling to Joplin.”
She also brought new ideas to the Joplin Parks and Recreation Board and carried her passion for the Great Outdoors to the All Kids Bike program for Joplin Schools.
“We raised $33,000 in two months so that every kindergartner in Joplin Schools can learn to ride a bike.”
Williams says that no matter what she’s doing, she wants to make sure that it makes a difference.
“Any job that I’ve taken and any kind of advocacy work that I’ve been a part of has been because I love to do meaningful work,” said Williams. ” I don’t want to do something that doesn’t move our community forward and somehow benefits the greater good down the road.”
Williams will serve for four years on the council.
Charles “Chuck” Copple
Filling the pick for the Zone II candidacy, retired Joplin Fire Chief Chuck Copple served as a firefighter 20 years. He says that his work with the city’s emergency crews helps give him a greater understanding of strengthening the relationship between city employees and council members.
“Employees of any organization are the greatest asset and I may just be one person up there, but it starts with one. If they feel like there’s at least somebody up there that has their best interest and knows where they’re coming from and knows the struggle they have, hopefully, that will start to build back that relationship between them and city hall.”
Chairing Joplin’s Proposition B Committee, Copple’s work as a first responder also helped tackle public safety issues with recruitment and retention.
“We need to make sure we are taking the right steps to make sure we not only get the best officers but keep those officers here because experience matters. It’s awfully important and we were losing an awful lot of experience compared to other departments around.”
Copple says that serving on council has been a plan of his for quite some time, but now, it’s finally being put into motion.
“I’m just glad to serve the community that my family has called home for so long.”
Copple will also serve a four-year term.