Brentwood’s mayor-elect: keeping the coffee, adding happy hour


Christopher Thornton on Tuesday won the race to be Brentwood’s next mayor. He  said he’s been busy with lots of people reaching out to say congratulations. 40 South News caught up with him Friday afternoon next to the Brentwood Library.

Thornton rode there on his Harley Davidson Fatboy, which he said was a present from his wife Pam, a State Farm insurance agent, after their first daughter was born. She gave him the motorcycle and an insurance policy. Thornton said he bought his first motorcycle when he was 18. (Editor’s note: Thornton rode with a helmet, he just removed it for this photo.)

What has kept him busy lately?

“A couple meetings with Pat (Kelly) to work out when the swearing-in is going to happen (soon, though the date isn’t set yet), with Bola (Akande, city administrator) just to work on how to transition. I went back to work. Billed some hours for the first time in a while, so that’s good.”

Meeting with current mayor, Pat Kelly

“There’s simple stuff like paperwork, and harder stuff. Pat is involved in different deals. He’s involved in a TDD (transportation development district) at Hanley. That TDD is still live. They have a couple projects going on so he had to bring me up to speed on those, and he’s actually the chairman of that TDD, so I’m going to step into his position, as the mayor of Brentwood.”

Meeting with Bola Akande

“Just trying to figure out how to best make good on the things we talked about during the campaign. How to be more open, how to be more responsive. What’s the best way to open up access to information. Nothing definite, just basically told her, here’s what I’d like to accomplish, work with the staff to try to figure out the best plan for accomplishing it.”

Opening up the city books

“As I said during the campaign, in my meetings before the election with Bola I asked her and Gina (Jarvis, finance director), is there any reason we can’t completely open up the books of the city? They provided me a very detailed budget document. Is there any reason we can’t make that available to anyone who wants to see it? Their answer was no, there’s no reason we can’t do that. My response was, why don’t we? They said, we will. That’s just one example but I think it’s one of the more important examples.”

Opening up the monthly budget report

“There’s a monthly budget report that goes around to all the aldermen that shows where we are relative to budget on a month-to-month basis. I think that information would be useful and interesting to people. Just working out the best way to get that available in a way that’s easy to access and easy to understand.”

Information should be on the city website

“It’s not something that somebody couldn’t do with a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, or Sunshine request and get a paper copy of, but my view is the website has to be the portal to the city. In this day and age we have to use that technology. If we need to supplement that in other ways for people to get information, great, but that needs to be the first place that people can go to get information. So I told her to think about and talk to other people about how we can best do that.”

A small business owner wanted to know what changes she’ll see

“None, right at the moment, other than she might notice that City Hall is a little more accessible in case she needs us. I don’t know how much dealings she has with City Hall. Hopefully the businesses are doing business and not dealing with City Hall. Over time she might notice—one of the things that everybody was very keen to achieve is to see how we might be able to make Brentwood Boulevard more presentable, or even going a little further, develop into some sort of town center, but it’s way, way to early for any of that.”

Handling being a new mayor with a board of aldermen with three new members

“I would expect that there’s going to be a meeting to two, where, to some extent we’re getting the feel for how to work with one another. I do plan on sitting down for a meeting with every single alderman. Whether or not that will be before my first official meeting, I can’t say for sure, because that might be as soon as next week, but if it’s not, it will certainly be before the next official meeting.”

How else life will change for him

“For the next few months it’s going to be a little busier than normal, but once the newness wears off and we get things down to more of a routine I think it will be like a normal summer. I’m busy with two baseball teams for my son. My kids are all on the swim team. The only difference is instead of running swim teams, I’m going to be running the city council meeting. Which is easier? Keeping 300 kids in line or eight aldermen? Who knows? I’ll let you know in a couple months.”

Mayor’s coffee, and more

“You can count on continuing Mayor’s Coffee once a month, and we’re going to add an additional Mayor’s Happy Hour once a month. Happy hour is a euphemism. It’s going to be held right here at City Hall—it’s going to be lemonade and cookies. Mayor’s Coffee will continue to be the last Friday of the month. Happy Hour will be offset, so there’s two weeks in between (the coffee). The idea is that many people can’t make a 9:00 meeting, so if we have one at 5:30, the thought is the people that can’t make a 9:00 meeting can make a 5:30 meeting.”

Again, making information available

“We have some other plans that are a little too fresh to talk about. We’re thinking about ways to get creative with podcasts, YouTube, stuff like that. More details as those get finalized. Again, more information to people if they want it, and making it available in ways that are easy. A podcast, so if they’re on the treadmill at the gym and they want to listen to the mayor talk for a while about what’s going on, they can. I can’t Imagine why they would. Maybe some people do.”

Involving citizens in the appointment process

“Looking at better ways to reach out to citizens and get them more involved in the appointment process, and the identification of people that might be willing to serve. I don’t have any definite plans there, but I’m very interested in making that more of an inclusive process. The idea is that it wouldn’t just be the mayor coming up with people who might serve, it would be a group of citizens that might be able to help me find people that are willing able to do the job, which I need all the help I can get.”

Hopes people stay active in the community

“Everybody was very active during the election, and my hope is that they will stay that active, because… look, I was elected to serve everybody. That means people that voted for me and people that didn’t, so we have to get everybody involved in making these appointments and doing these things, and I’m absolutely committed to doing that. And hopefully some of those same people will agree to serve in various capacities.”

Brentwood mayor-elect Chris Thornton on his Harley Davidson Fatboy, a present from his wife when their first daughter was born.


  1. Mike Marshall, I did not want to appear unresponsive to you. I first did not even know that you questioned my references to P&Z ord. waivers. Then you kindly posted a new 40 south comment–and that one I got. The thread is an older one, so I wanted to make sure you did receive a response. Thank you. maureen

  2. Congratulations Mayor Thornton!

    Your photograph gives me hope that you would join me in support of Missouri HB523 which seeks to allow adults to make their own choice regarding motorcycle helmets. Those interested can track the progress of the bill through, a powerful (St. Louis-based) legislative tracking service. Here is a link:

    All the best in your transition!
    Tom Shipley

  3. Another beginners question: a confidential statement by one alderman that (the alderman) would (at the time) rather have Pat Kelly for 10 more years, than have to deal with another alderman for two more years. What is your plan, for stabilizing the hostilities that remain among aldermen? Thank you.

  4. Good first statement. I hope you make good use of Bola, as she is like a relay fuse. You can tell her something and she disseminates to the proper personnel. She is highly effective.

    I have a beginners question about your new mayoral position. How are you going to handle ordinance enforcement, esp. from P&Z. I understand how hotly competing interests caused huge fall downs in waiving ordinances without notifying residents. This error rapidly eroded the confidence residents have in City Hall and in particular P&Z.

    I am encouraged that you are going to be listening to Bola’s information gathering and the residents either directly or through the BOA, thereby restoring confidence in City Hall. Finally, thank you for putting yourself out there for a better Brentwood. I did not vote for you, but you are now the Mayor. I look for substance over style and an appreciation of the truth of a limited role of Mayor over citizenry, as intended in a democracy. Blessings. maureen

      • Do a 40 south search using the keyword “grievance”. Replete with examples. I apologize for the delay but I just now happened onto your question. It has been so long you may not even get my reply!

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