Burden elected mayor, started leading council April 8

Since joining the Kirksville City Council by appointment last August, Zac Burden won the municipal election to retain his seat April 2 and was chosen to serve as mayor April 8.

Burden is a staple of the Truman State University community, serving as the Missouri Hall residence hall director for 17 years. After Burden won the most votes in the April election, the newly sworn in councilmembers unanimously elected him mayor April 8.

Councilmember Phillip Biston nominated Burden for the position, and former mayor Chuck Long seconded the nomination. Burden said the discussion over who would fill leadership roles was amicable.

Biston said Burden was qualified when the council first appointed him, and his commitment to Kirksville made him a good choice.

“He cares a lot about the City of Kirksville, as we all do,” Long said. “But I think Zac is just like Phil said, he’s very well-spoken — he’s a wordsmith — and he represents the city well.”

Burden said he is excited to work with the new council, which now also includes Jessica Parks, to further community discussion, complete ongoing projects and start new ones.

As mayor, Burden is in charge of conducting city council meetings, acting as the legal signatory for the city, and being the face of city government — which is the part he said he is most excited about.

“I really enjoyed, in my short tenure on the council, attending as many things as possible and going to represent a city — and a city government — that I’m incredibly proud of,” Burden said. “To be able to do that in the capacity of mayor is a real exciting opportunity, so I really hope that I can do the citizens of Kirksville proud by being their very visible representative.”

He said he hopes to make council meetings more enjoyable and engaging, which will hopefully lead to more discussion of local issues with Kirksville residents.

One of the ways he hopes to foster more transparency and communication is through his new Facebook page titled ZacInGovernment. With this page, he hopes to keep Kirksville residents up to date on city projects and initiatives. The first post encouraged citizens to serve on city boards and commissions, while subsequent posts shared information on plans for city streets.

In addition to city streets, Burden said he is excited to continue the assessment of city codes, the replacement of the downtown water tower, the new aquatics center and improvements to local parks.

He said it is one of the council’s essential responsibilities to share what is happening with the Kirksville community and ensure they know their taxes are being put to use on projects they are interested in. He said this is something he has wanted to do more of since he joined the council nearly eight months ago.

“I have a lot of hope that this is a group that is focused on working with the people of Kirksville, wanting to know what residents’ concerns, ideas, joys are in our community,” Burden said. “I’m really excited to see where this council takes things. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

The new position will require Burden to prioritize his time between the city and Missouri Hall, he said. The mayoral position is a part-time job, and Burden said Missouri Hall will always be a huge priority in his life.

Burden oversees the operation of Missouri Hall on a day-to-day basis and a staff of student advisers.

“Absolutely anyone who comes in contact with Zac is met with all the kindness, support and wisdom in the world, and he will always be a source of light in the Truman and Kirksville community,” Missouri Hall student adviser Dana Bartch wrote in an email to The Index. “I could not think of anyone better to have representing Truman students and Kirksville citizens.”