Cape City Attorney Honored by Lou Czech Award
Posted on 07/30/2021

The legal advisor to local elected ericofficials serves a quiet yet critical role in the ethical management of public business and resources.  Cape Girardeau City Attorney Eric Cunningham was recently recognized at a state ceremony for his professional accomplishments in this role.  

Cunningham has served the City of Cape Girardeau for 26 years as City Attorney following decade in private practice. He was presented with the Lou Czech award this past Saturday, July 24, at the Missouri Municipal Attorneys Association (MMAA) business meeting held in Osage Beach. The award is given to the municipal attorney of the year whose exemplary public service best displays the same high standards of accomplishment, professionalism, and ethical conduct exhibited by Lou Czech, one of the founders of MMAA.

IMAGE: MMAA President Paul Campo (left), Cunningham (right)

While longevity is not the only measure of success, it is notable in a city attorney position. Cunningham’s city career has spanned the terms of several city managers, mayors and numerous council members. During his tenure he was involved in a charter review commission, a complete rezoning, numerous annexations and several lawsuits against the City. Eric has helped his councils navigate many election ballot language issues and has assisted in personnel issues, ethics questions and training of both city personnel and council and advisory board members. He has mentored, supervised and coached the city prosecuting attorney to represent the city in Municipal court. While these items just scratch the surface of the many duties Eric has carried out, they do not compare to the invisible work of the city attorney does in meeting with staff members, leadership, advisory boards, Council members and the mayor.

Despite the importance of his role, Cunningham is content to humbly provide guidance and empower decision makers to make good choices. He often credits those around him for his successes. "The City staff I've worked with over the years have been delightful," said Eric as he reflected on his career to-date. "They have had the genuine interest of the public at heart - my hat is off to them."

Former city manager of 12 years Scott Meyer said, “the counsel I received from Eric is beyond value.  His knowledge of the law, charter and ordinances was only secondary to his understanding of the history of the context of the city culture. While Eric works directly for the city manager, he also has a reporting relationship with the council.  As many of you know, this often puts him in a difficult spot. Eric has always handled this relationship with poise and integrity.”

Eric has also been involved with review and feedback on proposed legislation. He has been a very active and dedicated member of the Missouri Municipal Attorneys Association and he has also served on the Missouri Municipal League Policy Resolutions Committee. He was appointed to the MMAA board of directors in 2014, Vice President in 2018, President in 2019, and finally Immediate Past President in 2020.

Beyond the job, Cunningham is still a public servant. Since 1986, Cunningham served on the Board of Directors of Mid-America Teen Challenge International, an organization that helps people overcome addiction so that they may live happy, healthy and productive lives. He has served as the president of that organization since 2007.

Please join us in congratulating this year’s Lou Czech award winner Eric Cunningham at our next City Council meeting, Aug. 2, 2021 at 5 p.m. at the Council Chambers.