Columbia is a small town. OK, it is a large town or a small city, depending on your point of view. I happen to live in the Second Ward but am close enough to the First that there is usually some confusion. What happens around the corner is of great concern.
It is easy to know a lot of people who know a lot of people in Columbia, so to say that I know three of the four City Council candidates is not unexpected. I have waltzed with Almeta Crayton (light on her feet). I have had long conversations with John Clark (diverse in language and ideas). I know Paul Sturtz enough to say “hi,” and of his general background (very civic-minded while making a buck). Unfortunately, I do not know Karen Baxter at all.
When asked, most have limited views of the effectiveness of a City Council member. “What can the candidate do for me or my neighborhood?” Few ask what the candidate can do for the entire city of Columbia, or the mid-Missouri region. We tend to think of our own little worlds.
Almeta Crayton has been a wonderful representative for the First Ward. Unfortunately, the complaint I hear most concerns her apparent representation of only one segment of her ward. Her advocacy for the poorer neighborhoods is most admirable and should never be dismissed. However, the residents of the North Central Columbia Association and Parkade have confided in me that they are feeling left out. Almeta’s focus is too limited. I am afraid that her effectiveness citywide is no longer viable.
John Clark ... well ... is John Clark. The lederhosen-wearing character wondering the streets of Columbia is one of the most intelligent people I know, leaving many in his wake of nonstop commentary. He is the eternal thorn in the paw of the lion, the City Council. Though his caring for Columbia is without question, I am afraid that a John Clark seat will prevent the council from getting anything done. John will talk the council to its own demise. John is more effective as the advocate than the overseer, as a leader and organizer for neighborhood associations and, like Almeta, a voice for individual neighborhoods.
I met Karen Baxter once, leaving little in way of an impression. My observation is that she has good intentions but is not organized or focused enough to be effective as a representative for the First Ward.
That leaves Paul Sturtz, though I am a bit upset with him for violating the very first rule of marketing: If you say you are going to call, call. Only your death should prevent you from making contact and I have yet to read Paul’s obituary. Yet his vision is more global than just the First Ward. I believe he understands thoroughly how the economics and lives in this widely diverse district affect and are affected by the entire city and the region. I believe he can move the council forward, provided he can be successful in building multiple coalitions. He will need to use his association with The District and the Chamber of Commerce to gather strength for art, transportation and economic issues. He will need to sally up to council members Barbara Hoppe, Karl Skala and Jerry Wade to provide a solid front for progressive growth. He will need Almeta, John and others to gather strength in the smaller enclaves of the First Ward. He must work with the minority communities, asking for their support while promising his.
Paul has the ability, knowledge and energy to accomplish all of this. Though I cannot vote for him (remember, I live across the street), I believe he is the right person to see Columbia grown, prosper and achieve the greatness it solely deserves. If you live in the First Ward, I urge you to place your mark next to Paul Sturtz for City Council.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.