COLUMBIA — Rod Robison has volunteered his time with the Boy Scouts of America in Columbia, with the police department, with track and field programs and more. Now he's volunteering again, this time as a candidate for the Sixth Ward City Council position occupied by one-term incumbent Barbara Hoppe.
The 54-year-old Robison moved to Columbia 36 years ago and now serves as water systems manager for Riback Supply Company. If elected, Robison said, he would strive to bring a new perspective to the City Council and would focus on public safety and attracting new businesses to Columbia.
The deadline for filing for positions on the Columbia City Council is 5 p.m. today. Those who want to run must pick up a petition from the office of the city clerk on the fifth floor of the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway. Would-be candidates must collect signatures from at least 50 registered voters who live within their wards. The petitions must be returned to the clerk's office for validation.
The council positions will be filled in the April 7 election.
Robison was born in De Soto and grew up with Jay Nixon, another Boy Scout who would later harbor political aspirations. The two parted ways when Robison moved to the St. Louis area in the seventh grade. Robison said it was his community involvement and local circumstances rather than a desire to follow in his childhood friend's footsteps that prompted him to run for council.
Robison said he filed his candidacy for the council position, which will be filled in the April 7 election, because he wanted "to represent a different point of view."
Robison said he aims to provide voters with an alternative to the incumbent and to fill what he sees as a democracy's need for choices. He said he waited until Tuesday — two days before the deadline — to ensure he wouldn't muddy up the race by running against another candidate who shares his views.
Incumbent Hoppe filed her candidacy for re-election on Dec. 4. Hoppe and Robison are the only candidates contesting the southeast Columbia ward's council seat.
For about seven years in the 1990s, Robison volunteered in the Columbia Police Department's Tele-Serve program, answering phones and taking simple reports in an effort to free full-time officers from administrative duties. Robison said he would bring a deeper understanding of the police department to the council and would work to "maintain a strong, well-educated police force."
Given the current economic situation, Robison said he would also focus on making Columbia look more attractive to businesses in order to stimulate the local economy, bring in jobs and get ahead of the current financial crisis.
Robison went into his parents’ family business straight out of high school and has spent most of his career in plumbing sales; his current position takes him throughout Missouri and has reminded him "what a great little town" Columbia is.
He's the committee chairman for local Boy Scout Troop 701 and an active member of the Missouri Track and Field Officials Association. His wife, Susan Robison, works in social services with the state of Missouri, and his two children teach in Columbia Public Schools.
Robison is the third person to file for one of the two open council seats. In the Second Ward, 18-year incumbent Chris Janku has said he will not seek a seventh term. Allan Sharrock, who filed two weeks ago, was the lone candidate for that seat as of Wednesday evening.
Sharrock, 29, a member of the Missouri National Guard for 12 years, teaches sixth grade industrial technology at Lange Middle School.
Although he has no political background, Sharrock said he was inspired to civic involvement while working to control floodwaters this past summer.
“I got to meet a lot of local politicians and city officials, and after seeing how they helped the people, I knew it was something I could do,” Sharrock said.
He said he has three main priorities in running for City Council, the first of which is addressing crime. “As I go door to door, that seems to be a hot topic that the citizens want me to tackle.”
Sharrock said he admires Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser’s three-part approach to crime, which includes prevention, intervention and enforcement. He said he would be willing to work with her to implement that plan.
Sharrock said he is also concerned with creating more high-paying jobs in Columbia.
“We need to give college students a reason to stay in the city,” he said.
Another issue of importance to Sharrock is fiscal responsibility and the duty of politicians to be good stewards of city tax dollars.
“I believe in Army values,” Sharrock said. “Honesty, integrity and strong ethics are good cornerstones of a politician.”
Sharrock’s Web site, allansharrock.com, will be up and running by next week, he said.