COLUMBIA — A 38-year-old Columbia real-estate agent has joined the race to fill the City Council seat opening in the Second Ward.
The deadline for filing has passed, and according to City Clerk Sheela Amin, the ballots are set for the April 7 council elections. Jason Thornhill, co-owner and broker-salesman at Weichert, Realtors — First Tier, will take on Allan Sharrock in the race for the council seat vacated by 18-year incumbent Chris Janku.
Thornhill said that, if elected, he would focus on crime reduction, job creation and better communication between the city and the county.
"The way the economy is right now, we all have to figure out how to work together to improve the situation we're in," Thornhill said.
The lifelong Boone County resident said that crime has increased in Columbia as a result of the nation's faltering economy and that he would seek to curb crime through both economic and law enforcement channels. Thornhill pledged "a high level of support for the local police" and said he hopes to "increase the number of those folks that are out trying to deter crime."
On the economic side, Thornhill said people at the city, the county, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Regional Economic Development Inc. "need to devise a plan and work together to draw employers here." He said the city has a long way to go before it will be viewed as a legitimate option for businesses looking to relocate.
Sharrock, the 29-year-old sixth-grade teacher who will compete with Thornhill for the seat, expressed similar priorities in a Wednesday interview with the Missourian. Sharrock said he would work to reduce crime, create high-paying jobs and be a good steward of the public's tax dollars.
Thornhill moved to Columbia in 1988, two months after he and 31 other people graduated from high school in Sturgeon, a small town in northern Boone County. Thornhill came to attend MU and later earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from William Woods University in Fulton.
After working in retail management, Thornhill became a real-estate agent in 2002. Thornhill said selling homes in the area has given him a strong working knowledge of the community in general and the unique needs of the Second Ward in particular.
As a real- estate agent, Thornhill said, he learned to sit down with people, listen to their wants and needs, and determine the best way to help them. Those are skills he said would help him better serve constituents, many of whom he said have bought houses from him over the years.
Thornhill moved to northwest Columbia in 1996 and lives there with his wife of almost 10 years, Leslie Thornhill, and twin 3-year-old children. Thornhill said that in good weather, he often can be found on the golf course or riding around in the 1966 Ford Mustang he restored.
On the other side of town, incumbent Barbara Hoppe and Rod Robison will compete for the Sixth Ward council seat.