LETTER: Hoppe has balance to lead Sixth Ward, Columbia

Friday, April 3, 2009 | 12:39 p.m. CDT

I have lived in the First Ward for about 22 years, but I want to tell you why I hope Barbara Hoppe is re-elected to the Sixth Ward council seat. The simple fact is that she is one of the brightest and most balanced council members Columbia has ever had (and I am speaking as a resident of some 40 years).

She hasn’t simply given lip service to the ideas of economic growth, crime reduction and a balanced point of view: she has voted time and again to see these objectives to life in city government.

She is not the anti-growth candidate some would have us believe. In fact, Hoppe is a supporter of Discovery Ridge Research Park, where MU research will be turned into new, high-end, job-creating, clean enterprises. She voted for re-zonings that made possible expansions of ABC labs and supported Boone Hospital expansions, again creating the kind of clean jobs Columbians have long identified as our best option for a healthy future. She supported funding “shovel-ready” building sites to attract new businesses and voted for a city economic director position to help develop new economic opportunities and a sustainability director to make sure we grow in a sustainable way for the long term. She supports downtown revitalization programs and the creation of green jobs and technologies. Her economic development credentials are solid, and her positions are well thought out.

Her record on controlling crime and improving public safety is equally strong. Her “yes” votes helped hire nine new police officers, created a new street crimes unit and supported creation of a Professional Standards Unit within the Columbia Police Department. She supports the national accreditation of the police department. Not content to leave public safety to the officers alone, Hoppe advocates for the Neighborhood Watch program and other “eyes on the street” community policing techniques that beat officers say make their jobs easier and safer. It is this basic sense of shared responsibility that makes Hoppe one of our most engaged and knowledgeable council members and makes her positions truly balanced.

She seeks out public input, engages residents of the Sixth Ward and listens to the broader community before making decisions. Whether or not you agree with the vote she finally casts, you cannot complain that she didn’t payattention to your position. Look at her early support of the Columbia visioning process, her frequent meetings with neighborhood associations or the questions she poses to developer groups. Take her attendance at national and regional conferences or the fact that she’ll get out of her car to walk about the city streets she pledged to govern — Hoppe is always gathering information about the state of her ward and the state of the city. Attention to details and an eye on the big picture are what make for balance, and Hoppe’s eye misses very little.

Two men, with more experience in the public mileau than I, have spoken favorably of Hoppe recently. John Ott (noted for several forward-looking development projects downtown) wrote in the March 20 Columbia Business Times, “While others may speak of “balance” as a campaign slogan, Hoppe brings true balance to the office by approaching the complex issues our city faces with wisdom gained through years of hard work on the council.” And former city councilman Bob Hutton, in remarks read at Hoppe’s campaign kick-off celebration, said, “… it is fair to say that Barbara Hoppe has the integrity and strength of character to represent the best interests of all Columbians.” I don’t always agree with Hutton, but on this point we couldn’t be closer. Please cast your Sixth Ward vote for Barbara Hoppe.

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