Skala holds Third Ward campaign kick-off

Sunday, January 24, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 8:38 a.m. CST, Monday, January 25, 2010

 Karl Skala is a familiar face at Sven’s Kafe and Gallery, where he holds his regular “office hours.” But Saturday afternoon was a little bit different than Skala’s normal attendance at Sven’s. This time around, Skala was holding an event to kick off his campaign to remain in his position as Third Ward councilman.

About halfway through the event, Skala spoke to the crowd about taking a "bottom up approach" to government. 

“I’m not the boss,” Skala said. “You are.”

In his speech, Skala outlined the three components of his platform: public safety, prosperity and responsive city government.

Around 60 people came to the event and they had the opportunity to sign up to volunteer with Skala’s campaign or donate to the campaign.

“I won’t take a lot more of your time,” Skala joked at the end of his speech. “But I will take more of your money.”

Mahree Skala, Karl Skala’s wife, is working to organize volunteers to work on the campaign. Mahree said the campaign had 25 volunteers now, but she expected that to grow.

As the campaign kicks off, Mahree said the campaign is working to fill up the next month with house parties in the different Third Ward neighborhoods. She said volunteers will begin going door-to-door in March when the election is closer.

“But Karl will be out knocking on doors tomorrow,” she said.

Alyce Turner, a volunteer for Skala, said grassroots organizing will be important in this race. She said the campaign will be working over the next several months to distribute Skala’s blue and yellow campaign yard signs. Turner, an Environment and Energy Commissioner, is giving time to the campaign even though she doesn’t live in Skala's ward.

“His vote doesn’t just impact his ward,” she said. “His vote is for the entire community."

She said Skala's experience on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Environment and Energy Commission made him an “effective council person.”

 Sixth Ward councilwoman Barbara Hoppe attended the event and said she respected Skala’s hard work on the council and supports him “absolutely, 100 percent.”

“He really does what’s best for the public and his ward,” she added.

Although Skala is not publicly endorsing candidates in any of the races, he said with three seats up it was a “critical election.”

Skala is running against Gary Kespohl for the second election in a row. The two also ran against each other for the Third Ward seat in 2007.


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Larry Bossaller January 24, 2010 | 1:49 p.m.

Karl is very committed to the cause of a "Better Columbia". He is honest, hardworking,intelligent, knowledgeable,open,and puts "principles before personalities"!! I don't agree with him 100%, but that is normal with capable people. I do support him because of my comments above and know he is the right person for the Council! Go with Karl!!!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin January 24, 2010 | 4:10 p.m.

I'm surprised to see Gary Kespohl running again. Back in March 2007, during his first attempt, I wrote this story:

Council Candidate Gary Kespohl: Walking the Walk -- Or Not?
March 27, 2007
The Columbia Heart Beat

In what may be a striking example of rhetoric versus reality, Third Ward Columbia city council candidate Gary Kespohl doesn't seem to be walking the walk when it comes to a central mantra of his campaign: that landlords need to reduce problems with and on their properties.

Touting his experience as a property manager, Kespohl warns on his candidacy website against homes that "serve as the locations of perpetual nuisance activities," advocating for "increased enforcement of codes and the new nuisance property laws," as well as an "improved police presence."

But Kespohl doesn't need more police on his own rental properties. He already has plenty. Columbia police department records show officers have served over three dozen arrest warrants to tenants of Kespohl-owned properties in recent years, many of them on Demaret Drive and Pierre Street.

Offenses included stealing, assault, resisting arrest, child endangerment, drug possession, disturbing the peace, and failure to register as a sex offender.

On February 20, Columbia police arrested Kenneth Charles Brunner for the third time in less than a year, labeling him a "persistent offender."

In each case, Brunner has resided at 4712 Pierre St., a property Kespohl and his wife have owned for several years.

Kespohl should be well aware of the criminal activity. Columbia police department crime free housing program officer Tim Thomason says his department sends notices to landlords whenever tenants are arrested.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock January 24, 2010 | 9:47 p.m.

How many properties does he rent? I mean if he has over 100 then I would say that those numbers probably are not that high. I am not a landlord but I am sure you can't just kick out a person for being arrested. I would think you would have to be found guilty first. Then I guess it would depend upon the crime.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin January 25, 2010 | 8:31 a.m.


Kespohl and his wife have about 20 rental units between them.

And the chronic offender I referenced above -- Kenneth Charles Brunner -- got arrested for a fourth time living at Kespohl's property in 2008.

Kenneth Charles Brunner, 27, of 4712 Pierre St., third-degree domestic assault

You most certainly can kick a person out for being arrested, especially for multiple or serious offenses.

Many of us landlords (I've been doing rental property management for nearly 20 years) have a so-called Crime Free Housing addenda in our leases that takes a zero-tolerance policy toward crime.

We realize that harboring criminals can damage our neighborhoods, our properties, and open us up to tremendous liability, especially if one of our tenants hurts someone on or around our property.

What might happen if, say, the sex offender Kespohl rented to in 2005
molested a neighbor or hurt someone on the rental property?

That tenant was arrested twice for failing to register as a sex offender -- once while he was a Kespohl tenant -- and since 1986 had been convicted 14 times, of offenses ranging from burglary, assault, property damage, and in 1991 for 1st degree Felony Sexual Abuse.

A simple screening will catch all this stuff and the liability for not catching it is a risk no landlord should be willing to take.

What's more -- as a former city council candidate, you should realize this -- you don't campaign on an anti-crime platform, as Kespohl is now doing, when you have these kinds of problems.

Last time, he even campaigned on a platform of landlords against crime and nuisances!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 25, 2010 | 9:20 a.m.

All good points, Columbia Heartbeat.
The landlords' role, in an open town with fluctuating demographic changes, is one of a "gate keeper" and "watch dog," serving as the front line agent towards maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
May the vest candidate win.

(Report Comment)

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