COLUMBIA – Gary Kespohl, a candidate for the Third Ward seat on the Columbia City Council, officially launched his campaign Thursday evening at Jack’s Gourmet Restaurant.
Kespohl is running against one-term incumbent Karl Skala. The two ran against each other in 2007, when Kespohl lost by only 63 votes.
Although the faces running for the Third Ward chair are the same, Kespohl said he’ll take a new approach this time. His campaign crew will be knocking on doors, and he said he’ll call attention to Skala’s voting record.
Kespohl’s kickoff welcomed supporters from several Columbia wards in an open-house setting that saw people coming and going between 5 and 7:30 p.m.
“As a business person, I’d like Columbia to be more friendly to the businesses,” said David Babel, a Third Ward resident who attended the event and lives in Kespohl’s neighborhood. “He’ll serve his ward and, more importantly, he’ll bring a broader perspective to the city as well.”
Kespohl, 62, plans to make public safety and jobs central to his campaign. He supports the installation of security cameras downtown, a measure that will appear on the April ballot along with the City Council elections, several city charter amendments, a school bond issue and school board races.
Bill Raines, who retired as a representative of State Farm Insurance, was among the supporters who turned out at the kickoff.
“He uses good judgment,” Raines said of Kespohl. “I like his views toward business, especially small business.”
As owner and manager of Central Missouri Computer Center, Kespohl said he’s grown concerned about Columbia’s growth in the past several years. He said the lack of development contributes to higher crime rates and lower revenue.
“Growth will put people back to work and (move them) away from crime,” he said.
“I want to make some changes in the city,” Kespohl said in a short speech. “I want to make it easier for Columbia to live and work and build.”
Kespohl said he will tour the Third Ward on foot, knocking on neighborhood doors in mid-February and in March. He also plans to gain support through social media and speeches.