COLUMBIA — Mayoral candidates and campaign representatives took a neighborhood focus on larger city issues of crime, city programs and schools at an informational session held by the Parkade Neighborhood Association Monday night.
"This is part of a year-long process to get our organization up and moving," Parkade Neighborhood Association President Don Spradling said. Spradling said the association has grown dramatically in the past year.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity for the mayoral candidates to speak with association members," he said.
Mayoral candidates Sid Sullivan, Paul Love and Sean O’Day spoke to members of the association at a meeting Monday night.
Fourth Ward councilman Jerry Wade was unable to attend the event because he was at a Columbia City Council work session. He sent Homer Page to represent him. Page is the chairman of the Columbia Disabilities Commission.
Bob McDavid was unable to attend the event because he was at a Barnes Jewish Christian board of directors meeting in St. Louis. His wife, Suzanne McDavid, read a prepared statement. Candidate Sal Nuccio was also not in attendance.
The candidates and representatives had five minutes to present information on their platforms and then were asked three questions prepared by Spradling. Suzanne McDavid declined to participate in the Q&A portion.
Q: In the last five years, Columbia’s residential areas have had increases in crime. What are the contributing factors and what should be done to solve this problem?
A: All candidates said they would utilize community policing.
Love: Love also said Columbia’s growth was leading to more organized crime in the city.
O’Day: O’Day also said keeping kids occupied in programs and jobs was an important part of keeping crime in Columbia down.
Sullivan: Sullivan also said it was important to pay attention to the impact growth has had on crime rates in Columbia.
Page, for Wade: Page also said Wade wants to develop a policy to deal with illegal drug use.
Q: What types of community programs and organizations would you like to see implemented?
Love: “There are programs that are popular that are going to be cut.” Love said The community would need to pull together to meet the needs that could come from city programs being cut due to budget constraints.
O’Day: “We need youth programs for entrepreneurship and science.” O’Day also said that he thought it would be appropriate for the city to sponsor programs in these areas because the federal government has similar programs, though he didn't specify further.
Sullivan: “I really don’t see a lot of new programs being implemented.” Sullivan said the city will need to focus on the most valuable programs due to budget constraints, though he didn't specify what those valuable programs are.
Page, for Wade: “The way to keep a neighborhood up and functioning and dynamic is to address the infrastructure.” Page also said Wade wants to implement a mapping program to prioritize infrastructure needs.
Q: Many schools did not meet standards, including Parkade Elementary. Howcan the city help to avoid problems in the future?
Love: “Education is a partnership between the child, the teacher and the parents.” Love also said he disagreed with cutting science and math teachers in public schools.
O’Day: “I want to promote getting more private schools.” O’Day said increasing the number of private schools would help take the burden off of the public schools.
Sullivan: “We need to have a program for needy kids.” Sullivan said he would like the council to make decisions that would actively help meet the needs of underprivileged kids in the community.
Page, for Wade: Page said Wade wants to implement a good technical training program for students.
The Columbia School Board regulates schools. The council would only have influence in areas such as tax abatement and zoning property for new schools.