COLUMBIA — On Monday night, members of the Mid-Missouri Labor Club questioned mayoral candidates about overtime pay, collective bargaining and council-manager government.
It is the first time the Labor Club held such a meeting with mayoral candidates.
Five of the six mayoral candidates were in attendance; candidate Sal Nuccio did not attend. Each had about 25 minutes to address the group of about 20 and answer questions.
Club members questioned Fourth Ward Councilman and mayoral candidate Jerry Wade’s City Council vote in September 2009 to restructure overtime hours for city workers.
“That decision last year is the single toughest decision I’ve made at City Council,” Wade said.
Wade added that when the city gets a “stable revenue stream” he wants to bring up the city workers at the bottom end of the salary scale.
During the meeting, James Turner, an MU employee, said Wade talked about overtime as if it was a gift.
Regina Guevara, a field representative with the Local 773 union, said she wasn’t happy with the way Wade voted on the overtime pay issue.
“He voted against the people,” she said. She added that understanding Wade as a potential mayor is easier because of his time on the council.
When asked about the council-manager form of government, candidate Sid Sullivan said the council shouldn’t be afraid to communicate with city workers when making policy decisions.
“As your mayor, I would certainly lead the charge in saying council has this authority,” Sullivan added.
When questioned about Boone Hospital Center construction projects, candidate Bob McDavid, who serves on the board of trustees at the hospital, said the board gives local preference when they can.
“We’re not going low bid, we’re going best bid,” he said.
McDavid also addressed the city’s relationship to MU during the question and answer session and said it was important to grow to attract people to the area.
Candidate Sean O’Day’s age was brought into question when Turner asked O’Day if he’d graduated yesterday. O’Day, 23, is the youngest candidate in the race. He is currently enrollyed at Moberly Area Community College.
“How do you expect to run a complex city like Columbia?” he added.
O’Day said he’d had been interested in politics for a long time and that he was very familiar with the issues facing the city.
Russ Unger, president of the club, asked O’Day if he supported issues especially important to the union workers, such as collective bargaining.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Workers have to be able to get together.”
Candidate Paul Love said programs would have to be cut because of city finances.
“Good, bad or otherwise, at least I’m being honest,” he said.
Love also said that he wanted to focus on bringing in high-technology jobs because “they just need people and power” and wouldn’t cause a lot of controversy.
Tim Nowlin, with the Glaziers Architectural Metal and Glass Workers Local 513 union, said there would be controversy if there were substandard wages, though.
“My face will be the first you’ll see out there with a sign around my neck,” Nowlin said.