COLUMBIA — The NAACP forum Tuesday night might have discovered a topic that Columbia City Council, mayoral and school board candidates can all agree on: if the city supports youth programs, economic and social diversity might grow with it.
Although each candidate had different approaches to issues such as tax revenue, job growth and the Citizens Police Review Board, the forum questions, which were submitted on note cards and read by moderator Virginia Law, seemed to always drift back to focus on support and enrichment of youth programs.
Mayoral candidates were asked to discuss and elaborate on Monday night’s council meeting about the Youth Resolution Program. The question asked what candidates would do to promote a positive, safe atmosphere for a more youth- and family-friendly community.
Candidate Sid Sullivan said creation of a youth services bureau could facilitate cooperation between police and parents. Keeping children out of police custody, unless as a last resort, could keep young people away from crime.
Candidates Sean O’Day, Paul Love and Bob McDavid outlined school and community programs for bolstering a community that supports its youth, such as the Big Brothers and Big Sisters or using school extracurricular activities as incentive to do well in school in order to participate in clubs students enjoy.
Another candidate, Jerry Wade, read from the resolution presented to the City Council on Monday night and said bringing young people to places like the Columbia Black Round Table and letting them speak would give the city a direction for helping disadvantaged youth.
Council Ward candidates also discussed, as one question was posed, ways to "combat, undo and ultimately dismantle racism," balance of power between the city manager and the council and diversity training for city workers and police officers.