COLUMBIA — Physician Bob McDavid will be the next mayor of Columbia after cruising to a relatively easy victory in a six-way race to replace five-term incumbent Darwin Hindman, who did not seek re-election.
McDavid — who enjoyed the endorsement of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the support of Columbia firefighters and police officers and an unprecedented campaign treasury that he reported last week was around $56,000 — got 54.2 percent of the vote.
Tuesday night, McDavid was surrounded by exuberant supporters at Shiloh Bar and Grill when the results came in. The campaign tallied the results of the mayor's race and Proposition 1 on a large tablet.
"I felt kind of peaceful going into tonight," McDavid said. "We worked hard, ran a good campaign and a positive campaign. I was at peace knowing we did everything we could do."
McDavid won the six-person mayoral election with 9,935 votes, or 54 percent. He was followed by Jerry Wade with 5,187 votes, Sid Sullivan with 2,222 votes, Paul Love with 454 votes, Sal Nuccio with 360 votes and Sean O'Day with 173 votes.
During the campaign, McDavid emphasized his 12 years on the Boone Hospital Center board of trustees. He has chaired the board since 2007 but said he would step down if elected mayor.
Across town at the House of Chow, the mood at Wade's watch party changed dramatically as the final results came in. After all precincts reported, what had been an upbeat crowd fell to murmurs about the new make-up of the council.
"The votes are in pretty direct proportion to the amount of money spent. That, to me, says something," said Wade, who served 12 years on the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission.
Wade gave up his Fourth Ward seat on the City Council to run for mayor. Given his loss and the victors in the Third and Fourth ward races, he said, "we have a different set of dynamics on the council."
"We have a community that is highly divided and fragmented, and I do not see anything in this election which carries much hope of beginning to bring the community together," he said. "That, to me, may be the saddest outcome of the election."
Wade's platform centered on creating jobs and implementing more technical training. The Columbia Black Roundtable, the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition and the Osage Group of the Sierra Club endorsed him.
Wade said he plans to remain active as a private citizen.
Sullivan is no stranger to elections. Before running for mayor, he sought the 24th District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives and the southern Boone County commissioner seat. In the campaign for mayor, he focused on strengthening neighborhoods and bringing retirees to town to bolster economic activity.
"We were up against a lot of money," said Arthur Nunn, Sullivan's campaign manager. "I think we did a pretty good job based on that."
The Boone County Smart Growth Coalition also endorsed Sullivan, who said he is unsure whether he'll run for office again.
"Other candidates raised the fear issue of crime, and people vote fear," Sullivan said. "They were successful with that. They spent a lot of money on that."
Candidate Sean O'Day was among the Sullivan supporters gathered at Broadway Brewery on Tuesday night. On March 30, O'Day endorsed Sullivan. Paul Love was at McNally's, his normal Tuesday night hangout, as the results came in. Sal Nuccio was working at his bar, Eastside Tavern, on Tuesday night. He attended no campaign forums.
McDavid will accept the mayor's gavel from Hindman after being sworn in on Monday night. His platform focused on public safety, increasing economic activity and preserving neighborhoods. McDavid was the only mayoral candidate to strongly endorse downtown cameras.
"I'm elated," Danny Spry of the Columbia Professional Fire Fighters said. "I know he's a man who has so much to give Columbia. He supports public safety and supports growth. It's a breath of fresh air (to have McDavid as mayor)."
At candidate debates and forums, McDavid repeatedly said Columbia's mayor must be a salesperson for the city.
"I feel a sense of obligation and responsibility going out to represent Columbia," McDavid said Tuesday night at his election night party. "Columbia's a great town, and it's going to become a greater town."
Missourian reporters Chris Canipe and Ryan Martin contributed to this report.