Kespohl, Dudley win City Council races

Victories help give chamber-backed candidates a sweep
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 11:37 p.m. CDT; updated 1:01 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Forest "Red" Leighton, right, congratulates Gary Kespohl upon hearing of Kespohl's victory in the Third Ward City Council race against Karl Skala at the Kespohl watch party at Jack's Gourmet Restaurant on Tuesday.

COLUMBIA – The two ward candidates backed by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce won their bids for seats on the Columbia City Council. Gary Kespohl knocked incumbent Karl Skala out of the Third Ward seat while Daryl Dudley emerged from a field of four to win the Fourth Ward seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jerry Wade.

Third Ward

Kespohl, who gathered with about 30 supporters at Jack's Gourmet Restaurant on Tuesday night, won the 2010 version of a squeaker between him and Skala. Kespohl won 1,259 votes to Skala's 1,205. Like the last time the two faced off for the ward seat, the race was decided by fewer than 100 votes. Kespohl lost that round by 63 votes in 2007.

This year, Kespohl attacked Skala, saying his votes had cost the city jobs, that his travel expenses were exorbitant and that his vote in favor of urban hens was misguided.

Kespohl, though visibly surprised, was obviously pleased with the outcome.

"I can't even talk," Kespohl said as a his longtime friend Red Leighton ran to embrace him.

“I couldn't believe I came back and won it,” he said later. And during his victory speech, he told those gathered, "I pledge to do my best to bring common-sense representation to the Third Ward."

From the beginning of his campaign, Skala kept a steadfast confidence that his council seat would be there for him after the election. He often would speak of his future plans for the council then stop mid-sentence to correct himself with "if I get re-elected, that is."

It turns out he did not.

About 40 people gathered at the Pasta Factory to support Skala. A shocked hush fell over friends and family as the last precinct's results were posted.

"We lost a very, very good man today," said Kurt Albert, who said he spent 16 days canvassing thousands of houses.

"What are you acting so sad about?" Skala said as his wife, Mahree Skala, hugged him. “I'm going fishing.”

Skala didn't stray during this campaign from positions he pushed as a council member — and as a member of the Planning and Zoning and Energy and Environment commissions before that. He believes that developers should contribute more to the cost of new infrastructure and that the city should ensure infrastructure remains ahead of development. That message, however, failed to win him a second term.

Kespohl, meanwhile, focused his campaign on creating jobs and quickly promoting growth and development to spur economic activity and, in turn, city revenue. He told the Missourian that fast development is more important than planned development.

Kespohl, like the other chamber-backed council candidates, also focused on public safety as a major issue. He supported Proposition 1 and said he would like to see $25,000 of the $40,500 allotted for council travel redirected toward the cameras.

Fourth Ward

Dudley held his watch party at Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant but was next door at fellow candidate Sarah Read's party at Shakespeare's West when the final votes came in.

Dudley, looking over Read campaign manager Dave Overfelt's shoulder, wore a blank, serious expression when the news struck. The manager of a HyVee gas station garnered 1,831 votes to slip by Tracy Greever-Rice with 1,772 votes, Read with 1,326 votes and Rick Buford with 138 votes.

Dudley, who has no experience in city government, decided to run for council after  customers at his work complained about nearby road conditions. He campaigned on a platform of public safety and job growth. His bid got a big boost when the chamber endorsed him.

"Police, fire and streets are the first on my agenda," Dudley said. "We need more police officers. The police chief needs all the help he can get."

Greever-Rice, vice chairwoman on the Columbia Visioning Commission and an alternate to the Columbia Board of Adjustment, campaigned on a platform that called for creating jobs, developing the city's work force, and improving infrastructure, public safety and government transparency.

Greever-Rice, who held a lead as the results came in most of the night, was shocked by the final tally. So were her friends and supporters at Teller's Gallery and Bar.

"Now we know how much it costs to buy an election in Columbia," Greever-Rice said. Guests at her party expressed dismay that all the candidates endorsed by the chamber won their respective races.

Read, an attorney and co-owner of The Communications Center who specializes  in mediation, called for a broad spectrum of public input as the city moves ahead with growth management planning. And Buford, a data analyst for CarFax, ran on a platform of fiscal scrutiny focusing on essential services such as police and fire protection.

Despite losing, Buford was happy with the experience.

"One of my big goals was to alter the conversation," Buford said. "I think in some ways I did alter the conversation. ... Part of the promise I made to my wife is that even if I lose that I would stay involved."

The new council members, as well as Mayor-elect Bob McDavid, will be sworn in on Monday night.

Missourian reporters Alison Gammon and Kerri Reynolds contributed to this report.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Kevin Gamble April 7, 2010 | 1:21 a.m.

Kespohl's win is a sign that ugliness, slander, and propaganda are now accepted as reasonable by a (razor-thin) majority of Third Ward voters. Dudley's victory is a defeat for substance and thoughtfulness. Overall, this election demonstrated a somewhat shocking shallowness and susceptibility to obvious manipulation on the part of Columbia voters.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez April 7, 2010 | 2:54 a.m.

Thank you voters for voting in not only these clowns but the cameras that are not needed downtown at tax payer expense! Great job you screwed every citizen in our community by voting in two people who are sucked up to the Good Ole Boy Cabal of Big Development and one of them Mike Martin has plainly shown to be a slumlord.

Thanks a lot idiots of Columbia now we will be screwed until the next elections. Our last hopes now on City Council are Thornhill,Hoppe and Nauser as last Nay votes again the Good Ole Boy Cabal that permeates this city. Now Bill Watkins will be free to continue playing God over our community. Now that you made your votes we all have to live with it and now let the crying begin in earnest.

I hope Mike Martin and other community watch dog activists are all over these new candidates like "White on Rice" and bring to the forefront every single issue that these new elected officials screw the citizens of this community over on.

Thank you once again voters for screwing us all over.

(Report Comment)
Bill Ballard April 7, 2010 | 5:01 a.m.

I find it very admirable that Daryl Dudley would take the initiative to run for office despite the lack of experience in city government. I would hope that Greever-Rice would regret the comment made immediately after the election and will give the benefit of the doubt that it is due to the shock of leading all night and then losing on the final tally. This is what the system is supposed to be about. Everyone has a chance to get involved if they take the initiative. I look forward to seeing what Daryl can do now that he has the opportunity to make a difference rather than just complaining like the rest of us. Well done Daryl.

(Report Comment)
Michael Sleadd April 7, 2010 | 5:24 a.m.

65% of the 4th ward did not vote for Daryl Dudley. Most of the citizens of the 4th ward wanted stronger representation. Yes, we have a huge mess with the results of this election. We have lost good people and gained new council members who are uninformed, inexperienced and easily influenced by the dark side of development (yes there can be good development). It is a dark and dangerous time for the city.

(Report Comment)
Michael Sleadd April 7, 2010 | 5:43 a.m.

And...Karl only lost by a very few votes. What were the Kespohl voters thinking? "Let's get rid of brilliant, hard working, informed, highly respected nationally Karl Skala and elect a man who rents apartments to criminals, has strings attached to the dark side of development, heaves massive amounts of muddy political claptrap, is inexperienced in city government, doesn't want to become better informed, on and on and on..." What were the voters thinking? As I said previously, this is a dark and dangerous time for Columbia.

(Report Comment)
Michael Scott April 7, 2010 | 7:48 a.m.

The bottom line is that the Citizens of this community have sent the message that jobs and safety are their main priority. Fortunately we have 3 new council members that understand that and can move us forward. If the candidates backed by the no growth coalition had won, there would be no hope for a quick recovery.

It's time to realize that the Columbia chamber of Commerce, central missouri development council and other similar organizations bring in the sales tax and provide the jobs that keeps our city running. The Chamber had every right to back responsible candidates and we will all be thankful that they won!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 7, 2010 | 8:31 a.m.

Trouble is things won't change that much, because the jobs aren't out there to attract, and there is little that cameras or more police can do to stop the kind of crime we've seen a spike in. Only the courts can get some of these guys off the streets and keep them off, and Council has no influence with them.

What will more likely happen is Council will permit a new round of sprawl in the name of economic "growth", and the resulting problems will prove to be unpopular enough that the composition of the Council will swing back to what it was before the election.

Fortunately these things don't affect me personally very much. But they'll affect a lot of voters that will wonder in a year or two what they were thinking.


(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 7, 2010 | 11:08 a.m.

I feel like I took a test and got all the answers wrong. Columbia still has lots going for it, but the most troubling aspect for me is the Chamber of Commerce dipping their secret foot into electioneering. Secret panels, secret processes and public endorsements are antithetical to open elections. They've succeeded in monetizing the democratic process.
I hope their investment doesn't pay off.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 7, 2010 | 11:30 a.m.

Gregg, you are not alone: I failed the test too. So, I strongly suspect, did John Schultz and Mark Foecking.

Damn! I pulled an "all nighter" getting ready for that test.

On a more serious note, we are going to need to vigilantly track what happens next. Columbia isn't a perfect place, but I sometimes wonder whether those who think it's bad have ever lived someplace else.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler April 7, 2010 | 12:25 p.m.

Yes, Columbia and the surrounding area seems to be a pretty great place to work and live, I agree, considering what else is out there, but what I don't understand is really why a few people have tried to create the image of downtown Columbia as crime ridden and in need of an army of surveillance cameras.

I have asked over and over what kind of crimes are we seeing, are these serious in nature, or petty, I seem to never be able to get a direct answer only evasiveness and "the sky is falling' type responses from a few. I ask for facts over and over and nobody seems to have any to back up this (chaotic mess, as one poster put it, *rising crime* as another out it) assertion. Why?

If I had to hazard a guess, this is what I would suspect. Business owners and others downtown just don't like the poor, sick and homeless that can be found in that area,'loitering' at certain times, and perhaps young/college student 'partiers' that go to the district in the late hours, as another poster (Hi Al) called 'them' *scumbags*, or perhaps 'undesirables' who create a bad 'image' for the district. Perhaps these people do occasionally engage in petty 'crimes', I don't doubt it, but how much of this is really causing such a problem that it TRULY affects any business going on there and is really of a serious nature???

Is it just 'distasteful' to the 'upper crust' type of snobbery that looks down their noses at people of lesser means, or is there REALLY a SERIOUS problem of crime there. Why can't ANYONE site HARD EVIDENCE???

Perhaps the investigator in me needs to take a video camera downtown, go out on the streets about 1:00 in the morning and have a look myself. I'll be happy to do a story and sell it to the Missourian, so we can all get at the TRUTH of what kind of 'crime' is occurring and just how bad it really is (or isn't). We all want the TRUTH here don't we, or do we just always need some kind of 'shadowy enemy' out there to keep the dollars flowing and people rallied behind the latest 'boogieman'. I'd like to find out PERSONALLY as that is always the best IMO way of learning 'just what the facts are.' Sound REASONABLE???

(Report Comment)
Rachel Heaton April 7, 2010 | 12:59 p.m.

Mr. Kabler,

The Missourian ran a story not too long ago that took a look at the crime rate in Columbia over several years adjusted for population. What we found was that it was pretty flat. You can read more about it and examine the numbers here:

We also addressed downtown crime rates as well as we could in our coverage of Proposition 1. You can read about that here: The story explains some of the difficulty in pinning down numbers specific to the downtown area.

Hopefully those stories answer some of your questions about crime rates. Let me know if I can be of any more help.

Rachel Heaton
Assistant City Editor
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Michael Schrantz April 7, 2010 | 1:01 p.m.

I failed the overall test but at least I know there are plenty of like-minded people in my precinct.

You can check how your precinct voted (compared to citywide) using the interactive map. Click on an issue then where you live to see the breakdown.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 7, 2010 | 1:03 p.m.

Yes, Carl Kabler, it sounds reasonable.

Here's another point to ponder. Let's arbitrarily forget about "downtown image" and "elites" for a minute. I'd like to see data printed in either local newspaper stating the annual revenues from downtown versus annual revenues for the same time period from Columbia Mall and an area 6-10 blocks around it - plus an area 6-8 blocks around the intersection of South Providence and Nifong.

How empty would downtown be if all law offices were closed and the firms moved to suburban locations? Am I suggesting they should be? Of course not.

Are we spending money where the greatest economic activity takes place?

One question about surveillance cameras. Will they at some point be coordinated with surveillance cameras at MU? There's a common boundary involved.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler April 7, 2010 | 3:38 p.m.

Thanks Rachel, much appreciated the effort that the Missourian takes to keep Columbia and the surrounding areas informed, I'll check out the links.
Nobody knows it all, or has all the answers, myself obviously included, but I, like many others, seek to be adequately informed and spend quite a good deal of time looking into the 'nature of things' especially when they seem timely and relevant as many of the discussed issues do.
I have spent alot of electrons engaging in lively dialogue with others here (and many other places),just want to say, hope nobody takes any offense at any of my 'spirited' comments,but if they do well.... guess that's just a part of the process, but not my intention really to offend anyone.
I have talked alot too about the bigger issue I see here with what current trends tell me is coming down the pike for U.S. citizens, regarding what I and many others see as
a growing 'surveillance state'. I talk to many many people all over the world and I can honestly say at this point I am JUST as concerned (if not maybe more) with the growing loss of Liberty and Privacy here and elsewhere as I am with any crime trends.

I fully believe in the Founders vision that IMO this country was established on, and just hate to see us slowly slowly let these ideals slip away and be replaced with some form of 'commi/fascism'. (for lack of a better term)

Many people won't understand what I wrote, when they read my other posts they may think I have gone off the 'deep end', that's fine, but I can assure people, I do more homework on general future all around trends than most people, doesn't mean necessarily I'm any more in the loop than the next guy or gal, perhaps just that I expend more effort looking through my 'crystal ball', but what I find really really has me concerned as to any future.

I would love to see more topics discussed (and perhaps the Missourian has) related to liberty and privacy and civil rights among other things and how this surveillance society is being pushed (from WAY at the top) which has the potential to maybe not affect us (older? people), but our children and their children etc. Things like NAIS (mandatory? microchipping) are a big worry to many local farmers, the 1 MILLION people on watch lists? (c'mon ALL these folks REALLY *terrorists*?), laws being written to FORCE people to take untested vaccines, Verichip cradle to grave tracking being pushed for HUMANS, etc. etc., I know many of these issues are not YET on many peoples radar screens, simply because big CORPORATE media (mostly) refuses to keep people well informed, and seems to have an agenda to keep these things OUT of the public eye to avoid any controversy. But it's essential IMO for citizens of a Republic to keep the dialoguq open and top stay involved, if they don't I fear one day they may wake up in a totally different world than the one they went to 'sleep' in, and may wish they had tried harder to stay awake.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock April 7, 2010 | 3:52 p.m.

Mr Slead, Dark and dangerous times? Seriously... Karl burned bridges and he knows it. He like a lot of other candidates were everyday run of the mill people who decided to get involved. Just because a person is elected doesn't mean that they are somehow more qualified or is a better leader than a unelected person. Furthermore, just because a person has more experience doesn't mean they represent the interests of their constituents. McCain had FAR more experience than Obama and guess what McCain at the time apparently didn't represent all the voters views and was not elected. Robb a Republican is running for county commissioner. He has far more legislative experience than the Dem candidates have at this time. However, I am willing to bet that you vote against him because he is a conservative and may not have the same views as you. The Chamber and CMDC all know that if their candidates vote in stuff that is very unpopular then their candidate will lose in the next election as Columbia has very informed voters. You do the voters in Columbia a disservice by suggesting otherwise.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock April 7, 2010 | 3:56 p.m.

"Now we know how much it costs to buy an election in Columbia," Greever-Rice said.

Tracy should call and apologize to Dudley and the Chamber as this was a very unprofessional comment. I understand what it is like to lose a election but I didn't lash out about losing. It doesn't matter Tracy about how much money you have. I raised and whopping $2000 and lost by 29 votes. Money isn't everything. Although I will admit it helps. Tracy may have lost that many votes to her deletion of the Tribune comments.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 7, 2010 | 5:28 p.m.

No Allan, Greever Rice was spot on. If Dudley stood for something, it be on thing. However a campaign strategy of saying nothing and big signs doesn't do much to inform voters Prop 1 was a wedge issue. Rich businessman had large prop 1 signs on the property away from downtown. money=message=votes. The council indeed has been dumbed down

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 11, 2010 | 9:47 p.m.

("Kevin Gamble
Kespohl's win is a sign that ugliness, slander, and propaganda are now accepted as reasonable by a (razor-thin) majority of Third Ward voters. Dudley's victory is a defeat for substance and thoughtfulness. Overall, this election demonstrated a somewhat shocking shallowness and susceptibility to obvious manipulation on the part of Columbia voters.")

From the 2007 campaign against Karl Skala:

(Kespohl said:
"I'm not pro-development or anti-development," he said. "I don't have an ax to grind with anyone.")

-Apparently he did during this campaign and now we have a few to grind with him.

("When there is an individual in the congregation who has had a tragedy, Gary has always been one to step up and offer to help.")

-I wouldn't ask him for help if my dog died.

source & more:

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.