COLUMBIA — For the first time in its more than 100 years of existence, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorsed candidates and ballot issues appearing in an election.
Along with supporting Proposition 1, the school bond issue and the home rule city charter amendments, the chamber endorsed Bob McDavid for mayor, Gary Kespohl for the Third Ward seat and Daryl Dudley for the Fourth Ward seat. All endorsed candidates and issues won.
The endorsement process began on Jan. 15, when the chamber's board of directors voted to "establish an Endorsement Task Force to review and make recommendations to the board of directors for possible endorsements in the upcoming April election," according to minutes of the meeting.
Chamber president Don Laird said that the six-member task force was "fairly representative" of the chamber's nearly 1,170 members.
Some information about the chamber's endorsement process was not clear. Only five names of the members were released, and minutes from a February meeting of the chamber's board of directors were unclear in showing how the vote to approve the task force's recommendations went.
Laird said the chamber does not raise money for the candidates, despite endorsements. However, former board member Tom Atkins and current board member Larry Moore mailed letters, which were signed by 11 people with connections to the chamber, citing the chamber's endorsements as a reason to contribute donations to the candidates' campaigns and support the campaign in favor of Proposition 1.
The municipal election saw candidates for the Columbia City Council and Columbia Board of Education raise more than $178,000 in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance reports filed with election authorities March 29.
Do you think the endorsements made by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce affected Tuesday's election results?