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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Larger population has changed Columbia elections

By Tom Warhover
April 9, 2010 | 1:24 p.m. CDT

Tuesday’s elections produced new money for school construction, new surveillance cameras downtown and a presumed pro-development bloc on the City Council.

The races produced more spending, especially for mayor. The campaigns were more sophisticated. The Third Ward featured two months of charges and countercharges.

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Almost every candidate had his or her own Web site, and most were on Facebook and Twitter.

The results will lead to the collapse of the Roman Empire or the start of a shining city (though not by a sea).

Or something in between, as some sitting council members suggest.

"I think any time a new group of people comes in, it seems more dramatic than it will be in reality," councilman Paul Sturtz told the Missourian this week.

(Sturtz’s election was met with a mix of euphoria and dread as well, as I recall, depending on who was holding the conversation.)

The Missourian’s interactive graphic helped tell the story — stories — of the election.

My favorite precinct was the radical 6L. It was the only one in the city to vote against Proposition 3. Nine voters said 'no' against the five 'yes' votes. On Proposition 6, there was actually a 6-6 tie.

Graphic designers Chris Canipe and Brandon Schatsiek spent more than two weeks building the charts so the numbers could be integrated in minutes.

I spent probably 20 minutes perusing. It’s neat to try to pick out patterns and to see how the people in your neighborhood voted.

I’m guessing politicians in town spent a lot more time breaking down the election numbers.

Regardless of political inclination, I also heard a kind of mourning for the city that was before we became the city that is.

Campaigns have strategists. Politicians do research in who to go after and who to avoid. Advocacy is more organized. It takes real money to run.

Campaigning feels like it's all grown up in Columbia, for better and for worse.

The change didn’t happen this year or last year. It evolved over time.

One difference involves the magic number of 100,000.

In 2007, when Columbia re-elected Darwin Hindman for the last time, the city’s population was 99,174, according to the U.S. Census via Vox magazine.

We rolled the odometer over in ’08.

Tuesday was the first mayoral election of this six-numbered city. Bob McDavid now holds the gavel for a city that a decade ago was 84,000 and change.

There’s more to be made from the tea leaves, and plenty of people are reading them.