Columbia City Council races take shape

A total of six to compete for two open seats
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | 7:24 p.m. CST; updated 10:04 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

COLUMBIA — The deadline for filing for two open seats on the City Council was 5 p.m. Monday. In the end, six candidates submitted petitions to get their names on the ballot.

The petitions were filed with the city clerk's office and certified by Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren. The municipal election is April 5. 

Four people will compete to succeed Paul Sturtz in the First Ward, and two will vie for the Fifth Ward seat being vacated by Laura Nauser.

A list of names that appeared on the petitions can be found here. Some signatures were not validated by the clerk, but each of the six candidates received at least 50 signatures, the minimum required to win a spot on the ballot.

Here's a brief look at the candidates:

First Ward

Pam Forbes has lived in Boone County since 1976 and is a toolmaker at Schneider Electrics Square D. She has been a member of the Community Development Commission for 18 months and has most recently been involved in People for a Taser-Free Columbia.

"As a five-year resident (of the First Ward) ... I have a clear and detailed view of the ward," she said in a previous Missourian article.

Forbes said housing repair, city infrastructure, supporting local business and expanding cultural opportunities are among issues that need to be addressed.

Mitch Richards is a member of Keep Columbia Free and is a frequent critic of the Columbia Police Department. His involvement in local government affairs began during the spring campaign surrounding the question of whether to install security cameras downtown. Richards opposed the idea. Voters approved the cameras citywide, but First Ward voters rejected them.

Richards said the camera campaign prompted his interest in city government. He began attending meetings of the City Council and the Citizens Police Review Board, and he talked with people who have been raided by SWAT teams and feels there is a need for greater civilian oversight of the Police Department.

Richards considers himself pro-business and said he wants to push for government accountability.

Fred Schmidt hopes to tackle issues related to the city’s budget and financial stability and its pension system. Born and raised in Columbia, Schmidt decided to come back five years ago and start his own accounting firm, Accounting Cycle.

Schmidt has been an active member of neighborhood associations the past few years and said he is committed to bringing people together to solve local problems, according to a previous Missourian article.

Schmidt thinks fixing run-down homes could be accomplished through government funding, rezoning or low-cost, grassroots solutions among others.

He also wants to focus on high unemployment in the First Ward. He said the city could take more advantage of state and federally funded job-training programs.

Darrell Foster, who is a member of the First Ward Ambassadors, said he, too, wants to push for government accountability and transparency.

Foster told the Missourian that he wants to bring different First Ward stakeholders together to solve central city problems. He said youth development programs and education are key.

Fifth Ward

Helen Anthony, a Columbia resident since 2003, has been a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission since 2007. Anthony has focused much of her effort as a commissioner on the East Columbia Area Plan and a comprehensive plan for Columbia.

Anthony wants to address the city’s zoning regulations and land-use policies as a member of the City Council.

Anthony earned a degree in government at Colby College in Maine and earned a law degree at the New England School of Law in Boston. She has been a licensed attorney since 1988 and was partner in her own firm before she moved to Columbia to marry Douglas Anthony, chairman of the pathology and anatomical science departments at MU.

Glen Ehrhardt believes Columbia is at a crossroads to its future.

“I have lived here for over 30 years, and I believe it’s important to be proactive and give back to the community,” Ehrhardt said.

His three top priorities are economic development, public safety and maintaining neighborhoods' characters.

Ehrhardt said he hopes to increase job opportunities for people living in Columbia as well as outlying areas in Boone County. He also wants to maintain resources for the Police and Fire departments while making sure that the Public Works Department has the money necessary to ensure roads are safe.

Although Ehrhardt is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, he said he reached the decision to run for council independent of the chamber and had not spoken with the chamber’s recruitment committee as a whole.

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