COLUMBIA — Helen Anthony, who ran on a platform of managed growth, was elected Tuesday to the Fifth Ward seat on the Columbia City Council.
Anthony, who highlighted her service on the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission, outpolled fellow attorney Glen Ehrhardt 1,725 to 1,505.
An emotional Anthony, addressing supporters at Sophia's Restaurant moments after the final results came in, said she was surprised by the outcome. "I only wrote a different kind of speech for tonight," she said.
"It was quite a fight, but your encouragement helped me pull through," she told the gathering of about 40 people.
Former Fifth Ward councilman Karl Kruse advised Anthony during her campaign. After the results were in, Kruse said he was overwhelmed.
"We knew it would be tough, but we did it," Kruse said. "This is more than just about winning in the Fifth Ward. This says something about Columbia. Enough with all the special interest groups. It's now about what the people have said, what is best for the community as a whole, and that is what this was really all about."
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, who attended the watch party, said Anthony was her preferred candidate.
"We are like-minded, and I would love to have another woman on the council," Hoppe said. "We need to be having a diverse dialogue of opinions on the council instead of just more of the same."
During the campaign, Anthony cast Ehrhardt as a business candidate who favored "unrestricted city expansion."
A few days before the election, she also mailed fliers that focused on the propriety of city firefighters campaigning on Ehrhardt's behalf after he was endorsed by the Columbia Professional Firefighters Association. The flier says: "What has Ehrhardt promised the firefighters?"
Ehrhardt became the first candidate backed by the Chamber of Commerce to lose a council race since the business organization made its first endorsements in 2010. All three candidates the Chamber endorsed in 2010's municipal election won seats on the council: Gary Kespohl in the Third Ward, , Daryl Dudley in the Fourth Ward and Mayor Bob McDavid.
Ehrhardt characterized himself as “business-friendly” throughout his campaign and ran on a platform built primarily on public safety, similar to the strategy used by Kespohl and Dudley in the 2010 council election.
Efforts to reach Ehrhardt by telephone Tuesday evening for comment were unsuccessful.
Former Fourth Ward councilman and mayoral candidate Jerry Wade said before the polls closed on Tuesday that Anthony's experience in city government would add to diversity in terms of the philosophy and beliefs represented on the council.
“I think that if Glen was elected, it would be another council member very similar to the ones elected a year ago,” Wade said. “The diversity of thought would be reduced.”
Laura Nauser, who is vacating the Fifth Ward council seat, said Tuesday she believed both Ehrhardt and Anthony were quality candidates and that each would bring a perspective similar to her ideologies, though in their own way.
“While on the council, I've been a big advocate of planning strategic growth,” Nauser said, adding that Anthony’s experience on the planning commission would be valuable as a councilwoman. "We share that same vision of planning," Nauser said. "Conversely, Glen and I share the vision of conservative finance and business planning.”
Nauser did not officially endorse either candidate, though she said she did help Ehrhardt in his campaign.
Anthony will be sworn in as the Fifth Ward councilwoman at a special meeting of the City Council on Monday night.