COLUMBIA—Fred Schmidt will get his chance to deal with even more bonds.
This time as a member of the Columbia City Council.
First Ward voters elected Fred Schmidt as their representative on the Columbia City Council in the municipal election on Tuesday. Schmidt won by a large margin, collecting 600 of 999 ballots cast for the First Ward race.
"I just had a really good feeling today, I did errands and work that took me all over the ward," Schmidt said as the final results were coming in. "It's a beautiful day."
Mitch Richards finished second-highest among the four candidates with 235, just more than 23 percent.
Richards congratulated Schmidt on a quality campaign and said he will revert to the role he relinquished when he filed his candidacy: Treasurer of Keep Columbia Free, a civil liberties group initially formed to oppose downtown cameras.
"I feel more empowered than I ever have," Richards said. "I'm going to keep raising hell."
Schmidt will bring his financial expertise as an accountant to the council after defeating vying candidates Richards, Pam Forbes and Darrell Foster. Forbes garnered only 115 votes and Foster only 49.
True to form, Schmidt said he will immediately start crunching numbers.
"The first thing I'm going to look at is the budget," he said. "We've got to get on top of the numbers and see where we're at."
He also said he will begin to improve police and community relations, something he and other candidates spoke about at length during forums.
MU administrative assistant and First Ward community activist Pat Kelley said Schmidt’s financial experience will be an asset to the council, but is concerned he would be too focused on the city as a whole rather than specifically the First Ward.
“I think he has the accounting background and he probably would do really well in the work of the council, distributing the budget,” she said. “The thing I worry about is that he tends to say the First Ward is for everyone and I’m not sure he would be as assertive as I might want to see a First Ward councilperson to be.”
Longtime activist and two-time mayoral candidate John Clark said it would be intellectually dishonest to believe any councilperson could represent all of the constituents.
“I don’t think a councilperson could adequately represent the First Ward,” he said. “That’s not disrespect to the people who are running whatsoever. The wards are too large and heterogeneous, and the person who gets elected is in a real bind.”
Schmidt, though, remains optimistic.
"I think it is possible to do well for everybody," he said. "There are always competing interests, but I think we can manage."
Schmidt won his bid for the First Ward seat being vacated by Paul Sturtz and ran the most expensive campaign in the ward, spending $5,769.37 for the reporting period that ended March 24.
Schmidt will be sworn in as the First Ward councilman at a special meeting of the City Council on Monday.