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Bill Tillotson stresses growth and job creation in Sixth Ward campaign kickoff

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | 9:22 p.m. CST; updated 10:31 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Bill Tillotson held a campaign kick-off event Wednesday evening Feb. 1, at Sky Hi Grill for the Sixth Ward seat on the City Council. This is his first time running for the position.

COLUMBIA — Sixth Ward City Council candidate Bill Tillotson stood before supporters Wednesday night at Sky HiBar & Grill and outlined his vision for the city's future.

"Columbia is going to grow, regardless of what we want, so we've got to make sure Columbia grows the right way and that we have jobs and economic opportunity for our children," Tillotson said.

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Tillotson will be on the April 3 ballot for the Sixth Ward council seat against incumbent Barbara Hoppe. Tillotson, who's lived in Columbia for 41 years, has been a member of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission since 2010 and is an independent certified senior adviser with Naught-Naught Agency an insurance and financial services company. Those experiences have led Tillotson to advocate making local government more accessible and user-friendly.

In an interview Tuesday before the campaign kickoff event, Tillotson said he's seen progress in Columbia's development process during his time on the commission, but that work still needs to be done.

"We need to have tools in place that let (businesses) know where they can build, and when they come to Planning and Zoning they can be sure they've done all their due diligence," Tillotson said.

Dennis Smith, a retired insurance company executive and Sixth Ward resident, said the Tillotson would oversee the efficient growth of Columbia.

"He's all about doing it the right way," Smith said.

Jim Volmert, another Sixth Ward resident, agreed. He said the fresh ideas Tillotson would bring to the council are necessary for the city to prioritize economic development in the future.

"You need to keep a business-friendly atmosphere," Volmert said. 

Tillotson said he hopes steps toward a more user-friendly planning code will lead to more developer interest in Columbia, which he said translates to more jobs for the entire population, including the significant portion made up by students.

"Our whole livelihood (in Columbia) is based on the student-body population," Tillotson said Tuesday. "That's what makes everything click."

To pull this segment of the population into political discussion, Tillotson said he plans to propose advisory committees composed of students that would be similar in nature to homeowners' and neighborhood associations. Tillotson said he'd already spoken with several student groups and cites safety in the Sixth Ward as one of their major concerns.

Caleb Rowden, a resident of the Third Ward and a Republican candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives in the 44th District, said he has donated his time to help Tillotson's social media campaign and that Tillotson is dedicated to collecting the input of students.

"He has a big passion for not talking about college students, but talking to them," Rowden said.

Wednesday's campaign event was the first for Tillotson in his race against Hoppe, who has been elected to the Sixth Ward seat twice — first in 2006 and again in 2009. The margin of victory in her re-election bid was less than half of that in her first bid.

Doug Iles, an independent electric contractor, said he's not a Sixth Ward resident but wanted to show his support for Tillotson. He said he was wary of Hoppe's record on economic growth and that he approved of Tillotson's plan to promote development.

"You can't have zero growth, because if you do, you die," Iles said.

Tillotson said Tuesday he would be reaching out to voters in the next few weeks through meet-and-greets to get their opinions on the major issues facing the Sixth Ward and Columbia as a whole.

On Wednesday, Tillotson weaved through a name-tagged group of supporters, shaking hands and discussing campaign specifics and his plans for Columbia's future. Despite the celebratory atmosphere, Tillotson acknowledged the difficulty of the campaign ahead.

"We've got a big campaign ahead of us," Tillotson said to the crowd. "We're going to hit the ground hard. We're going to run hard."

Tillotson and Hoppe will both participate in a candidate forum hosted by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Walton Building, 300 S. Providence Road. Second Ward candidates have also been invited to attend.


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Comments

robert link February 2, 2012 | 11:22 a.m.

I hope that Mr Tillotson can rid us of HIPPY HOPPE.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders February 2, 2012 | 3:26 p.m.

Well, he owns a flag lapel, so he's obviously qualified to run others' lives for them.

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 2, 2012 | 3:41 p.m.

"Well, he owns a flag lapel, so he's obviously qualified to run others' lives for them."

OMG, Richard, do you think that might mean Tillotson is a Patriotic American? All we liberals agree, those are the worst kind!

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan February 2, 2012 | 6:48 p.m.

"Hippy Hoppe?"
Is that how Mr. Tillotson plans to address the issues--by calling people names?
Or is that just his followers?

(Report Comment)
robert link February 2, 2012 | 9:41 p.m.

No Dan, that was the name calling I used when she used NIMBY to change the plan of trails that would have been in her backyard. Back when her opponent, Rod, didn't have enough supporters to win the election 3 years ago. I will support Bill's plan, but the name she has earned, in my view.

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan February 3, 2012 | 1:08 p.m.

My recollections of the rejected trail plan is of a "destination" trailhead where people would park their cars--pretty heavy use for that neighborhood--and of the current plan is a lower-impact project.
I understand the concept of NIMBY.
But I don't get the "hippy" connection.

(Report Comment)

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