COLUMBIA — City Council candidates Bill Pauls and Bill Tillotson received a seal of approval from the the Columbia Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
An eight-member committee was given the task of recommending candidates to the chamber’s board of directors for endorsement. Cathy Anderson, chairwoman of the chamber’s endorsement committee, said it recommended Pauls because of his record of volunteer service and his ability to commit more time to the job than the other candidates.
Pauls, who is a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist, said he would bring a level of focus and commitment to the job that may be difficult for his opponents.
"This is all I'm going to do for the next three years," Pauls said. "That's what I want to be known as. I have no other distractions."
Pauls' opponents for the April 3 election are Mike Atkinson, co-owner of The Candy Factory, and Michael Trapp, a substance abuse counselor with Phoenix Programs.
Pauls also serves on the Parks and Recreation Commission and is president of the Hunters Gate Neighborhood Association. Pauls also has volunteered with the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau but said he views a position on the council as "the ultimate volunteer experience."
While the endorsement of the chamber is important, Pauls said, he hopes to appeal to a wide array of interests.
"I want everyone to be able to come and feel like they'll have an open hearing," Pauls said.
Pauls, who said he had sore knuckles from knocking on voters' doors for the past couple of weeks, received words of advice from his wife, Kris Pauls, and from his children before running for the council.
"They said, 'Dad, the best advice if you're going to run for council is to talk less and listen more,'" Pauls said.
Tillotson is an independent adviser with Naught-Naught Agency, an insurance and financial services company. He is a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Anderson said that while the chamber appreciates the service of Sixth Ward incumbent Barbara Hoppe, the task force felt Tillotson would better promote economic growth.
Tillotson said he was honored by the endorsement, which he heard about through a phone conversation with a friend and later from the chamber itself.
“I think it’s a big endorsement,” Tillotson said. “I think it means you’re more in tune to what the city wants and not what special interests want.”
Anderson said one of the qualities the task force looked for in candidates is the ability to deal with complex financial issues. Tillotson said he is running for the council because of inadequate fiscal responsibility in the city government over the past six years.
“We have seven volunteers to manage a $450 million budget,” Tillotson said. “If that’s the type of government you’re going to have, you must make sure those seven people are capable of fiscal responsibility.”
Tillotson said he hopes the chamber endorsement will get residents of the Sixth Ward and citywide talking about his campaign.
“I think it makes the public more aware of who I am and the kind of person I am,” Tillotson said.
Friday’s endorsements continued a practice that began in 2010, when the chamber endorsed Mayor Bob McDavid, Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl and Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley.
Eight members of the chamber served on the task force. They were Anderson, Kris Bezenek, Russ Duker, Kee Groshong, Joe Newberry, Melissa Smith, Lee Terry and Scott Ward.