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DAVID ROSMAN: Local elections are microcosm of our larger concerns

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:55 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's that time of year. On Tuesday, we will be voting for a number of local issues and candidates. I live in the Columbia School District and the First Ward. I get to vote on the Columbia Public School Board members, county issues and school bond and tax issues. That does not mean I don't have opinions on the other local races, especially the Sixth Ward.

Three of the four school board candidates debated Friday, and I was impressed with two. Christine King, Rex Cone and Mel Blase were present. Paul Cushing had a conflict and could not attend.

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Blase fell off my radar when he showed a lack of knowledge of the Columbia high schools and their purpose, as did Cushing. Cushing not making this meeting did not bode well.

I talked with Cone for a bit, and, though impressed, he does not have well-defined issues and spent too much time praising King. Of course, King is the current vice president of the board and has performed admirably since day one. I will be casting my vote for her.

Columbia Public Schools has two debt issue questions on the ballot, and both require property tax increases. Both are needed for the district to accommodate its growing population of students and to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Question No. 1 is asking for the issuance of $50 million in bonds with the funds directed toward maintenance and construction of new buildings. There is an immediate need for a new elementary school in south Columbia, updates to the kitchen at Lange Middle School, roof and foundation repairs and tuckpointing and fire sprinkler upgrades.

Question No. 2 is designed to replace about 40 percent of Columbia Public Schools' loss of state funding.

Approving both will increase our property taxes by a whopping 5.2 cents per $1,000 of value. Not a bad deal for our public school system. However, if your argument is that the school system is failing, I strongly disagree. If you argue that our legislators have failed our school systems and Missouri's future, you have an ally. Yes to both questions.

It is unfortunate that I teach in the evenings and have been unable to get to the City Council debates. Nevertheless, I still wanted to know the candidates.

I have been playing "telephone and email" tag with the Second Ward candidates. I was able to talk to Michael Atkinson, have heard very good opinions about Michael Trapp, spent time reading Bill Pauls' Facebook page and researched articles in both local newspapers. Pauls might be just a bit too conservative for Columbia right now, stacking the council to the far right. This city needs a balanced council, and I believe that either of the Michaels would be the best pick for the city. Your choice.

Now to the Sixth Ward. Barbara Hoppe and Bill Tillotson are known entities. The deciding factor here is something we are witnessing on the local, state and national levels, including the GOP primary race. Unfortunately, we will continue to see it continue through November in federal, state and local elections: extreme negative campaigning.

This very tired tactic now does something else voters do not like. Watching Tillotson's ads and visiting his website only support my suspicions. We know what Tillotson thinks of Hoppe from his radio advertisements. Read Hoppe's press release response to Tillotson's allegations on her website. But negative advertising is not the major problem.

Columbia residents have no idea what Tillotson stands for, what issues he wishes to tackle or what his plans are for the future of Columbia. He only complains and blames.

There are two "Rosman Rules" which need to be met: the Dead Man Rule and the Fly on the Wall Rule. Simply put, if a dead man can do it, it is not a change. If the fly on the wall sees nothing happening, there is no change. Tillotson fails both.

Hoppe must win your vote and remain on the council.

Our local elections are a microcosm of our larger concerns. How you vote on Tuesday might very well be a strong indicator of the November elections.

One more thing: If you don't vote, you can’t complain.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.


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