COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to hold a special election in February for the Fifth Ward council seat.
Current Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony announced at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting that she will be resigning at the end of November to join her husband in Providence, R.I. The special election will be held Feb. 5. The vote by the council for the election was unanimous.
Lobbyist Don Stamper expressed concerns about holding the election in February. Before the vote, Stamper asked if the council had the authority to call a special election while the seat was still occupied. He questioned the wisdom of recruiting and taking applicants for the position before it had been vacated and said the city would save between $15,000 and $20,000 by waiting until April to hold an election.
Anthony said she was worried that an extended vacancy would be "detrimental" to the Fifth Ward.
“I appreciate people’s sentiments asking me if I’m going to change my mind (about leaving), but I absolutely cannot,” she said.
Anthony said that although a February election would create additional costs, the Fifth Ward needs representation. She said there were zoning issues that would directly affect the ward in the months to come.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe agreed that Fifth Ward residents deserved representation as soon as they could get it, adding that campaigns didn’t typically get off the ground until shortly before the elections.
Stamper expressed his unhappiness with the vote after the meeting.
“I just don’t think it was well thought out,” he said. “I don’t know that they were thinking with the greatest level of democracy.”
Candidates for the Fifth Ward seat will have from Nov. 6 to Dec. 12 to file nomination petitions. The nominations must include 50 to 75 signatures from registered voters, according to previous Missourian reports.
Supervising editor is Karen Miller.