Chamber of Commerce endorsements same as 2010 mayoral, council elections

Monday, March 18, 2013 | 3:54 p.m. CDT; updated 7:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 18, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Chamber of Commerce board of directors has endorsed Mayor Bob McDavid, Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl and Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley in their re-election bids.

The chamber nominated the same candidates in 2010. All are incumbents seeking second terms in the April 2 election.

McDavid was pleased with the endorsement. He's worked with the chamber in his time as mayor.

"I've been in office for three years, and I've worked closely with the chamber on such projects as the airport initiative."

Fourth Ward candidate Bill Weitkemper said that he wasn't surprised by the endorsement choices and that he hopes the endorsements won't affect his campaign. 

"I had expected that's the way it would go," he said. "I hope it doesn't carry any weight."

Kespohl called the endorsement a "badge of honor." He said the chamber must be pleased with the work he's done in his time on the council.

"One big thing that I did was the refinancing of the bonds, it saved the tax payers $17 million," he said.

The endorsements were made based on the recommendations of the chamber's Endorsement Task Force. The task force selected its favorite candidates based on their answers to written questionnaires, the answers they gave at a chamber-hosted candidate forum and research gathered through local media and other sources, according to a chamber news release.

Key criteria for the endorsements were the candidate's commitment to economic growth, a willingness to deal with complex financial issues and an ability to listen to all opinions and beliefs.

McDavid sees the endorsement as approval of his work to bring jobs to town.

"The chamber is interested in jobs. Citizens are interested in jobs," McDavid said. "One of the things I do as mayor is meet with manufacturers and business that will provide those jobs."

Mayoral candidate Sid Sullivan, who also ran against McDavid in the 2010 race, said that the endorsements did not surprise him. 

"I really don't think the chamber should be involved in endorsements," he said. "What's good for Columbia is good for the chamber, not what's good for the chamber is good for Columbia."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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