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City Council candidates discuss city, ward priorities

Friday, March 29, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missourian reporters asked candidates for the Columbia City Council nine standardized questions about city government issues. Here are their verbatim answers to a question about city and ward priorities beyond those that were addressed in previous questions. 

What other issues do you believe should be a priority for the City Council over the next three years?

Mayoral candidates

Bob McDavid: "Well, the priorities listed by the citizens in a recent survey are infrastructure, roads, right? And police and crime — police protection, fire and crime prevention. And the third is economic improvement. We spend a lot of time recruiting companies, meeting companies. I’m meeting with some Chinese — a Chinese delegation — next week. We’re working with existing companies. We may have some good news with an existing company in the near future. We’ve opened up, through a lot of work, a company called Beyond Meat. IBM obviously is a success. So this requires good old-fashioned recruitment and good old-fashioned sales. Fortunately, we have a great community to sell. We have a work force that’s young because of our university, college presence, so — and the electric atmosphere — the whole community helps make this sale. But this requires work, and it requires a sales drive, and that’s one of the important things that the mayor has to do. You know, I didn’t realize this when I got into it, but I guess now I’m in sales."

Sid Sullivan: "Well, two issues: One is just the creation of policies in terms of how we're making decisions in the City Council, so the policies essentially are explaining why we passed this ordinance or what's behind this ordinance. So we inform the city manager and all the department heads of how they should interpret the city ordinances. Secondly, in terms of local jobs, we have a lot of people that are Columbia residents that don't have work or adequate work. And we need, rather than looking at REDI to provide new businesses to come into Columbia, I would really look for an advisory committee to help with finding opportunities for our youth that are entering the job market, to get them ready and to find appropriate jobs for our youth that are entering the job market."

What ward-specific issues would you make a priority if you are elected to the council?

Third Ward candidates

Karl Skala: "Well, I’m running for Ward Three, and I see neglect generally in Ward Three as a huge issue, and that’s the feedback that I’ve been getting when I’ve been canvassing door to door. In particular, the most pressing need, I think, are two roads in particular. One is obviously Clark Lane, the Ballenger corridor, and the other is St. Charles Road. When you think about those roads, in 2005 those were both on the CIP plan, and they were scheduled to be funded, but there were other issues that intruded on that, and eventually they were removed from the CIP plan because the public did not support the extent of that plan. And those projects were removed to eventually wind up within some other areas, and it’s typical, I think, of the neglect that sometimes the Third Ward sees relative to some of the more affluent wards, like the Fourth or Fifth Ward, in particular. Stewart Road is a good example of that. So, I see those two road systems, in terms of road infrastructure, Ballenger Lane and Clark Lane corridor and the St. Charles Road corridor are very important, particularly since the new high school is out in this area. It really is going to be a growth driver in the northeast."

Gary Kespohl: "Well in the Third Ward, I'd make it a priority ... we have some some infrastructure problems. It was inherited when the 1968 annexation took place. A lot of the streets in the very far northeast were in the county at the time, and there was no design standard for roads and highways. None of them have curb and gutter. None of them have sidewalks. They are all very narrow streets. You can barely pass two cars beside one another on some of those streets. That needs to be taken on as a high priority and taken care of to bring them up to city standard. The infrastructure out there's old because the builders put it in, and a lot of it wasn't put in very well, the sewer system and the water lines and so forth. So all those things need attention in the Third Ward."

Fourth Ward candidates

Daryl Dudley: "In the Fourth Ward, I want to connect Scott Boulevard to I-70. I want to work on getting a school in the southwestern part of the city, Fourth Ward or Fifth Ward, and get Bonnie View park up and running. And basically that's about it. There's not a whole lot of big things in the Fourth Ward coming up. ... Just making sure that the citizens are happy and that they are getting what they want. Listen to them as I've listened to them over the last three years, and keep going forward. There isn't a lot in the Fourth Ward going on right now. ... West Boulevard, and also, fixing Broadway in the Old Southwest. Getting the infrastructure, the sewer systems and the private common collectors and all that up to date so that we've got current and new infrastructure. West Boulevard needs to be taken care of, and Broadway."

Ian Thomas: "Well, one ward-specific issue that has come up frequently in my many hundreds of doorstep conversations recently is West Broadway. And even though there was a major report five or six years ago recommending that there’s no need to widen West Broadway, between Clinkscales and Aldeah, which is currently one lane each way, the discussion of widening it to two lanes each way has continued, and residents of the area feel that there’s still a great threat that the city will want to do this. I don’t believe it’s necessary. It ties into my thoughts of traffic demand management and vehicle-miles-traveled reductions. I want to bring those tools into the transportation, you know, planning tool kit, and I firmly believe that we can keep the traffic congestion under control to such a level that there’s no need to do that road widening."

Bill Weitkemper: "Infrastructure improvements. We need to improve water lines, sewer lines, stormwater sewage lines. There’s erosion problems in the Fourth Ward. There’s a lot of private sewers in the older part of the Fourth Ward. And I think we’ve had a record number of water line breaks in the last two years, so infrastructure improvements would be probably a priority."

Missourian reporters Hannah Cushman, Elizabeth Pearl, Tony Puricelli, Madeline O'Leary, Chris Jasper, Allison Prang and Nuria Mathog contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

To hear audio clips from the candidates, go to the Missourian's local government blog, The Watchword.



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