COLUMBIA — A three-way race for the First Ward seat on the Columbia City Council was developing Tuesday as two more candidates filed nominating petitions with City Clerk Sheela Amin.
Tuesday was the last day candidates could file for the council elections. Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser drew no opponents in her bid for another term.
The election is April 8.
In the First Ward, community activist and local businessman Tyree Byndom, pictured, and resident Bill Easley filed petitions Tuesday. Byndom's petition had been certified by Tuesday evening, but the clerk's office had not finished reviewing Easley's by 5 p.m.
Ginny Chadwick announced her candidacy for the First Ward seat on Nov. 25. Whoever is elected will replace incumbent First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt, who chose not to seek a second term.
Byndom, 42, wasn't immediately available for an interview. He is the CEO of Columbia-based Byndom, Stanton and Associates, a consulting firm “specializing in business development,” according to its website. He was recognized with the Columbia Values Diversity Award during the city's annual diversity breakfast last January. He also won the Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Award last year.
Byndom has served as president of the Douglass Park Neighborhood Association and still lives in that neighborhood. He hosts a weekly radio show on KOPN/89.5 FM that aims to foster discussion of community issues.
Byndom has worked with Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia, which fought against a city proposal to establish enhanced enterprise zones as a means of attracting business. He also has worked with Everyone Eats, a project of former First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton that feeds hundreds of people on Thanksgiving Day each year. He is involved with the Minority Men’s Network and Citizens for Justice.
Easley, whose birthdate on the Boone County Clerk's voter registration site is listed as January 1940, is a newcomer to the political scene. A U.S. Army veteran, he was featured in a March 2011 Missourian story about the central city food desert.
Easley did not return a call from the Missourian.
Laura Nauser, 50, who is running unopposed for the Fifth Ward, said Tuesday that she was "relieved," having been through the same process during a campaign last year to fill the unexpired term of former Councilwoman Helen Anthony.
Nauser said she's happy she won't have to spend time raising money and campaigning and instead can spend more time talking to constituents.
"I always welcome the debate with any opponents," Nauser said. She's proud, though, that the people of the Fifth Ward feel she is doing a good enough job to allow her to run without opposition.
Other First Ward residents had contemplated running, but they opted out. Duell Lauderdale, an MU graduate who launched a Facebook group “Duell Lauderdale: Leadership for the First Ward,” said on that page Tuesday that he had reconsidered “for a number of reasons.” Lauderdale did not return a call from the Missourian.
John Clark, a former candidate for the First Ward seat and for mayor of Columbia, said he was interested in running again but decided against it. He said he “put out a few feelers but nothing came back.”
Clark said he is interested in seeing how the First Ward race develops, calling it an “exciting time” in Columbia because of the opportunity for a refreshed City Council to "stand up" and make a commitment to setting policy. He said he is most concerned with the potential candidates’ practical experience and hopes this election will bring change to the council.
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