On Tuesday, Columbia voters will decide on a new representative for the city's First Ward, elect leadership for the Columbia Public School Board and decide on a $50 million bond issue for public schools and a $14 million bond for the Boone County Fire Protection District.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Boone County Clerk's website has information about polling place locations and a quick search to find a voter's specific site. Voters need to take some form of identification — a voter ID card, a driver's license or state-issued ID — with them to the polls.
Voters can change their address online at the Boone County Clerk website — even on Election Day.
Registration to vote can be done online on the Boone County website. However, anyone registered after March 12 will not be able to vote in Tuesday's election.
Sample ballots were sent to registered voters.
The Missourian's staff put together this guide to help you get informed about the candidates and the issues before you vote.
First Ward, Columbia City Council
Tyree Byndom has declined to campaign, citing his Baha’i religious beliefs. He's the CEO of Byndom, Stanton & Associates and is a member of Mayor Bob McDavid's Task Force on Community Violence. Before he filed for the election he hosted three talk shows on KOPN 89.5 FM. Although Byndom has declined invitations to election forums, he did appear at a City Council meeting on March 17. He told the council to consider the process of re-gentrification that he said could occur with the current developments.
Ginny Chadwick served as the campaign treasurer in 2001 for Fred Schmidt, the outgoing First Ward councilman, but says she's more progressive than Schmidt because of her concern for the community and environment. She also says she wants to be more accessible to the constituents of the First Ward. For three years, Chadwick worked part time for County Auditor June Pitchford. She was also involved in a successful petition to get the city to build speed bumps on her street for safety.
Bill Easley has been active in politics during his 20 years living in Columbia. He was a member of the now defunct Smithton Valley Neighborhood Association and is also an active participant in Grass Roots Organizing and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Easley's first priority is to increase the job market in the First Ward. He also wants to help the Columbia Police Department get along with residents better. Easley has been a vocal opponent of re-developing low-income housing into townhouses and CoMo Connect.
Write-in candidate John Clark submitted a statement that said he would serve if elected. Without it, he wouldn't be eligible even if he won the election. He previously ran for mayor in 2004 and 2007, as well as for the First Ward seat in 2008. Clark wants the city to follow Columbia Imagined more closely than it has previous city plans. He opposed a tax increment financing district for downtown infrastructure and wants a thorough and "robust" assessment of infrastructure needs.
Laura Nauser is running unopposed. She won a three-way special election contest in 2013 to serve the remainder of Helen Anthony's term. Nauser previously held the council seat, ending a term in 2011.
Columbia Public Schools Board of Education
Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Columbia School Board.
Each candidate supports expanding summer school programs, with Jonathan Sessions and Paul Cushing going further by proposing expanding the school year to prevent students from forgetting what they've learned during summer break. They also each support alternative schools and the school bond issue on Tuesday's ballot.
Cushing, Sessions and Helen Wade all support the Common Core Standards, while Joseph Toepke supports the principles but not the mechanism and time table for its implementation.
Paul Cushing was elected to the School Board in 2012 but had to step down when he temporarily relocated to Minnesota. He's lived in Columbia for 13 years and works as a software programmer for White House Custom Color. Before coming to Columbia he received a vocational degree in electromechanical engineering. Cushing's long-term goals include adding more vocational education and internships for students who may not be ready for college.
Jonathan Sessions is seeking re-election after serving on the School Board for the past four years. He attended Columbia Public Schools from elementary school through high school and received a Bachelor of Educational Studies from MU. Sessions co-owns Tech 2, a technology firm. One of his primary goals is to make sure the next budget retains current programs and follows salary schedules, while also being fiscally responsible.
Joseph Toepke works for the National Guard and has been in military service for 18 years. His wife is a teacher at Smithton Middle School, and his children have attended Columbia Public Schools. His short-term goals include offering the AVID course, which strives to close the academic achievement gap, to more children and looking at policies related to classroom behavior.
Helen Wade is seeking re-election after a three-year term on the school board. She works as a family lawyer for Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer law office. One of Wade's long-term goals is to ask school administrators to continue to evaluate curriculum and assessments. In addition to the Common Core Standards, she also supports the Missouri School Improvement Program and AVID. She also wants to increase enrollment in honors and AP courses.
$50 million school bond issue
If voters approve the school bond issue, $50 million will be allocated for Columbia Public Schools. Of that money, $28 million would go toward building a new public elementary school somewhere on the east side of Columbia. The school is designed to address overcrowding in the district, particularly Cedar Ridge Elementary School, which crams 180 students in a building meant for 100.
Also included in the bond issue is $2.73 million for additions for existing elementary schools, $4.4 million for Douglass High School renovations, $1.87 million for Rock Bridge High School athletics facilities and $12.4 million for other projects.
If approved, the debt service levy of the school district is estimated to increase by 4 cents, from 93 cents to 97 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property.
$14 million bond for the Boone County Fire Protection District
Voters living in the Boone County Fire Protection District will decide whether to approve a $14 million bond that would pay for updated equipment and stations. The bond breaks down into $7.7 million for replacing and refurbishing equipment and $6.3 million for new facilities and land.
If the bond issue passes, property taxes for those served by the Fire District would increase by approximately 25 cents per $100 of assessed value on personal property taxes. The bond could run for 20 years, and after the first 10 years, the tax rate would be reduced by 15 cents.
The mayors of Ashland and Hallsville are running unopposed for re-election.
In Ashland, Centralia, Hallsville, Rocheport and Sturgeon, voters will be electing their Board of Aldermen. In Harrisburg, Hartsburg, Huntsdale, McBaine and Pierpont, voters will elect members of the Board of Trustees for a two-year term.
Centralia voters also will be electing commissioner of the Centralia Special Road District for a three-year term.
Voters in Centralia's Missouri Municipal Library District will be voting on a proposed 25 cent tax increase.
After Tuesday's election, voters can prepare for the primary election on Aug. 5. July 9 is the registration deadline to vote in the primary.
Supervising editor is Laura Johnston.