What was going to be a debate Friday between Mayor Darwin Hindman and his election opponent John Clark became more like a conversation after Hindman’s prostate cancer treatment prevented him from attending.
The debate, hosted by the Boone County Muleskinners, was Hindman’s second health-related absence from a public forum in two days. On Thursday, he missed a forum at the Chamber of Commerce.
Hindman’s presence was made up for by a representative, Liz Schmidt, who read a written statement clarifying the issues Hindman said he deems important to the election and to the future of the city.
Hindman’s statement said he has worked hard for the past 12 years and that his experience will be a valuable asset to the city.
“I believe that the only question in this election is one of leadership,” Hindman wrote in his statement. “Who do you want to be your leader as mayor?”
Clark said he believes that changing mayors at this time would be advantageous to the city and its success down the line. He said the city council is experienced, and that Hindman’s 12 years as mayor are not vital for the city government to succeed.
Clark had an unsuccessful run for mayor in April 2004, and he is running for mayor again because so little has changed in the past three years, he said. He asked citizens and members of the audience to elect a mayor and council that want to take back control and responsibility of the city.
In his statements, Clark focused on several key issues, including growth. He said he is in favor of increasing the number of wards and the number of council members. He also said that beyond growth, the city’s affordable housing policy and a proposal for a civilian review board are two issues he ardently supports and believes are crucial to the success of the city.
Clark went on to say that a city can change council members and get nowhere — a change of mayor is needed to attain an ideal level of effectiveness.
Hindman said in a telephone interview Saturday that he wasn’t sure what effect his absence at the forums would have, but he remained steadfast that his experience and record would play a large role in the campaign.
“I’m placing my health first, and that’s a risk I have to take,” Hindman said. “I am proud of my record.”
Both candidates are expected to attend a forum at 1:30 p.m. today at the Columbia Public Library.