Incumbent Mayor Darwin Hindman and challengers John G. Clark and Arch Brooks sounded off against each other Friday at the Boone County Muleskinners meeting. Issues that will play a large role in the upcoming election, based on the Democratic club’s forum at Stephens College, are police-community relations, city growth, the Philips tract and unemployment. Each candidate had a chance to critique or praise city government and to share their opinions on each issue and ideas for future change.
Candidates differ on Columbia's challenges
Asked what the “biggest challenge” facing city government is now, each candidate had a different response.
Hindman said growth. “Infrastructure, schools, attractiveness. We’ve got to take care of that as the city grows.”
Brooks said employment. “I see the greatest challenge as getting jobs into Columbia,” he said, adding the city should especially work to lure textiles and other manufacturing jobs.
Clark said changing the city council from a micro-managing to a policy-making body is most important.
Candidates discuss changes to police
He also supports more emphasis on community policing, a strategy in which police are assigned to specific neighborhoods, often ride bicycles and strive to become more involved with the people on their beats.
“That kind of policing tends to be labor-intensive,” Clark said. “It’s not about solving crimes; it’s that they never happen.”
Brooks said one problem with the police department now is that citizens have no input.
“To continue to let the police police themselves is as crazy as inmates running the asylum,” Brooks said.
Hindman didn’t share those feelings. “In most cases, policing is very good,” he said. “We have a very good police chief.”
Muleskinners who talked with the Missourian supported Hindman. Rene Powell, a resident of Paquin Towers, said she has “a lot of concerns with Clark on community policing. There’s a lot of problems with that.”
Powell said that since police began patrolling her building, some residents have come to rely too much on the officers to resolve ordinary disputes between tenants.
First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton disagreed with the mayor’s position on policing, saying Hindman is “too far removed” to understand the situation. “I’m not supporting anyone,” she said when asked about her preference.
Duane Dimmit, a Democratic candidate for 25th District state representative, has made no decision. He wants to attend more forums before he picks a candidate.
“I’d like to hear how each candidate would maintain upstream and downstream communication between city and community,” he said.
Larry McBee said that although the other candidates made salient points about the city manager having too much control and the need for the mayor and council to exert more influence over decisions, he still plans to support Hindman.
“I think he’s done an extremely good job in the direction he’s taken the city,” he said. “I think he’s done a good job with growth.”
Steve Wyse said that while he isn’t completely happy with some city officials’ decisions, he will continue to support Hindman.
“He’s been a consistently good mayor,” he said.
Carolyn Leuthold has met with John Clark but plans to support Hindman. “I’ve made my choice,” Luethold said. “You have to make a choice.”