As an ecologist, an avid bicyclist and a mother of two children, 44-year-old Esther Stroh has long been a big fan of Mayor Darwin Hindman.
“I love Hindman, always have,” said Stroh, who has lived in Columbia for eight years. “The thing about Hindman is that even the people that don’t agree with him still like him.”
The mayor’s attention to environmental issues and community involvement are two things Stroh said she enjoys about the mayor.
“Darwin is always out and about in the community,” she said. “And he’s been great with the parks and all of the green spaces.”
Stroh’s praise of Hindman made her vote all the more surprising.
“I voted for Clark,” she said after casting her ballot at Campus Lutheran Church at around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. “This is my message to Darwin: The city totally tanked on the Philips decision.”
Stroh was referring to the Columbia City Council’s recent approval of an annexation and zoning request that will accommodate one of the largest developments in Boone County history: a mix of residential, commercial and office uses that will span much of the 489-acre Philips farm on the new southeastern edge of town.
Although Stroh attended none of the city’s public hearings regarding the Philips proposal, she said that she kept up with the issue by reading the paper.
“Brian Ash, my councilman, was the only one who voted against the decision,” Stroh said.
“They just really messed up on this one.”
— Sara Semelka
Georgia Morehouse was wearing a bright-orange walking vest as she finished a morning stroll with her husband, Lawrence, then crossed from her home on Danforth Drive to cast a ballot at Shepard Boulevard Elementary School.
Morehouse and her husband have lived on the same Columbia corner for 41 years. They raised two children there and watched as they grew up through elementary school then up the academic ladder.
As her children grew, so did the city surrounding her family. Morehouse said the pace of Columbia’s growth, especially over the past 10 years, has been “amazing.”
Morehouse supported incumbent Darwin Hindman for mayor, saying she can count on him to take action on important issues including the health of the city and residents. Morehouse is secretary of the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness.
“I have called upon him to do things while I was in a position to do so,” she said. “He is always so willing, so gracious, so enthusiastic.”
Morehouse also counts Hindman’s support for the arts and the environment as important reasons for her support.
“He’s a go-to-guy,” she said, “He gets the job done.”
— Megan M. Retka
Peggy Gustafson, 36, came to Columbia Public Library on Tuesday morning knowing how she was going to vote.
“The mayoral race was kind of an easy one just because I know Mayor Hindman, and I’ve dealt with him,” Gustafson said. “So ... it’s important to me that he wins again. I think that he’s done just a tremendous job.”
Gustafson said personality was one reason she chose Hindman over challengers John Clark and Arch Brooks.
“I like (Clark’s) stance on a lot of issues. I just don’t know about his effectiveness, you know,” Gustafson said. “I think it takes a certain personality to be a politician. ... I know that Darwin has that. I think he’s really good at listening to everybody and ... standing up for what he believes in.”
In the school board race, Gustafson voted for incumbents Karla DeSpain and Chuck Headley. And, after researching where money from the district’s $22.5 million bond issue would go, she voted in favor of it.
Still, she said, it “hurts every time they raise the taxes.”
Gustafson also cast a ballot for unopposed Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Loveless.
Although she thinks Loveless is a fine councilman, “I do think it’s a shame if somebody runs uncontested,” she said.
— Anna Sharp
After two uncontested races for mayor, Darwin Hindman finally faced opposition in Tuesday’s election. That was welcome news for Catherine Parke.
John “Clark brings up important issues,” said Parke, who has lived here 30 years and cast her ballot at Columbia Public Library. “But ... I think we’re in a point in Columbia’s history that’s so crucial, particularly that Philips tract issue and the Wal-Mart issue, where things could just really unravel — and I think Hindman has a good solid record.”
Parke said Hindman’s experience ultimately won her vote.
“I haven’t agreed with every decision that has come through the City Council and mayor’s office,” she said, “but I think on balance there’s a good history of working on behalf of all of Columbia.”
Parke, who teaches English and women’s studies at MU, said the school district’s bond issue was also crucial.
“You’ve got to hire teachers, you’ve got to keep good teachers and put roofs on buildings,” she said. “Maybe they’re not your kids, but they’re the kids that are going to be here when we’re dead.
“Bottom line: You’ve got to educate them and educate them well.”
— Dana Smith
Three-year-old Audrey Roloff came to the polls early Tuesday morning with her father, David Roloff.
The elder Roloff, 47, has lived in Columbia since 1974. He said that he cast his votes with his daughter in mind and that he thinks Darwin Hindman’s ideology on the environment and growth is best for the future. Roloff said he thinks Hindman’s knowledge of planning will help preserve the small-town atmosphere in Columbia, even as the city continues to grow.
“Not that I think he’s in trouble of being re-elected,” Roloff said, “but I just wanted to make sure that, you know, the people of Columbia really appreciate what he’s done.”
Roloff, who is director of membership for the MU Alumni Association, said it wasn’t difficult to vote in favor of the school district’s bond issue, which seeks millions of dollars to improve and repair Columbia’s public schools.
“My wife and I want to make sure that’s passed because obviously, you know, we have a concern there,” he said.
— Dana Smith
Coming out of West Boulevard Elementary School with her husband, Herbert, Betty Brown said she picked incumbent Darwin Hindman when voting for mayor.
She’d read up on challengers Arch Brooks and John Clark, and while she thought they made interesting points, she went with experience in the end.
“I just hope whoever’s in government now will help this town so it develops in the proper way,” the 40-year Columbia resident said. “It’s a time when we’re just exploding in here in Columbia, and we need somebody at the helm who understands what to do.”
A former employee of the Columbia Public School District, Brown said she didn’t want to share her choices in the race for the Columbia Board of Education. She did favor the $22.5 million bond issue for the district.
“Our son and daughter were educated here,” she said. “They’re gone, but we wanted to help other people in the school system.”
— Christie Smythe