Mike Holden, a seven-year member of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission, is strongly considering a run for the Fourth Ward Columbia City Council seat being vacated by Jim Loveless.
Holden, 36, of 602 Altai Drive, would be the second member of the Planning and Zoning Commission to enter the Fourth Ward race. Chairman Jerry Wade announced his candidacy earlier this week.
Holden is president and co-owner of Guaranty Land Title Insurance. He said serving on the City Council would allow him to continue his public service and to address a couple of issues that he thinks are key.
Holden said that before he files for council he wants to line up supporters and campaign assistance, a process he has already begun. He said he learned that lesson in an unsuccessful bid for the Sixth Ward council seat in 1997.
Even though he raised more money than his opponent, John Coffman, in that campaign, he didn’t collect it early enough in the election season to be useful.
This time around, Holden said, he wants to raise the majority of his money by the Jan. 18 filing deadline, or at least by Feb. 1.
“In the 10 years since my last run, I’ve done as much as I can to promote city government and help out whenever I can,” Holden said.
Two of Holden’s primary issues are the city’s capital improvement plan and openness in city government. He said the percentage of the city budget spent on capital improvements has significantly decreased in the past 15 or 20 years, putting the city behind on streets and other projects to accommodate Columbia’s rapid growth. In the Fourth Ward, for example, the city should be spending more money on West Broadway and Scott Boulevard, he said.
Holden also thinks city government needs to be more open to and upfront with residents.
“The city needs to do more to involve the public in understanding what the city does,” Holden said.
Holden said he is excited to be involved with the city’s visioning process; he thinks visioning is a wonderful tool for the city to use to bring the community together.
In addition to serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Holden has served two other not-for-profit organizations that benefit underprivileged youngsters and participated in the Boone County Visioning Project in 1999.
Holden said that although his voting record on the Planning and Zoning Commission might suggest to some that he favors development, he said he has actually voted “no” on some very important developments.
Meanwhile, Wade held a news conference in the lobby of the Daniel Boone City Building on Thursday morning to make his candidacy official. He said that he, too, is excited about visioning because he has experience with similar processes in other cities. He also said he wants to be involved as a council member on important decisions about growth and community development.
“The decisions we make will determine if Columbia continues to be the place where we want to live and raise our families,” Wade said.
Voters will also elect a Third Ward council person and a mayor in April. Incumbent Mayor Darwin Hindman has not indicated whether he’ll seek another term, but Third Ward Councilman Bob Hutton has said he will step aside.
Those who want to file for the council openings must pick up a petition from the city clerk’s office at the Daniel Boone City Building, 701 E. Broadway, then collect the signatures of at least 50 registered voters in their ward. Petitions must then be certified by the clerk. Those running for mayor must collect at least 75 signatures from residents citywide.