Mayoral candidates Randy Minchew and Barbara Buffaloe discussed Friday how they plan to bring the Columbia City Council together if elected by voters.

The comments by Minchew and Buffaloe came during questions over Zoom. Members of the Muleskinners asked the candidates about the issues they plan to address as the next mayor.

Although their ideas and plans for the city are similar in many cases, each candidate stressed how their varied experiences with city government would inform their decision-making.

Buffaloe’s main points as to why she is the best choice as mayor focused on her years of experience in city government. Previously, she worked as the city’s sustainability manager, and she argued that her experience in that position makes her familiar with many of the city’s practices involving transit and trash.

This is Minchew’s third time running for public office, and he has been involved with various business operations and philanthropies in Columbia. Minchew said he believes that his openness to outsourcing things like trash collection and working with staff members within city government to solve issues make him a strong candidate.

One speaker pointed out that though the mayor is only one vote out of seven, he or she has the advantage of being a leader on the City Council, and they asked how the candidates planned to bring council members to a consensus.

Minchew said he wants to employ diplomacy when trying to get council members to work together. He said his experience raising seven kids has prepared him to tackle tough issues and make sure people have what they need to succeed.

Buffaloe said she would want the city staff to go on a retreat. During the retreat, they could discuss their priorities for certain issues and get to better know where some members are coming from with their ideas.

“This idea of a retreat where you highlight the priorities of each council member, as well as the department directors, like what’s coming up on the agenda that we need to be aware of ... where are you coming from on this?” Buffaloe said.

Buffaloe also said she would want to have more work sessions where council members can work together to solve issues facing Columbia.

Lack of transparency and city management issues were also discussed. Both candidates agreed new City Manager De’Carlon Seewood is the best candidate for the job but that, because of the secret process used by the council during the job search, he faces an uphill battle.

“I think all of us have been critical of the city manager search, not because of who they picked, but because it’s set up,” Buffaloe said.

Minchew echoed Buffaloe’s statement. He also said that people should never trust the government, but rather look to hold the government accountable.

“To me, trust is not the goal. It’s transparency and getting those people engaged,” he said.

  • Undergraduate student studying print and digital journalism. Reporting for the Missouri News Network, funded by the Stanton Foundation, examining the impact of state government on Missouri residents. Reach me at bcm7fc@umsystem.edu

  • Fred Anklam manages city and county government reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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