***UPDATE TUESDAY 9:06 P.M.***Laura Nauser won Tuesday’s special election by 55 votes. She will reclaim the council seat for the fifth ward, vacated by Helen Anthony.Just less than twenty percent of the nearly 12,000 registered voters in Columbia’s Ward 5 turned out to vote Tuesday. Of the 2,294 votes cast, Nauser received 992 votes, Susan “Tootie” Burns received 937 votes, and Mark Jones received 365 votes. ***ORIGINAL STORY***Columbia’s City Council is still one member short of a full board, but on Tuesday that’s going to change. A special election to find a Fifth Ward Council Member will begin Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., with the polls closing at 7 p.m.Filling the extra seat with another person could make a big difference. Currently, including the mayor, there are six votes to every City Council issue. Therefore, when council votes on an issue a three-to-three outcome is possible and has recently happened.”I think there’s a big possibility depending on who is elected could determine the way the council will lean in the future,” said Fifth Ward candidate Laura Nauser.Two weeks ago, a possible six month downtown demolition delay failed after a three-to-three council split. An example of how one candidate could determine the city’s direction. So where do those running actually stand?”It is up to what I hear from my constituents and Columbia citizens, it is not necessarily what I think, but what I am hearing from them. And I will be open to listening to citizens and vote with their best interests,” said Fifth Ward candidate Tootie Burns. “We need a city council person who is not rooted in ideology, but really focused on solving problems for the people of Columbia and that’s the skill I bring to the table,” said Fifth Ward candidate Mark Jones.”I have been on the council before, if elected I can just start right back to work again and I know the process and procedures with the city,” said Nauser.Before any one person can start working on their plans, they need to be elected, a challenge especially in a special election.”There’s going to be low turnout so every vote will count and people have this right they should exercise it,” said Burns.Because single ward elections are rare, Boone County leaders don’t know how many people will vote. In typical elections, around 2,000 people vote for their ward’s council member, so that number could be a rough estimate.Boone County leaders said there are some changes to the Fifth Ward polling places; therefore anyone voting should look at their sample ballot to figure out where they need to go.
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