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Candidates Discuss City Problems

Crime proved to be a main topic in a forum between the two candidates for Columbia mayor. Columbia mayor Bob McDavid and challenger Sid Sullivan sat at the same table in front of the Boone County Muleskinner, answering questions that included topics like crime as well as the police department.McDavid and Sullivan agree more police would help solve the crime problem. They both say it’s been a problem for years, but they need to find money to hire them. But only Sullivan offered an area to focus on. Both candidates agree there needs to be more officers on the streets.According to the most recent survey, the public viewed the police department unsatisfactory. “We really need the officer on the street we need to spend that money on additional officers so that we provide that ration of police officers per citizen,” Sullivan tells ABC 17 News.”It’s not that you have more officers driving around police cars, but you have more officers out on the street developing relationships visiting schools,” McDavid said about more police officers.McDavid says he still wants to see more of an improvement on the administrative side. He says there needs to be an organizational change from top to bottom and employee morale needs to improve.But Sullivan wants to focus mainly about putting more officers on the streets. He tells us there are areas where the police department has the money, but it’s using the money in the wrong places. “We have to find that kind of funding the police get these forfeitures monies that are coming in and they’re buying equipment rather than using that money to provide additional personnel in the city,” Sullivan explains.There was also a focus on downtown development. McDavid wants an active, lively downtown- which includes more student housing- in a big way. Sullivan is worried about the problems that would result from too much development.Much of the debate circled around the Niedermeyer building, and the idea of the city replacing it with a 16-story student housing complex downtown. The city has asked several organizations what should be done about it. McDavid says the community wants a vibrant downtown that has a lot to offer them. He wants to make it busier not for just citizens, but also students.”I do want the next 5,000 students to live close to campus no there are some areas close to campus that are not downtown but I’d prefer to have them near campus,” McDavid says.Sullivan is concerned about traffic downtown. He says before anything should be done the city needs to do several studies for things like parking, land use, and traffic. Sullivan tells us even though more business downtown would be great for the city, he doesn’t want anyone to be discouraged to go downtown.”The kind of density that we’re asking for and the cost to the city in terms of its parking, we would have to enlarge the parking, we’d have to take care of the storm water, we’d have to take care of the traffic circulation,” Sullivan says.The airport was also brought up. Both agreed it is important to the area to keep it up and get more destinations.

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