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Residents question candidates vying for first ward councilperson

Dozens packed the Blind Boone Center in Columbia Friday night for their opportunity to hear from the eight candidates vying for the first ward councilperson spot — and for the chance to challenge them.

After a tumultuous year with former first ward council woman Ginny Chadwick getting recalled and then resigning, residents told ABC 17 News they were eager to hear what these candidates truly planned on doing to help the first ward.

The first ward covers a large area in central Columbia — including downtown, the University of Missouri, and the mall. It’s an area known for struggling with aging infrastructure and high crime rates.

The eight candidates (John Clark, Clyde Ruffin, Rob Stewart, Sal Nuccio, Rob Rasmussin, Jake Loft, Dan Rader, and Nate Brown) took questions for more than an hour, letting residents see how they’d handle the issues most important to them.

First ward resident Verna Laboy said her biggest concern was the infrastructure.

“The first ward is the oldest and the infrastructure is old so that needs to be at the top of someone’s agenda,” Laboy said.

Resident Wilma had another concern.

“Give us some jobs, give us some opportunities for people to prove themselves,” she said. “There are people out here trying to get an education and don’t know how and we could use some help.”

Laboy also voiced her concern over the crime.

“They’ll need to be creative with the manpower and policing. Unless the money is there, we won’t be able to do it,” Laboy said. “I wish we had more community policing efforts.”

Friday’s forum was the first of three public forums for residents to get to know the candidates.

The election is April 7.

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