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Columbia city manager focuses on city’s future in State of the City address

WATCH THE REPLAY OF THE ADDRESS HERE:

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The city manager of Columbia delivered his first State of the City address on Thursday.

De'Carlon Seewood delivered remarks about various topics during the address, including what's in store for the future of Columbia. City Manager Seewood highlighted the previous year and projects that are set to start over the next few months.

One of the priorities Seewood spoke about was recruiting and retaining employees. Many city branches are looking to fill vacancies, but the police department is one that Seewood not only wants to fill but also expand.

Columbia Police Department has 25 open officer positions, one airport officer position and four support staff positions. Seewood also wants to add eight more positions.

"People are struggling to find police officers," Seewood said. "I think if we can put forth a right culture that shows officers that they're in a location where they can be respected and that they can do their jobs well, we'll see people come onto the force."

Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones said the department would like to have more officers to allow for more community engagement.

"I think we all want community policing, we want us to be less reactive, more involved in the community and building relationships and to do that we have to have people who are not responding to calls at the moment to do that," Jones said. "The issue comes is that when you have a call that involves multiple officers it draws people out of one unit to another. And the more staffing we have the less impaction that is um in a negative way."

Seewood boasted how well the Columbia economy bounced back following the pandemic. At its best, the hospitality and tourism industry was bringing in $420 million, according to the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. It's getting closer to that amount, but it took a nose dive during the pandemic.

"We've seen our tourism and hospitality industries that were so strongly impacted by the pandemic, begin to bounce back," Seewood said. "Festivals like Roots N Blues, Unbound Book Festival and True False film festival have returned to Columbia this year."

When ABC 17 News spoke to Seewood in December, he said one of his goals was to fill open positions in the I.T. and Public Works departments, as well as other leadership openings.

City leaders unanimously picked Seewood in December to replace former City Manager John Glascock after he announced his retirement. Seewood was sworn in as city manager at a city council meeting in January.

Previously, Seewood served as Columbia's deputy city manager for two years prior to his promotion. He is Columbia's first Black city manager.

Former City Manager Glascock hired Seewood as Columbia's deputy city manager in 2019. Seewood had previously served as the city manager for Ferguson, Missouri since 2015.

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Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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