COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A member of Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday became the first person to turn in a petition for election in the First Ward.
Columbia city clerk Sheela Amin said Pat Fowler turned in a petition Tuesday but the signatures on her petition had not yet been verified. City charter says candidates must have 50 valid signatures from registered voters in their ward to get on the April ballot.
First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin has told ABC 17 News that he will not seek re-election.
In addition to her advocacy of historic preservation, Fowler was a major supporter of Mayor Brian Treece during his first election and his re-election bid.
Fowler told ABC 17 News that she plans to focus on affordable housing in the city as part of her tenure. Columbia residents said affordable housing was the most critical issue facing the city in the next five years.
"We have a large group of people in our community that earn just enough to provide for their family," Fowler said. "And that means housing takes a bigger chunk of their take home pay. So let's look at how much our housing costs us, how much housing is available for people of modest means, and whether or not we're meeting that need."
Fowler said she wanted to revisit suggestions the Mayor's Task Force on Community Violence made in 2014 to address crime in the city. Three of the six homicides of Setpember 2019 happened within the First Ward. Fowler said she wants to include the families of crime victims into the conversation on how to take on the issue, as well.
"We have to all be part of the layers of support for our kids so that we slow down the murder rate in Columbia," Fowler said.
Fowler said she thought Police Chief Geoff Jones has provided the city the best opportunity to rebuild the relationship between the community and the department.
Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer has already turned in his petition, but Fowler is the first to do so in the First Ward. Pitzer first won election in 2017.
The first day to pick up petitions was Oct. 29 and the deadline to turn them in is Jan. 14. The First and Fifth wards are the only city council seats up for election in April.