Editor's note: A quote has been corrected in this article.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Rachel Proffitt has been picked to represent Ward 2 on the Columbia City Council.
Columbia City Council members on Monday voted to appoint Proffitt as Andrea Waners' replacement.
Waner announced her resignation in October, effective Nov. 22. Waner told ABC 17 News on Oct. 2 that she is resigning because she is moving into a new home outside of Ward 2.
Proffitt -- who works at MU’s College of Health Sciences and was listed as the treasurer of Ward 1 Councilman Nick Knoth’s April campaign, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission -- was appointed with four votes by the council. Her votes include Knoth, Mayor Barbara Buffaloe, Ward 4 Councilman Nick Foster and Ward 6 Councilwoman Betsy Peters.
Ward 3 Councilman Roy Lovelady voted for Susan Renee Carter, while Ward 5 Councilman Donald Waterman voted for William Moyes. Peters initially voted for Moyes but eventually switched her vote to Proffitt after the council failed to reach a majority in their first two votes.
Waner supported Proffitt to take over her seat, but not everyone was in favor of the choice. The council allowed public comments before the vote and Columbia resident Chriss Jones used it as an opportunity to accuse the council of having back-door meetings.
"I know tonight you guys are going to vote for the person that Andrea wanted even though you shouldn't be," Jones said during the meeting.
It has been over 30 years since a Columbia City Council member has resigned. But despite the usual circumstances, the council stood behind their decision
"I've heard more than once that this was a pre-ordained decision and for the life of me it made no sense to me," Foster told ABC 17 News. "I hadn’t heard anything of that nature and there was nothing that went on that I’m aware of that would have led to the situation we reached. The vote is a good indication of that I think."
Mayor Barbara Buffaloe added that Waner deserved to have some input.
"The reason why I asked Andrea Warner what are some of the current issues and thoughts about the appointment is because she was elected by the Ward Two voters and because she was elected by the Ward Two voters I wanted to hear her opinion on what Ward Two was looking for," Buffaloe said.
Eight people filed applications to fill Waner's role.
The eight people who applied, according to an email from Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin, were:
- Susan Renee Carter
- Rachel Proffitt
- Lisa Meyer
- William Moyes
- Cornellia Williams
- Frederick Saffold
- Robert Schreiber III
- Lucio Martino Bitoy IV
Proffitt viewed the amount of people who applied for the role as a positive for the community.
"I loved that there were eight people who applied for this position including myself," Proffitt said. "It really shows that in the Second Ward people want to be engaged and they want to have their voices heard."
Buffaloe encouraged each of the council members to reach out to the eight candidates, something that Proffitt used as an opportunity to prepare herself for the role.
"I did not hear from everyone. I did hear from a few. they had fairly direct questions that I was able to answer and it seems like I did a sufficient job of answering those questions," Proffitt said. "At the end of each conversation, they asked if I had any questions for them. One question I did ask was sort of 'When you started on City Council, what was the biggest challenge for you?' Thinking about if I were to come into this position so hearing some of those words of advice was really nice. "
Proffitt acknowledged there is going to be a steep learning curb as an interim member of the council.
"For us, we have this happen every April. We have the potential of two to three new council members coming on and so really I view it as the role of the mayor to kind of help bring them up to speed," Buffaloe said.
Ward 5 Councilman Don Waterman offered a similar sentiment.
"Given the structure of the council some turnover is anticipated so there is not an additional concern," Waterman said.
Nick Foster said during the Nov. 20 council meeting that he was looking for stability in the person who took over the open seat. He believes the council has that in Proffitt .
"One of the reasons that I voted for Rachel is that I understand her to be and I've had some interactions with her, she is a capable person," Foster said.
Buffaloe also explained why she voted for Proffitt.
"At the end of the day really what I was looking for was somebody with that willingness to serve our community to listen to all voices and to work with our fellow council members and the city staff to get the work done," she said.
Now that Proffitt is a member of the council, she says one of her main focuses will be on roll carts.
"I think of the big things as we have roll carts being implemented, we get carts in March and then the trucks come through, it's a big change for a lot of people," Proffitt said. "Some of the streets in the Second Ward are older neighborhoods they don't necessarily have a sidewalk, you know where does the sidewalk end, where do you place things? There are also some hilly areas so I think that is going to be one thing that comes up for sure."
Proffitt will serve out the remainder of Waner's term which is set to end in April. She told ABC 17 that will not run in April, but may consider running three-to-six years down the road.