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Firefighters’ union shows support for Knoth after recall election placed on April 2 ballot

First Ward Councilman Nick Knoth
City of Columbia website
First Ward Councilman Nick Knoth


The Columbia firefighters’ union gave support to embattled Ward 1 Councilman Nick Knoth after the City Council put his recall on the April 2 ballot Tuesday night.

The action was on the agenda after residents gathered enough signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The question of whether Knoth should be recalled will appear on the April 2 ballot. The deadline for the measure to get on the ballot was Jan. 23. The first read was Tuesday night, but the council expedited the process in order to make the deadline.

“Last night, the Columbia City Council approved the emergency enactment of B1-24, placing the recall of Councilmember Nick Knoth on the April ballot. The Columbia Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1055 want to make clear that we stand strong in our support of Councilmember Knoth and ask the voters of the First Ward to vote no to recall Nick in April,” a Wednesday statement from the union reads. “The effort to recall Councilmember Knoth can only be described as a vindictive, anti-Knoth campaign aimed at settling a political indifference because the organizers of this campaign could not win during the election last year. Unfortunately, in order to settle that indifference, we are witnessing an abuse of the most precious citizen rights to use the petition process for legitimate purposes”

Residents in Columbia’s First Ward started collecting signatures for the petition in October after concerns were brought up when Knoth accepted a position as the Director of Government Affairs & Regional Advocacy with the Missouri Association of REALTORS. The group of residents previously claimed Knoth’s lobbyist position is a conflict of interest.

Knoth registered as a lobbyist on Nov. 1 for the Missouri Association of REALTORS, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission. He was previously registered as a lobbyist in 2021 for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

ABC 17 News reached out to Knoth on Wednesday. He was elected in April 2023. Knoth referred to community reaction of the process during Tuesday night's meeting.

"One thing I am concerned (with), as we had kind of alluded to earlier, is what has appeared to be a lack of civility around this subject, unfortunately. Any recall is contentious, I’m not sure how it wouldn’t be, to some degree," Knoth said on Tuesday night. "But I’ve been disappointed and saddened to hear from residents, whether they’re a supporter of me that have been cyber-bullied, harassed and even intimidated because they remotely question of disagree with the recall effort. That shouldn’t happen. Everyone should be able to disagree and still be neighbors.

In December, Knoth told ABC 17 News in a text message:

“I understand that there are concerns surrounding the continuation of my professional career outside of my volunteer capacity as a councilman. It's important to reiterate that my new employment does not pose any conflict of interest with my responsibilities as a councilman, this has been confirmed by both the City's Legal Counsel as well as the Missouri Ethics Commission, and it does not affect my ability or my commitment to serving the First Ward.”

According to Article XVII, Section 136 of the city charter a recall petition must have a number of signatures that equals at least 30% of the number of votes cast for the First Ward election. There were 1,120 votes cast which means the petition needed 336 signatures. 

The city charter also states, "When a sufficient recall petition has been filed, the city clerk shall submit the same to the council without delay, and the council shall call an election on said recall at the next election provided for by state law which is consistent with applicable notice provisions and available for municipal elections purposes."

Former Mayor Brian Treece also worked as a lobbyist while in office.

Check back for updates to this story.

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Ryan Shiner


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