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Two of three candidates vying for city council attend town hall


Over 100 Columbia residents sat on pews of the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, listening to city council candidates take the mic Saturday afternoon.

The town hall, sponsored by multiple Columbia organizations lasted a little over half an hour.

Ward 1 candidate Nick Knoth and Ward 5 candidate Gregg Bush attended and took turns passing the microphone to answer questions from community members. Both hoping to win over votes for the upcoming April 4 elections.

“We're really thankful for the candidates who were able to show up. We will continue to hold them accountable to the neighborhood pledge and being accountable to the people of Columbia,” said Crystal Brigman Mahaney, the communications director for Missouri Jobs for Justice Voter Action.

But just in the past week, Saturday’s roster was shaken up. While two candidates took the mic, organizers said they were originally expecting four candidates on the stage.

Current Ward 1 Councilwoman Pat Fowler announced her campaign suspension earlier on Wednesday, hoping to focus on taking care of her mother. While Fowler did not take part in the town hall, she did attend the event.

Don Waterman, Ward 5 candidate, sent an email to organizers Friday evening around 5. Mahaney shared part of the email the team received from Waterman.

“He had shared that quote, ‘I know I have confirmed that I will attend Tomorrow's Town Hall,’” Mahaney said. “After further reflection and on receiving additional information, I have changed my mind and will not be attending. Thank you Don Waterman.’ I can't speak on Mr. Waterman's behalf. You know, we really hoped that he would've come out.”

Some community members from Ward 5 attending the event said they hoped to hear on Waterman’s stances on topics.

“I'm disappointed honestly, that the other candidate for the Fifth Ward wasn't able to be here today or didn't come today. I was here today because I thought it would be an opportunity for me to see him and ask those questions and get direct answers," said Columbia resident Rebecca Shaw.

While fielding questions from those who approached the mic, a sign with Waterman’s name hung between the other two candidates. Still, community members took the opportunity to ask questions covering public works, transit, and affordable housing.

Candidates had two minutes to respond to each question.

“But we don't ensure everybody has a seat at the table. And that is my commitment to not only everyone in this room,” Knoth said during closing remarks. “And the First Ward, which to all if I am elected, is to ensure that not only everyone has a seat at the table, but that we make progress. That we take action.”

The Local 955 with the Laborers’ International Union of North America also released their endorsements for the upcoming election. In a press release, members are endorsing Ward 5 candidate Gregg Bush and Mayor Chris Cox for reelection as mayor of Centralia.

“I'm running because I really believe in like the promise of Columbia gave me and invested in me,” Bush said. “The people around me invested in me and… that's the Columbia that I believe, that's the Columbia that I want to see expanded. That's the Columbia that I want to be attractive to other people.”

Those interested in viewing the full town hall can find it here.

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Abby Landwehr


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