COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Randy Minchew is not new to city politics.
The businessman ran for Columbia City Council in 2015 before dropping out and supporting another candidate. Minchew hopes to bring a more fiscally conservative approach to city government, promising on his campaign website to fight the "mission creep" that is draining city coffers.
Family: Wife, Cindy Minchew; children Susan Yoder, Samantha Dent, Clay Minchew, Cassie Minchew, and Kayley Huble; six grandchildren.
Education: High school diploma
Occupation: Business owner; COO of DeLine Holdings, LLC
Previous political experience: 2015 city council candidacy
What do you think of the city’s new trash pickup procedures?
Well, I think that it smacks of too much government, for me, too much government involvement in our daily life. Obviously, once a week, we want to have our trash picked up. I think we're gonna end up with some unintended consequences. And I think we're seeing it now, with trash being put in places where it shouldn't be. Trash is being left at the recycle sites around town.
And so I'm afraid that this, this idea was not thought out the way it maybe should have been, or could have been. I hate to second-guess our current city council, but when the idea was first proposed, and I heard about it, I said, this is a bad idea. We're a city, we're a municipality, and now we're in the logo bag manufacturing business. You already get enough grief as a city. for things that are done, even if they're done well, 50% of the people don't like them. This bag thing seems to even have less percentage of approval from the citizens so far.
Would you support using roll carts?
So I personally would love to see the roll carts at my house. I have a flat driveway, I have a place to store them. So personally, I love the roll cars.
For a city, I think there's some, I call it that pick how you throw idea, instead of pay as you throw. So the pick how you throw would be, you could pick one of three sizes of roll carts. ... I had a person send me an email -- they have a long, skinny gravel driveway. And if you put the trash can out there, they literally couldn't get out of their driveway. There are going to be some situations where it's just not going to work, we're gonna have to come up with other solutions. Those would be small, maybe less than 10%. Somebody's gonna have a really steep driveway.
So I'm not saying we impose the city's will on the citizens, kind of like we did with the trash bags. I'm not saying that we do that. I'm saying, let's look at it. Let's examine, tell me which neighborhoods, which streets, which houses would have these issues. And let's come up with an alternate solution for that. In general, though, and I don't know what percentage, 75%, 85% of the people, I think roll carts would serve them well, and it's done in so many major cities. It's not like we're inventing that -- we're not taking on a system that's not proven. It's already been proven. It has its issues. It has its issues without a doubt.
But trash pickup, trash collection, the solid waste department, none of that's glamorous. None of it's easy. We're throwing away our waste, we stick it out on the corner, there's no really good way to do it. There are some ways that might be better than others. And I believe the roll carts might be that way.
What is Columbia’s greatest infrastructure need?
Well, I think it depends on who you ask. I've talked to people who are frustrated because there's no lines on the street. I've talked to people who, like me, there's potholes near the entrance to my neighborhood. Unfortunately, it's Stadium Boulevard, so when I asked the city about it, well, it's a state problem. So, you know, for me the infrastructure issues that I see that are going to be really tough to solve, sewer, our street surfaces, it appears to me that we're not keeping up because as the city grows ... you're going to see sprawl, if you will, that'll slow down in a lesser economy.
But as those neighborhoods are added, the developers put in sewer and they put the street in at their cost. And then that cost is passed on in the lot price when they sell the plot to build new homes. The city then takes over the maintenance and upkeep of those sewer lines, of the street surfaces. We're struggling a little bit to keep up with our surface maintenance now. And yet we take on these new streets as we annex things in. So to me, I feel like it's no reflection on the work that our crews do. I believe we probably do decent work, although I haven't evaluated that completely and because I'm just a citizen, I think we're falling behind on that.
Do you agree with city leaders’ approach to the coronavirus pandemic?
I know (city/county health director) Stephanie Browning has been second-guessed on every turn. And, you know, God bless her for that position. And I'm not a physician, nor is most of the citizens of Columbia. So I'm not second-guessing anyone on their professional opinion, their medical opinion on the virus, on what the issues are with the virus because I had no idea. And no one wants to hear my opinion anyway, because that's not what I've ever done in my life. I think though science is about data, science is moving, it's not a set thing.
And so, as we've learned, just like recently, I heard there's a big study out that 3 foot is all you need for social distancing, not 6 feet. And so we picked 6 feet, someone did, not Stephanie Browning, but someone nationally picked 6 feet. But we've spent a year. And as data comes in, as you study the statistics, I feel like we could have been a little more pliable. And so I had offered up an idea which the feedback I got was, well, that's not simple. But that's okay. I don't know why it would have to be simple. But it was the small business COVID metric. And so you would take the hospitalization rate, the positivity rate, and the vaccination rate, and create a number, just like you would for smog, if you're in a large city, they have a smog number. And so when that rating gets to a certain point, you take extra precautions, because you know, the smog would be dangerous.
So create some kind of a number, some metrics, so that we could all see, we're either heading down or heading out. And as we're heading down, then we could encourage each other. Hey, you know, let's make sure we all wear masks, let's do whatever we know to be proven to help stop the transmission of the virus. That wasn't done. And so we wait sort of each month when the health director is going to come and stand in front of the podium, and everybody's going to be there. And they're going to let us know how much freedom we get back. That's the way it feels. I know that's not what they intend. But the way it the way it's received.
I don't think there's an awareness, that it's not coming across that the citizens feel, sort of rebellious about that. And so you've got to be mindful of that. Now, the fact is, that same group of people that sounds like I'm second-guessing, have also kept us safe. And our community fared well. Maybe better than some others. But I still think there's a user experience that has to be examined. And ... if I was going to second-guess anything that's what I would examine, is how the citizens have received this and the awareness of the health department and the current city council and the mayor on how the city is receiving it.
Has police community outreach worked?
Well, community policing is a great idea. And that's the way you do it. That is to me, that is the way, that is what has to happen. Because I don't see any reason not to do it. The last thing you want is people driving by with sirens on their car and you don't know who they are. If you're in a community where crime might be an issue, you would want to know who those officers are.
And so if you go to a large city, they have substations all over. I grew up in Houston, Texas, there are substations everywhere around Houston. When I was a child, I knew the policemen in my neighborhood. Now, some of that was because I was curious, some of it was because I got into trouble. But I think our police have got to be involved in our community. They've got to be involved in our high schools. I don't see what trouble it would cause -- I don't see why you wouldn't do that.
And so I have not studied the outcomes locally, because that data is not available to me as a citizen. It will be as a city councilperson. It's definitely an area of interest. ... Public Safety is a responsibility of the city council. That's part of our job. So you know, we're short a fire station for Ward 6, we don't have a fire station to the east, for the Vineyards for the Brooks and for Old Hawthorne. And so there's public safety concerns that I think need to be examined. I'm sure they are, so I'm not dogging anybody who's on the current city council. I'm just, I don't see the outcome. And so I would like to see that more.
And as far as police go, we're short. On the staff. We are short. And so it takes five police officers to fill a shift. If you count vacations, if you count days off, it takes five police officers to fill a shift. It takes a lot of police officers, if you think about all of the shifts and all of the locations around Columbia. And so who gets overlooked? If you don't have police officers for those shifts? Where do you not put the police officer? Which community? Do you look in and go, "Well, you're going to do without, we're going to make your neighborhood less safe"? That concerns me.
And so I've been told that the reason we don't have enough police officers is because we don't have it in the budget. To which I would say, well, you budget for the things that matter. We've budgeted for other things, public safety has to be budgeted for.
Do you think the city needs a comprehensive audit?
So I believe that the city needs a comprehensive audit because I believe the citizens of Columbia believe the city needs a comprehensive audit. And so if I told you there was a bear in the window over there, you said no, there's not, if I believe it, I think that's true, you're not going to convince me that it's not. So to me, do the audit because the citizens would have more confidence either in the outcome or the changes we made based on the audit.