After working on a recall effort with Columbia City Council, senior Jake Loft entered the race against seven others to replace former First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick.
Loft, who came to MU from Grafton, Illinois, said he first considered entering the race while working on the recall effort to remove Chadwick from office after she “went back on promises and didn’t represent the constituents in ways they wanted to be represented.”
During Chadwick’s time in office, she proposed and passed a law, which raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21. She also angered many of her constituents by voting against a measure that would've decriminalized small amounts of marijuana after saying she would back such a proposal. Chadwick, an MU graduate student, resigned in January.
As a student, Loft has been juggling multiple responsibilities since he started campaigning in January for the council seat.
Though he said it’s not easy, he’s able to balance it all because he said he’s fortunate enough to be in a position in his academic career that allows him to only take 12 credit hours this semester.
As an information technology major, Loft said he would like to combine his work in politics with his degree and do something “along the lines of voter analytics or work with polling data” in the future.
Loft became involved in the recall effort the day of the City Council meeting where he said Chadwick broke her campaign promises.
“Ginny Chadwick broke her campaign promise of supporting an ordinance reducing the penalties for cannabis cultivation,” Loft said. “Some upset constituents of hers, including myself, then organized a campaign to pursue a recall.”
Loft said running a grassroots-style campaign allows him to be personally in touch with voters.
“With less than 1,000 voters, and with eight people running, I’m doing my best to deliver what people want,” Loft said. “It comes down to knocking on doors and talking to all the voters face-to-face.”
The First Ward encompasses the central Columbia area, which includes downtown, MU and the Columbia Mall, according to a map on the city’s website. Douglass Park and the surrounding neighborhood is in the First Ward as well.
“There’s a lot of diversity and economic opportunity in this area,” former First Ward candidate Mitch Richards said. “It’s at the heart of a lot of issues, since it encompasses a major university and a lot of various neighborhoods and businesses.”
Through this campaign, Loft said he isn’t necessarily interested in what he will gain out of this but instead what he is able to offer to the people he’ll serve if he’s elected.
“It’s all about making sure they’re represented in the way they should be and getting what they deserve in return for what they do,” Loft said.
Loft also said that by engaging in this election, it will be a good opportunity for him to get involved with the city and residents of Columbia.
At 20 years old, he said he doesn’t feel he’s at a disadvantage to what he’s up against.
“Newspapers like to make sure everyone knows how young I am,” Loft said. “There’s no reason a person who’s so young isn’t qualified for the job. I believe being young makes me stand out. I’m not tied up in special interests around town.”
With elections coming up April 7, Loft said he’s learned much from his campaign experience thus far. He said that it’s tough to have a congressmen represent their constituents in a way they want to be represented.
Though this may be the case, Loft said he believes his vision for the future is one that “can unite a lot of people.”
Loft said more than anything he wants to establish trust between the people of Columbia and the City Council.
“(My vision) will create a lot of economic opportunity, and we have the chance to do that,” Loft said. “I believe I am the best person for that.”
Since this area contains an abundance of economy opportunity, Richards said, it could give Loft’s vision a chance to flourish.
Loft said that while other candidates are using this opportunity as a stepping stone to further their political careers, he is running because he wants to be able to properly represent the citizens of Columbia.
“My generation is about to inherit the city and the country,” Loft said. “So it’s not a bad thing for us to be invested in the government already.”
Looking ahead to the election, Loft said there is a big chance for change with the upcoming council.
“We have a real opportunity here to have a really good City Council,” Loft said. “We’re looking at a whole new panel and political landscape if certain people get elected.”