Another MU student to enter First Ward elections

"I hope that this will lead to the city taking us more seriously," Phillips said. "We aren't just temporary citizens. We can vote, and we will vote when we care about things."

Chad Phillips, a 21-year-old senior with experience working at the city level for the Missouri Students Association, filed to run for the position of a write-in candidate last Wednesday in the upcoming Columbia City Council election for the First Ward seat.

This brings the declared candidate field for the council spot vacated by Ginny Chadwick, who resigned in January under threat of recall, up to nine. The special election will take place April 7.

Pedestrian safety, public transit and community involvement with City Council are some of the main issues Phillips said he hopes to tackle if elected.

"If I had to pick one main reason for what pushed me to run, it had to be the lack of student representation that I've seen over my years working with MSA," Phillips said. "I think there's a unique opportunity for student representation in this position of the First Ward, as it represents (students) both in the dorms and the Greek houses."

The First Ward encompasses the area between Providence Road to the west, College Avenue to the east, Stadium Boulevard to the south and Interstate 70 to the north, in addition to parts of Columbia westward on Broadway.

Phillips, the former Campus and Community Relations Committee chairman, said he made up his mind to run despite missing the deadline for filing to appear on the ballot after seeing the candidates in the race at City Council candidate forums.

"I would start going to the forums and I would realize that all these candidates focus on one specific demographic, and there was no real mention of students," Phillips said. "Nobody pushed the issue of, 'Hey, we would also represent students.' I decided to go for it. I thought I would regret it if I didn't (run)."

Former MSA Senate Speaker Ben Bolin, who worked with Phillips for two years, said he hopes Phillips can "mend the gap" between campus and Columbia.

"Chad Phillips is passionate about Columbia," Bolin said. "That passion alone sets him apart. He has spent his term as CCRC chair working with the city and realizing how far (the city) has let the First Ward deteriorate. Chad recognizes this, and wants to correct it. He motivates others to action, which will be invaluable to him in this position."

While Phillips, who is originally from Valmeyer, Illinois, admits running as a write-in candidate will be more difficult, he said he saw no downside to entering the race.

"Worst-case scenario, we get more students out to vote and more students aware of city issues," he said. "The best thing that can happen from this experience is getting more students out to vote and more involved with city issues. In the process of campaigning, I'm hoping primarily to just get students more engaged and more aware of these issues. I don't think it's just the media's responsibility. The council should take initiative to make sure the community, including the student body, knows about these issues and can have a say in the process of creating those, as well."

He believes bringing even 200 additional students to the polls will "send a message" to City Council, regardless of who wins.

"I hope that this will lead to the city taking us more seriously," Phillips said. "We aren't just temporary citizens. We can vote, and we will vote when we care about things."

Phillips said having a student voice on City Council would allow the students to be more directly involved with city issues that impact them. He cited his work in CCRC trying to get COMO Connect to sell passes in the MSA/GPC Box Office and pick up passengers from different campus locations — in both cases, he said, a student-held seat on the council would have made a difference.

"A lot of these issues we ran into could be easily solved by someone on the city level collaborating with the university or the student body," he said. "I think I can almost wholeheartedly say that I understand more of the city issues more than the other candidates. I've learned to navigate the issues on the municipal level and how those relationships work and which ones are important, and what ways to get what you need done and to advocate for a certain group. I can go up there and truly advocate for everyone in the First Ward."

Phillips said he believes he can win.

"I think I can motivate and excite enough students about some of these issues and the idea of having true representation on council that they will go out and vote, hopefully," Phillips said. "I think there's a chance."

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