A look at Columbia's mayoral candidates
Oct. 30, 2009
Four candidates are running for mayor of Columbia, replacing Mayor Darwin Hindman, who has been mayor since 1995. The filing period for candidates started Oct. 23 and will end January 2010. Candidates must collect 100 signatures from Columbia residents to be listed on the ballot. The election will be held April 6, 2010.
Columbia tavern owner Sal Nuccio is running for mayor, but he is saving some of his political energy for when the campaign heats up.
Nuccio confirmed Wednesday he is still a candidate, despite reports earlier this week he had dropped out of the race because he had not filed his candidacy papers as soon as other candidates. Nuccio said the move was not a political calculation.
"Everyone was rushing to turn in their paperwork to be first on the ballot," Nuccio said. "But with only four people on the ballot, how much of a difference will it really make?"
Nuccio said Wednesday he is done giving interviews for at least a couple weeks as he, like others, takes time to formulate his platform after declaring candidacy.
The media attention surrounding his announcement he would run has been intense, he said, and he has received several interview requests from local media.
In 2008, Nuccio ran for City Council on a platform of reducing crime downtown, especially vandalism he said was hurting small business owners who have to pay for damages.
During his run for the First Ward seat, Nuccio proposed stationing more Columbia police officers in downtown hot spots so the police would have credible witnesses. He said some crimes against his business and others downtown were not being prosecuted because a lack of witnesses and the theme of his bar.
Saying at the start of his campaign he just wanted to "raise some hell," Nuccio later withdrew from the race to pursue other business opportunities and so as not to split the vote with fellow First Ward business owner and eventual winner Paul Sturtz.
Nuccio, a native of Jersey City, N.J., has been a business owner in Columbia for 12 years. He runs the Eastside Tavern, a bar at the corner of Broadway and Hitt Street with a punk rock and science fiction atmosphere. He previously operated the Penguin Dueling Piano Bar across the street from Eastside but sold it when the building began to deteriorate.
Columbia resident Paul Love entered the mayoral race with a focus on the residents around him and the issues affecting them most. At the top of his list is crime.
Love said conversations with his neighbors drove home how important the issue was.
"We've been noticing an increase in crime in the last month or so," Love said. "You really don't realize how much stuff happens in your neighborhood until you've walked a dozen blocks and talked to people."
Love also said he objects to the city relying on matching funds from the state and federal government to sell projects to voters as inexpensive to the city. He said though the city's budget is nearly balanced, those matching funds come in the form of tax dollars from other citizens and possibly even Columbia residents paying higher state taxes in the future.
Love said reducing the city's reliance on matching funds could be a small step toward reining in the federal budget deficit, which earlier this year passed the $10 trillion mark.
"Our public debt nationwide is skyrocketing and I don't think that's something we want to pass on to future generations," he said. "I think that all Americans need to stand up and be responsible for it."
Although he said he might not be the favorite of the race, Love said running for mayor was about more than just winning. Even if he loses, Love said he will be satisfied knowing he brought more attention to those issues than if he did not run.
"I know several candidates are going to be better funded than me," Love said. "But win, lose or draw, I think I'll get a chance to bring some good ideas to the table and at least make them known."
Love is a network administrator for the vehicle records Web site Carfax.
Sid Sullivan said Columbia needs to grow, but smartly.
Sullivan, a member of the Downtown Optimist Club and the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition, is running for mayor on a platform of smart urban development, with an emphasis on building neighborhoods around schools.
He pointed to the transportation costs in local school budgets as money to be saved by more efficient planning.
"If we look at school budgets, 15 percent goes to transportation, not educating kids," Sullivan said. "The city and the school board both need to use resources more efficiently."
Sullivan said the city must find a way to communicate the basic needs of public facilities and infrastructure before development begins.
"The city needs to work more effectively with the county and the school boards," he said. "We can't afford to keep letting developers do all the planning while taxpayer and ratepayer foot the bill."
Columbia Vision Commission member Dan Goldstein said Sullivan is well qualified to run on a smart growth platform.
"He's very well educated in what's happening on the issue," Goldstein said. "He's written a lot of editorials about the building of the high school on the east side of town."
Sullivan also said the city needs to revise its charter to give elected officials more control over personnel decisions. The charter now gives City Manager Bill Watkins the power to hire and fire city department heads.
"Right now, it basically gives all the power to the city manager, who is not elected," he said. "The council needs to take back that control."
Sullivan's platform will also include planks addressing diminished city revenues and what he calls "a pending energy crisis" which could possibly increase city expenses. He said he has public safety concerns, too, particularly the use of Tasers by local police officers in a town with a large university student population.
Sullivan, who is retired, ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for a seat on the Boone County Commission and in 2006 for Columbia's 24th district seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said the race for mayor starts when the filing period ends in the middle of January. Until then, he is not doing a lot of talking about his platform.
"Between now and then, I'm not talking issues," Wade said Tuesday at the Columbia Keys to the City event. "I'm listening. Anyone around the city who wants me to listen to them, I will listen."
Wade has represented the Fourth Ward since 2007 and was previously part of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission, which he led for nearly half of his 15-year tenure.
A councilman for a single term, Wade has pushed for the recently begun overhaul of city zoning codes and he has worked to pass a territorial agreement between the city and county fire departments to share jurisdiction in the city's outskirts. He also helped pass an ordinance so private sewer owners would not have to continue paying repair costs for city sewers.
Two issues central to his council campaign, which he might include in his mayoral platform, were smart growth and a focus on development and economic expansion.
In order to run for mayor, Wade will have to give up seat on the council and will not be allowed to return if he loses.
Wade said the mayoral race will be a competitive one and his experience on City Council is one reason why voters should choose him.
"I think that we're at an important point in Columbia's history and I think there are a lot of important issues that are going to be dealt with over the next several years," Wade said. "I think I've got the experience and the knowledge and the skills to be a good mayor and to provide the town with good leadership."