In their words: Frederick Schmidt
Schmidt sat down to speak with The Maneater about his goals as he runs for First Ward Councilman, a position that represents a part of MU's campus on the City Council.
Dec. 10, 2010
The Maneater: The most obvious question and the first question I’m going to ask you is why do you want to run for First Ward Councilman?
Fred Schmidt: I have a vision for what Columbia could be. The First Ward is an interesting ward because it’s very diverse. It’s got a lot of the dormitories, it’s got a residential section, which is sort of the center of town and it’s also got downtown, which is really for everybody. It’s an interesting ward, and it’s got a lot of complex issues.
M: What is the vision you have for Columbia?
FS: Right now, the burning issues are the economy, the budget and jobs. These are issues which really effect the First Ward. There is a little bit more unemployment in Ward 1 than there is in other wards. We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years in making Columbia a wonderful place to live and work. You can conceive the challenge, so how do we continue to maintain our quality of life and maintain a vibrant community in this environment? Government’s really having to rethink a lot of what it does.
M: What’s your background, what skills do you bring to the table for City Council?
FS: I’m an accountant, my degrees are in economics, I have a B.A. in economics from Vasser and an M.A. in economics from UC-Berkley. After grad school, I worked on Wall Street as a bond analyst, which is the number crunching behind all these wonderful products like mortgage backed securities and derivatives.
M: So you can explain what a derivative is then?
FS: (Laughing): Yeah, but let’s not on the record.
M: You’ve spoken to several council members and worked with others. With all the local government people that are leaving, Laura Nauser and Paul Sturtz are on their way out, City Manager Bill Watkins is retiring and Director of Finance Lori Fleming is leaving, you have huge turnover this year, how does that affect the way things run in the coming years?
FS: You’re losing a lot of institutional memory, these are all people who have been with the city for a long time. This is both sad in losing the knowledge and experience, but it’s also an opportunity if we’re going to change directions in areas.
M: A big part of the Ward 1 constituency is the dorms and MU. Along that line, what relationship do you think the city should have with the University?
FS: It’s this accident of geography that the university happens to be close to downtown and that has saved our downtown. I think the University benefits from having a vibrant downtown. You know, it’s a fun place to eat and shop.
M: I mean, I enjoy it. Could you talk about what most interests you about local government?
FS: What I really love about local government, and about our local government in particular, is that it’s small enough and they know each other well enough, they will actually listen to each other and occasionally change their mind. You don’t get that in the U.S. Senate; a lot of the politicking takes place behind closed doors.