COLUMBIA, Mo. - Partnering organizations hosted the Columbia Disabilities Issues Forum Tuesday to give candidates from ward's 2 and 6 an opportunity to showcase their ideas to the disability community.
The three leaders currently are on City Council but are up for re-election April 3.
The event took place at Woodhaven in Columbia for those City Council leaders to lay out their ideas to help Columbia residents who live with disabilities.
Ward 2 candidates Mike Trapp and Paul Love, and Betsy Peters from Ward 6 attended.
The forum had each candidate present their opening statement and moderator Max Lewis then posed questions relating to disability issues within the community.
Lewis said there wasn't a lack of urgency for entertaining accessible, universal-design housing (apartment and homes) for the downtown area.
All three candidates seemed concerned about creating transportation opportunities for individuals with disabilities who live off the beaten path of the bus routes.
According to Lewis, Trapp, Love and Peters seemed favorable on all the issues presented. All except accessible and affordable downtown housing.
A spokesperson for Boone County Family Resources said the forum served a dual purpose. It helped inform candidates about issues important to people with disabilities and it helped inform voters with disabilities about the candidates before the election.
For the last two decades disability-related organizations have gathered together to give upcoming candidates an opportunity to voice their concerns related to disability issues.
Lewis said all three current City Council leaders showed great concern regarding people with disabilities, getting into the job market and pursuing employment.
"I thought it went really well, let's just hope it has an impact on the community down the line," Lewis said.
One Boone County resident, Veronica Schultz, said if she had a chance to sit down with one, it would be with Mike Trapp.
"He's currently doing this type of work within the community and just to learn about his experiences (and) some of the challenges that he's seen, and opportunities to partner with local businesses," Schultz said.
On the other hand Trapp's opponent, Paul Love, shared an emotional moment on what he does on weekdays that involves a child with a disability. Love said his friend's son is a non-speech autism child and one time he happened to climb up on a pirate ship only to be yelled at. Only thing was the child couldn't hear, so according to Love the mom said,
"You a**hole, he doesn't understand you! He doesn't speak."
Love said it's the reason why he spends his Wednesday nights with his friend's son, to understand those that have limitations better.