Columbia candidates discuss issues at forum days before April election

Columbia candidates discuss issues at forum days before April election

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Candidates running for positions on the city council, school board and Boone Hospital Board of Trustees participated in a forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon.

Columbia Public School Board of Education:

Five candidates running for two seats on the Columbia Public School Board of Education answered questions first. Those questions included how they planned to attract and retain qualified teachers to the district and whether they would support legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns.

All candidates said they would not support arming teachers. 

The five candidates include Christine King (incumbent), Ben Tilley, Tyler Lero, Susan Blackburn and Teresa Maledy.

Boone Hospital Board of Trustees:

Greg Steinhoff and Mark Dempsey are running for a position on the Boone Hospital Board of Trustees. 

The candidates answered questions centered around the future of Boone Hospital Center after paused negotiations between the hospital and MU Health Care were announced earlier this year.

Both candidates agreed the option of being a stand alone hospital is a good option for Boone Hospital Center right now.

"We're going to need outside help to really know what all our risks are, and probably going to need outside help to help us make that kind of transition should we decide to go that direction," Steinhoff said.

"Once you can get everything going for this stand alone model, you can actually make a good educated decision. Can we make it? Can we not? Can we last until then?" Dempsey said. "It is a very scary thing. It is very risky, but I do agree that I think right now it is our best option to be exploring."

Columbia City Council:

Paul Love is challenging incumbent Michael Trapp for the Ward 2 city council position.

The candidates fielded questions ranging in topics from improving public safety to attracting new business to Columbia.

The forum comes just three days after Love was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Love told ABC 17 News Wednesday he had a diabetic episode, which caused him to blow a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

The candidates waited until their closing comments to take jabs at each other.

"I have a strong record of accomplishment, of sober decision making, of explaining myself clearly, meeting with all the stakeholders and coming to the best decision in the long term,” Trapp said.

Trapp asked for a donation call at the end of his comments, which got some laughs from the audience.

“He’d like more of your money. Please give him more of your money. He’d like you to send it to him personally. He’d like you to send it in terms of taxes," Love responded.

Columbia and Boone County residents will be able to vote for the candidates on April 3. 

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