COLUMBIA - The field is set for the Feb. 5 special election to take Helen Anthony's place as Columbia's fifth ward council member. The three candidates met Friday for a forum at the Boone County Pachyderm Club. The candidates spoke about several issues, but transportation, power lines and the city's budget dominated the conversation. The field includes Laura Nauser, Mark Jones and Tootie Burns.
Nauser spent six years on the council representing the fifth ward from 2005-2011 and ran unsuccessfully against Chris Kelly for the Missouri House in 2010.
Mark Jones is the political director for Missouri National Education Association.
Tootie Burns is the treasurer for the Grasslands Neighborhood Association.
The three took questions from the audience for about 45 minutes. Each had a different take on the transportation issue facing Columbia.
"I think we need to encourage the students that are living downtown to use the FastCat. I like the mayor's idea of giving passes out," said Burns.
"At the end of the day we need to develop a model of FastCat that actually meets the public transit needs here, which is something that runs at somewhat unusual hours," said Jones.
"I don't think it's going to be one of those things that's ever going to be totally self-sufficient because we can't charge the fares that are going to be adequate to support it," said Nauser.
All three candidates also thought that the city of Columbia should have better long-term budget planning. The three are vying for the seat vacated by Helen Anthony after she resigned Nov. 30. Anthony served less than 20 months on the city council before announcing she would be moving to Providence R.I. to be closer to her family.