Columbia City Council Candidates Address Negative Ads in Final Forum Before Election

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COLUMBIA - Columbia City Council and School Board candidates met in their final joint forum on Thursday night. More than 50 people showed up for the forum, which was hosted by the organizations Keep Columbia Free and Missouri Civil Liberties Association.

City council candidates were asked about negative attack ads before handing the floor over to school board candidates. This question comes after reactions to Sixth Ward candidate Bill Tillotson's negative attack ads on two-term Sixth Ward councilwoman Barbara Hoppe.

"I've been truly offended," Hoppe said, "and I think any future candidate will think twice about the slanderous, malicious false advertising and campaigning that has gone on in this campaign."

One of Tillotson's ads accuses Hoppe of being a hypocrite and abusing her power to stop a fraternity building project. The ad also accuses Hoppe of taking a $100,000 pay off.

"I've put out some pretty hard ads," Tillotson said. "Everything that's been said in the advertising is factual, it's documented. Every word, it's documented."

Tillotson also referenced the 2010 city council race between Third Ward candidate Gary Kespohl and incumbent Karl Skala. He said that people have forgotten that the previous race was "very brutal."

Second Ward candidates Michael Trapp, Mike Atkinson and Bill Pauls shook hands and commended each other for running campaigns free of negative advertisement. The three candidates also shared a few laughs during the forum.

"I'm thankful we've kept this very cordial," Atkinson said.

"These two gentlemen have made me a much better candidate, Pauls said.

Columbia residents can take to the polls on Tuesday, April 3 to vote for city council and school board candidates.