Mayoral candidate Brian Treece: "I am a fiscal conservative."
COLUMBIA - Brian Treece said he decided to run for mayor because he thinks Columbia is at a crossroads.
"There's a lot at stake, let me just say that," he said.
Treece is a member of both the Downtown Leadership Council (DLC) and Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission. He said he is different from his opponent, Skip Walther, because his conservative values align more with Columbia voters. (See our candidate profile of Skip Walther.)
"Clearly I'm a fiscal conservative. I mean, I'm the only candidate that wants to go through our budget line by line," Treece said.
He said Walther favors higher sales taxes and higher property taxes.
"Before we ask voters for a tax increase, I think we need to show them that we've made the tough decisions," Treece said.
He said his first day in office he would focus on two things.
"Well first we need to continue the hard work of restoring public confidence in how well the city plans for growth. Second, I think we need to make sure we make the appropriate investments in our public safety, increasing the number of police officers to add more community policing, but also adding the fire stations we need to keep our neighborhoods and family's safe."
Treece said he would have three main priorities as mayor.
- Downtown Development
- Public Safety
- Jobs for underprivileged/underemployed workers
Treece said he wants to give all Columbia citizens the opportunity to work their way into a high-wage job.
"For those that are underemployed, I want to make sure that we create job-training linkages, that connect workers with the education and the job training they need to really develop a career pathway that help both our companies and families grow and prosper."
Treece said he would be a drastically different mayor than Walther or current Mayor Bob McDavid, because he'd work to change what he calls a "zoning loophole," which he said allows developers to build student housing projects without the city's approval.
"My opponent, and the mayor that preceded him, are really more about dragging their feet when it comes to closing the downtown zoning loophole that has cannibalized our neighborhoods to subsidize student housing downtown," he said.
Treece said the issues that are important to his campaign resonate with Columbia families. He added that he believes Walther is mistaking voiced frustration for dirty politics.
"I wonder if some of the vitriol and the divisiveness that my opponent references is really a part of voter's frustration that 'my elected officials aren't listening to me,' and I want to send a clear message that your city council and your mayor is going to listen to your concerns and take those concerns into effect when we make decisions," Treece said.
He said money isn't a motivating factor for his campaign.
"I don't think that anyone gets into this job for the money, and I think this election is a make or break for Columbia and our future," he said.
Treece said he believes Columbia needs a mayor with the courage to make changes.
"Columbia's a great city, but we have a few challenges right now, and we really need a mayor that has the energy to roll up their sleeves and get to work and tackle these issues head on."