Columbia mayoral candidates face off in only official debate

7 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago Thursday, March 21 2019 Mar 21, 2019 Thursday, March 21, 2019 8:54:00 PM CDT March 21, 2019 in News
By: Natalie Sopyla, KOMU 8 News Reporter

COLUMBIA - Candidates in the Columbia mayoral race met Thursday night in the only event being called a 'debate' between the two.

Incumbent Mayor Brian Treece and his challenger Chris Kelly debated on a wide range of issues that a panel of three guided them through. Discussion topics ranged from jobs and the economy, to diversity and other social issues.

Treece continued to highlight his achievements in job creation and improvement of police morale. He said it is important to level the playing field and allow equal economic opportunities for everyone.

"Columbia is a shining star. We're one of the crown jewels of the state of Missouri," Treece said. "That allows people to come here and thrive here."

When asked about specific social initiatives he would enact if elected, Kelly talked about programs aimed at expunging felonies, and improving economic opportunity specifically through affordable housing.

Kelly said it is important for the city to continue to support its residents.

"Once upon a time in this country, we let people up," he said. "It's important to let people up, and it's important to give people a second chance."

Audience members also got to ask questions. Topics brought up by the audience included marijuana legalization and the integrity of law enforcement.

In their closing remarks, the candidates reiterated the improvements they believed the city needs. Kelly briefly questioned Treece's ethics, while Treece expressed the need for a more transparent city government.

Columbia residents can cast their vote for mayor on April 2.

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