Columbia mayoral candidates square off in energy forum

1 year 6 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, March 07 2019 Mar 7, 2019 Thursday, March 07, 2019 10:17:00 PM CST March 07, 2019 in Top Stories
By: Ethan Stein and Savannah Rudicel, KOMU 8 Reporters & Travis Breese, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
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COLUMBIA - Candidates for Columbia's mayoral race met Thursday for a candidate forum on energy and climate concerns.

Sitting Mayor Brian Treece and his challenger, former State Rep. Chris Kelly, met in the forum and challenged each other's lobbying backgrounds and reputations.

"As an attorney and a judge and an officer of the court, you have a duty to tell the truth. I think this is more about your integrity than it is mine," Treece said of Kelly.

With energy being the center of the forum, Kelly's work history with Ameren Missouri became a point of debate.

"The City of Columbia knew that I worked for Ameren, and Ameren knew I worked for the City of Columbia," Kelly said, defending himself from Treece's remarks.

Kelly also voiced his opinion that the city may need to work harder at its environmental future, instead of just creating more committees.

"Do we not have, between Columbia Water & Light and the mayor's commission, enough commissions on the subject?" Kelly asked. "Maybe we should focus more on getting things done."

The Osage Group Sierra Club, one of the co-sponsors of the forum, previously endorsed Treece.

Carolyn Amparan, chair of The Osage Group Sierra Club, said the group normally waits to make an endorsement after the forum. She said this time the environmental group used the candidates former records in office to make their decision.

"Part of the role of the forum is to educate the public and even the candidates," Amparan said. "As Sierra Club made an endorsement in the mayor's race, our representative will only participate in asking questions of the school board candidates."

Other sponsors for the forum included Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, Renew Missouri and Citizen's Climate Lobby of Columbia. 

Kelly said he isn't bothered with the Sierra Club organizing the forum, noting that they have endorsed him in the past during his time in the state legislature.

"He's an incumbent and incumbents tend to get endorsements," Kelly said. 

Two of the three school board contenders, Della Streaty-Wilhhoit and Blake Willoughby attended the meeting as well.

The third school board candidate, Jay Atkins, did not participate.

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