Chamber of Commerce meets with school board, hospital trustee candidates

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum for the Columbia Public School's school board and Boone Hospital Trustee candidates Thursday.

The candidates running for the school board of education are Robin Dianics, Jonathan Sessions, Paul Cushing and Helen Wade. The latter two are seeking re-election.

Running for Boone Hospital Trustee is Taylor Burks, Gordon Christensen, Randy Marrow, Richard Shanker and Bob Wagner, who is seeking re-election.

The school board candidates discussed academic success, community involvement and budget pressures they would have to deal with if they were elected. 

Dianics said her goal is to bring people together through communication.

Cushing said he plans to use his school board experience to his advantage. 

"The last three years has been an incredible learning opportunity for me and I like to continue that," he said. 

Sessions emphasized he is from Columbia, and went to Columbia Public Schools his entire life.

"We need to focus on all aspects of the community," Sessions said. "We're focusing on financing, we're focusing right now on construction and keeping up with growth, getting rid of trailers in our district, and most importantly, focusing on academic success."

Wade said she wants to make sure students succeed in school and tax payers dollars are spent wisely.

"We need to continue to keep the promises we made to our taxpayers with our tax payers dollars that have been given to the district by our voters," Wade said. "In addition to that, I think making sure that we are able to maintain a high level of student achievement is absolutely critical."

The Boone Hospital Trustee candidates' main focus was whether or not to renew the hospital lease to an outside company, Barnes-Jewish Hospital HealthCare.

Shanker said he wants to gain independence from the company.

"I am running for this position to represent people that are interested in retaining the ownership and the running of the hospital by people here in Boone County," he said.

Burks said the Boone Hospital's lease is renewed every 30 years, and he plans to stay around to keep people informed.

"I'm the only candidate who's running next year to make sure voters understand whats happening on the board. 

Christensen and Marrow said their main focus was to make sure Columbia residents trust the hospital with their health issues.

Wagner said his previous experience as a trustee will help him make the decision on whether or not to renew the lease with an outside company. 

"I feel like, because of my experience on the board and involvement in these meetings, it will be very beneficial to have my services available for this next year," Wagner said.

The election is April 4.