Columbia residents get a first glimpse at Columbia\'s city council candidates

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COLUMBIA - Five candidates running for the First and Fifth wards' city council seats kicked off their first town hall style meeting Thursday night at Columbia Board of Realtors. 

Columbia residents received the chance to ask questions and voice their concerns, pertaining to how the candidates hope to improve the community. 

The candidates running for the First Ward seats are Andrew Hutchinson, Pat Kelley and Clyde Ruffin, who is seeking re-election.

Hutchison said working in public housing and experiencing the housing conditions, pushed him to run for the First Ward city council seat. 

"I reached out to multiple communities and realized their needs weren't being met by current city council policy," Hutchinson said. "So I went from there and decided to run. "

While Kelley's goal is to bring the community together through neighborhood participation.

Kelly said in order for city council to make good decisions, the community has to be involved.  

Ruffin focused on equality and integrating the city. Ruffin said he was thankful he was elected before and hopes he will receive the opportunity to serve the First Ward again. 

The candidates running for the Fifth Ward seats are Matt Pitzer and Arthur Jago.

Matt Pitzer said he want to focus on infrastructure and public safety. 

"On infrastructure, I want to make sure that we're moving ahead with the right projects and the right time and that we're spending our dollars wisely," Pitzer said. "On public safety I think we really need to focus and determine what is the right level of staffing for the fire department and the police department." 

While Jago said his teaching skills will help him make decisions if he were elected.

"My background is both as an engineer and is a professor of business," Jago said. "So I'll bring both sets of skills to council."  

Sean Moore, a Columbia resident and president elect of the Columbia Board of Realtors, said a strong city council is necessary to support the city's needs. 

"Its very important for all residents of Columbia to know their candidates and what their candidates stand for," Moore said.

The candidates also touched on zoning, public safety and infrastructure.