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VOTERS GUIDE: Columbia votes Tuesday for School Board, City Council seats

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the municipal election April 4.

No excuse absentee voting is open now through April 3. Voters may cast their ballots between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the Boone County Government Center.

Voters can find their polling precinct by checking their voter registration on the Secretary of State’s website or through a link on the Boone County Clerk’s website under the Where Do I Vote? button.

A new state law requires voters to have a valid photo ID with an expiration date issued by either the federal government or the state of Missouri.

This means voters need to have either a Missouri driver’s or nondriver’s license, or a passport or other federal identification, such as a military ID.

Registered voters who do not have a valid ID will be able to vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots will be reviewed by a bipartisan committee and will be counted if the signature on them matches the signature on the voter’s registration record.

Here's a breakdown of who and what is on the ballot in the municipal election:

Columbia School Board

This year, seven people are running for Columbia School Board. Three seats are coming open on the seven-person, volunteer board. Here is a brief look at the candidates, in ballot order:

Paul Harper thinks his long experience as a state attorney will help in understanding audits, finances and policies. He believes his ability to listen and collaborate will help the board communicate better with the community.

Running on the slogan “Let’s Get Back to the Basics,” John Potter wants the district to return to how it used to be before diversity, equity and inclusion efforts “took off.” He faced the board often as a public commenter.

Chris Horn believes his experience will allow him to serve a second term with a fresh perspective. He said he's learned that creating change requires not only ideas but unity and good governance, both of which he aims to improve.

James Gordon is grounding his campaign in building trust between the board and the community; providing accessible learning tools for all students, especially those with disabilities; and fostering equitable learning outcomes among all students.

John Lyman is focused on issues such as making schools more equitable and better supporting teachers. He wants to get out in the community as a board member and hear from district stakeholders on how to accomplish these goals.

A passionate and involved district parent, April Ferrao is guided by a desire to improve student achievement, create strong working and learning environments and make the best use of district resources.

Chuck Basye said he decided to run to provide conservatives, traditionalists and independent thinkers with an opportunity to see their views reflected in district leadership. He maintains the current board lacks political diversity.

The Missourian asked the candidates for school board to provide written responses to several questions through a Qualtrics survey in advance of the April 4 municipal election. Here are the issues and responses.

What School Board candidates say: about supporting district teachers

What School Board candidates say: about supporting district parents

What School Board candidates say: on DEI programs, discussions

What School Board candidates say: on student mental health

What School Board candidates say: on pandemic learning loss

What School Board candidates say: on supporting special ed students, families

What School Board candidates say: on district control of curriculum and operations

Columbia City Council 

Voters in Columbia’s First and Fifth wards will elect new representatives to the City Council on Tuesday.

In the First Ward, 28-year-old Nick Knoth is unopposed for his first three-year term on the council after incumbent Pat Fowler, whose name will appear on the ballot, ended her campaign for re-election to focus on caring for her stepmother.

Knoth is regional director for the Better Business Bureau. He has emphasized bringing the community together to find permanent solutions to the challenges of affordable housing, serving the unsheltered and addressing infrastructure needs in the First Ward.

In the Fifth Ward, Don Waterman and Gregg Bush are competing to succeed Matt Pitzer, who chose not to seek a third term.

Waterman, 63, is a demand analyst for American Outdoor Brands. He has made public safety and mental health services for the homeless cornerstones of his campaign. He says he wants to bring a conservative voice to the council and make it more friendly to business.

Bush, 48, is a registered nurse and coordinator of patient education and professional development at University Hospital. He has said he wants to find ways to make police more accountable, to make Columbia more neighborly and inclusive and to focus on infrastructure needs in the Fifth Ward and elsewhere.

The Missourian asked the three candidates for seats on the Columbia City Council to provide written responses to several questions through a Qualtrics survey in advance of the April 4 municipal election. Here are the issues and responses.

Council candidates discuss future of Citizens Police Review Board

Council candidates offer ideas for how to assist the unsheltered

Council candidates discuss strategies for creating more affordable housing

Council candidates foresee switch to roll carts for trash collection

City Council candidates share ideas for addressing staff shortages

Does Columbia need more police? Council candidates mull the question

Council candidates identify priorities for use of potential marijuana sales tax revenue

Council hopefuls ponder what to do about electric transmission system

Council candidates asked about ward-specific priorities

Fire district bond issue

Voters who live in the Boone County Fire Protection District will see an $8 million bond issue on their ballots in Tuesday’s municipal election.

If approved, the bond issue would finance construction of a new $5 million Fire Station 8 in the Rock Bridge area on South Route K. That station would be built on property immediately south of the existing Fire Station 8 that the district bought with proceeds of a bond issue approved in 2021.

It also would allow the district to spend $2 million to buy a new fire engine and two new 1,500-gallon fire tanker trucks and $1 million to buy new thermal imaging cameras for every fire engine, fire tanker and rescue squad in the district, as well as new battery-powered vehicle extrication equipment for each fire engine.

The district’s property tax levy would remain unchanged at 25 cents if the bond issue passes. That levy costs the owner of a $200,000 home $95 per year. Approval requires a four-sevenths majority, or 57.14% of the vote.

If the bond issue fails, the property tax would remain at 25 cents while the district continues to pay off previous bond issues.

Recreational marijuana sales tax

Both the Columbia City Council and the Boone County Commission have proposed taxes of 3% on sales of recreational marijuana products. The measures will appear on Tuesday’s ballot.

A key question is whether the taxes are “stackable” if both measures are approved. If so, that would result in a 6% tax on recreational marijuana sales within Columbia city limits, which would be on a top of a 6% state sales tax on the products.

Cities and counties across the state have placed similar measures on the ballot. The Missouri Department of Revenue has said that it will offer no guidance on whether taxes imposed by city and county governments are stackable and that the matter probably will have to be settled by the courts.

If both taxes are approved, Boone County would collect both the city and county taxes, but it would set the city tax revenue aside in a separate fund until the state determines whether the taxes are stackable.

Local sales taxes on recreational marijuana were authorized, subject to voter approval, by Amendment 3, which passed in the November general election.

The city has roughly estimated the tax would generate from $400,000 to $1 million per year for its general fund. The City Council when it placed the measure on the ballot said it planned to spend proceeds of the sales tax on an educational campaign, services for those with substance abuse problems and training for police.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick has said the tax revenue early on would be used to offset the costs of expunging court records for those with marijuana-related convictions, although the county tax, too, would go to the general fund.

Sturgeon School Bond Issue

Voters will be asked to approve a $2 million school bond issue for the Sturgeon R-V School District.

If approved, the funds would go toward constructing a new vestibule at the elementary and middle school building. The bond would also fund new flooring, bathroom upgrades, library renovations, new exterior doors for safety and security and other repairs.