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Columbia City Manager Job Finalists Go Toe to Toe in Person, Meet With Constituents

John Glascock and Jim Palenick speak to a crowded city hall chamber.
Nathan Lawrence

About 100 people gathered Wednesday night at Columbia’s council chambers to meet the two finalists for the job of City Manager.

John Glascock is currently serving as interim city manager and has worked more than 16 years with the city. Jim Palenick, the other finalist, is the city administrator in Racine, Wisconsin.

At last night’s public forum the candidates introduced themselves and answered four prearranged questions – on transparency, diversity and community policing. Afterward, members of the public were invited to meet one-on-one with the candidates.

Brittany Hughes works with Missouri Faith Voices. She said she would have liked a conversation with the candidates that went deeper on the issue of equity.

"Who are we really thinking of when we say diversity, inclusion and equity – and in my perception we are not thinking of folks who look like me – black and brown folks," Hughes said. "And I don’t think we’re thinking of folks who aren’t upper or upper-middle class, here in town."

Mayor Brian Treece said he was pleased with the turnout and the engagement of the candidates with the public.

"We expected a hundred people tonight, there’s over 120," Treece said. "Feedback forms are going to be tabulated and summarized, and we’ll look at them first thing in the morning with the help of our HR consultants."

The candidates will meet with the press Thursday morning before city councilmembers are scheduled to gather for deliberations – there’s no definite timeline, but a decision on the hire could come as early as Thursday.

Listen to full audio of Wednesday night's public forum with the candidates.

Janet Saidi is a producer and professor at KBIA and the Missouri School of Journalism.