Dozens of people gathered in support of Brian Treece at Broadway Brewery on Tuesday night. They gathered to eat, talk and watch the votes for mayor being tallied.
Treece said he believed they ran a great campaign effort and brought together many volunteers who had never volunteered with a campaign before.
“They say campaigns are the ultimate team sport and I thought we put together a great team,” Treece said.
Treece said they knew it would be a close vote, so he and his supporters, friends and family gathered to wait and see what the final verdict would be.
“It's surreal,” Treece said. “I think it feels like the entire city has a secret and they're not telling me until the polls close tonight.”
Treece’s family came from as far as Texas to assist with the last days of his campaign and share their support. His father, Bill Treece, was among them.
“I feel very optimistic,” Bill Treece said. “I feel very good about it, and hopefully it’s going to end up with a win.”
He also joked that perhaps Brian’s political inclination came from him.
“I’ve always been active in politics and enjoyed elections,” Bill Treece said. “I think a little bit of it rubbed off on him.”
As the night progressed, more people arrived to gather, talk and eat. Then suddenly someone in the crowd yelled “We won,” and the room erupted in cheers.
Treece took the stage and thanked all of his supporters.
"First of all, I really think this election was a referendum on whether Columbia is going to be a city that works for all of us by investing in our neighborhoods and improving our infrastructure and fully funding our first responders,” Treece said. “As mayor, I look forward to rolling up my shirt sleeves and getting to work on that immediately.
Treece added that there are many challenges facing Columbia at the moment, but he is excited to get started on working toward change.
And as he gave his victory speech, his proud mother and father looked on.
“We’ve been waiting for this night, I tell ya,” Bill Treece said.
Just a few blocks down Broadway from Treece’s party, Walther and his supporters held court in the back of Billiards at their watch party on Tuesday night.
Les Wagner, who owns Billiards, met Walther in the Commons playing pool when they were both in school at MU.
Other supporters at Walther’s party included current Mayor McDavid and Second Ward Council member Michael Trapp, citing Walther’s integrity and willingness to find common ground as major virtues.
“I supported Skip’s campaign. I thought he would have made a great mayor,” Trapp said. “I’m a little disappointed in the result but I expect Brian to do a great job as mayor.”
Both Trapp and Mayor McDavid said the mayoral race had two quality candidates in Treece and Walther.
The campaign has consumed the time of Walther and his wife Kathy, who jokingly self-identifies as the campaign’s sign queen.
“Tomorrow, I get to take down all the signs,” she said, laughing. “The sign queen won’t let this go until they’re not blowing around all the yards.”
Both Kathy and Skip Walther will be going back to work Wednesday – she as a project manager at McAffe Construction and Walther as a lawyer at Walther, Antel and Stamper.
Walther says it’s too early to decide if he’ll run for mayor again.
In his concession speech to those gathered, Walther reiterated his positive “Many Voices, One City” campaign slogan to a receptive crowd of family, friends and colleagues.
“Despite tonight’s result I am proud of the campaign we ran, for the message we tried to deliver and most of all, I am proud to call all of you my friends. Thank you and I can’t thank you enough.”
Walther couldn’t get through to Treece by phone to make his concession, so he made the walk up the street, where they shared a short conversation.
“I know you’ve been trying to call, sorry,” Treece said.
“We’re OK. I know we both want what’s best for Columbia, and I wish you the best,” Walther said.
“I appreciate it. You didn’t have to come down here.”
“It’s OK – happy to do it. Congratulations.”
“And I told you when I announced that regardless of who won or lose, I hope the other person wants to stay involved.”
“Yep, there you go. Good luck,” Walther said.
“Thank you,” Treece said, and made his way back into the party.