City Council Candidates Respond to PedNet Survey

Each year we survey the candidates running for City Council election on topics related to PedNet’s transportation work, and share the results with our members.

The candidates running for City Council this year are:

city of columbia logoMayor

  • Skip Walther
  • Brian Treece

3rd Ward

  • Karl Skala
  • Tom Leuther

4th Ward

  • Ian Thomas
  • Daryl Dudley

We contacted each candidate. We did not receive responses from Tom Leuther or Daryl Dudley.

1. PedNet Coalition advocates for the most basic forms of transportation: walking, biking, using a wheelchair, and taking the bus. As a City Council member, what role would you play in making transportation safe and accessible for everyone?

Skip Walther

Public safety in all its forms is the top priority of any government. I applaud the efforts of PedNet to make Columbia a safer and more accessible city.

Brian Treece

I have consistently advocated for safe and accessible transportation alternatives. As an advocate for trails and bike paths, I worked to set-aside federal funds for trail right-of-way and construction in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. My family has been a proud supporter of the Walking School Bus program and our son was quoted in Newsweek promoting Columbia’s model program.

Karl Skala

I have consistently advocated for safe, accessible transportation. I have voted for several multimodal transportation projects, including the 2004 Street Design Standards Ordinance, the Health Impact Assessment, and the completion of numerous trails including Hominy Branch. I will continue to support Transit Oriented Development. Suburban style growth creates issues for public health, access, and socialization, and strains our ability to pay for infrastructure.

Ian Thomas

If re-elected, I would lead the effort to adopt and implement a Vision Zero policy. I would continue to push for additional funding for sidewalks and traffic calming, work with the City’s transit consultant, Olsson Associates, to educate stakeholders (especially, the University of Missouri and the business community) about the benefits of a well-funded bus system, and support trails. I would also demand a more data-driven process for allocating millions of dollars for road expansion projects.

 

2. What improvements do you think are necessary to make walking, biking and using a wheelchair safe and convenient forms of transportation? How do you suggest these improvements be funded?

Skip Walther

An expanded trail system would go a long way. Ideally, Columbia would be ringed with our trail system to facilitate access. Our Parks and Recreation Department might assist with funding by dedicating a portion of its revenue for an expanded trail system.

Brian Treece

Transportation and intersection improvements should be designed for integrated multi-modal use.

Karl Skala

Intersection design and improvement are key to convenience and efficiencies with respect to walking, biking and the utility of wheelchair use. Improved trail access is also an important issue. These improvements are and continue to be funded within the Capital Improvement Sales Tax 10-Year Plan (CIP) and augmented with Parks funding.

Ian Thomas

City Council should adopt and implement a Vision Zero policy, as recommended by the Mayor’s Task Force on Pedestrian Safety. Educational components of the policy would be funded through a “One Percent for Safety Education” policy (using 1% of road improvement budgets), while enforcement and engineering recommendations would be funded as part of a general increase in law enforcement funding and re-allocation of resources within Traffic Engineering

 

3. What improvements do you think are necessary to make sure that Columbia’s bus system is a reliable and convenient form of transportation? Would you support increased funding for public transit to make this happen?

Skip Walther

This is a protracted problem that has escaped a solution for quite some time. I will explore partnership opportunities with MU and CPS to see if there are economies of scale that can help drive down the cost of public transportation but still provide added options for ridership and routes.

Brian Treece

I support providing bus shelters and benches to encourage ridership. It frustrates me to see consumers sitting in the dirt with grocery bags waiting for a bus. We cannot expect someone to use the city bus for a job interview when they are standing in the rain waiting for a bus. We should also use GIS-based decision-making to better determine bus routes that are more frequent, fast and reliable.

Karl Skala

I will continue to push for Transit Oriented Development and its economic and public health benefits. I will seek a better balance among airport, road maintenance and transit funded by the 0.5% permanent transportation sales tax. I support using different sizes of buses to meet riders’ needs and save money, which could be used to expand operating hours and frequency. I pushed to fund more bus shelters from the CIP, and will continue to do so in order to attract more riders.

Ian Thomas

New funding must be identified in order to improve Columbia’s bus system, and the University of Missouri must be a key part of that solution. I will work with Olsson Associates to educate MU and other stakeholders about the broad community benefits of a well-funded bus system, and develop a long-range funding plan for expansion. In addition to a student transit fee, the bus system needs a community-based funding source – possibly by increasing its share of the transportation sales tax.

 

4. How do you think the City and Columbia Public Schools could work together to encourage students to walk, bike, and use public transportation to get to and from school?

Skip Walther

Many of our residents walk or bike to school with their children. Our city should encourage this behavior and work with CPS to promote healthy ways to get to and from school.

Brian Treece

From a planning perspective, the City and Columbia Public Schools should work together to develop neighborhood schools, especially elementary schools, that elevate walking and biking to school and preserve precious transportation categorical funding.

Karl Skala

We already offer free bus passes to students under 18 years of age. I would also seek to work with the CPS to advocate for changes in state statutes so that the city transit system could serve more students, thus saving money for both entities. In addition, safe intersection design would enhance parents’ comfort level with respect to their children’s ability to safely walk and bike to school.

Ian Thomas

Having worked on this issue for fifteen years, it is my current assessment that political leadership is needed for Columbia Public Schools to move to the next level, as many other school districts have done. Community advocates should work with Board of Education members who have supported safe routes to school efforts in the past, and design a proactive campaign to properly implement existing policies regarding the many benefits of kids walking and biking to school.

 

5. Many Columbia leaders and community members are advocating that the City adopt a Vision Zero policy. Vision Zero is a data-driven goal and strategy to achieve zero deaths or serious injuries on the road system. Would you support the City adopting a Vision Zero policy? If yes, how would you be a champion of Vision Zero? If no, please explain why.

Skip Walther

Yes. Safety should be a top priority in the design of our road system.

Brian Treece

I support a Vision Zero policy consistent with my personal goals to improve public safety in Columbia. I would support a data-driven goal with clear metrics and deliverables that dovetail into my community policing initiative, dashboard transparency, and public awareness campaign.

Karl Skala

Reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries is a primary public health and safety responsibility for our local government. So long as Vision Zero is data-driven, I would support and champion it. I believe that my voting record with respect to intersection improvements, bicycle safety, and wheelchair accessibility speaks for itself.

Ian Thomas

If re-elected, I would work with City Council colleagues to adopt and implement a Vision Zero policy, as recommended by the Mayor’s Task Force on Pedestrian Safety. This would establish safety as the most important factor in transportation system design and operation, and assert that traffic deaths are preventable and, therefore, unacceptable. I would then work to implement the other fifteen Task Force recommendations, which include funding strategies.