Columbia mayoral candidates on sustainability

Sparkle Clark, Steve Benjamin, Aaron Johnson, Joe Azar, Gary Myers, Irwin Wilson and Steve Morrison

Sparkle Clark, Steve Benjamin, Aaron Johnson, Joe Azar, Gary Myers, Irwin Wilson and Steve Morrison

Tonight I dropped by the mayoral forum being sponsored by Sustainable Midlands at 701 Whaley. I only stayed through the opening statements and first question (which is all my colleague from The State stayed for, and he was getting paid to be there, so get outta my face), but I thought I’d give you the benefit of that little bit.

In fact, if you click on this, you get the full audio of the candidates giving their opening statements. It lasts 12 minutes and 43 seconds.

And here are the shorthand brief impressions I took away from each on that part of the program:

  • Sparkle Clark — She said she was a tree-hugger — said it a couple of times — and that she was so into flora that she persuaded her postmaster (she’s a postal worker) to let her keep a plant at work. She maintains a wildlife habitat in her yard.
  • Steve Benjamin — Hit themes of reform and fiscal responsibility, but quickly moved to environmental issues, spoke of need to “preserve God’s land for our children.”
  • Aaron Johnson — Said he was “just friends” with trees, that he was getting close to one oak, but hadn’t met her parents yet. Mr. Johnson sort of sees himself as the Groucho Marx of the mayoral campaign, or so I gather.
  • Joe Azar — Cited his credentials as having run a bicycle shop, and not having gotten a driver’s license until he was 23. He bragged about using paper campaign signs with wooden stakes (as opposed to plastic and metal), and he urged the other candidates to follow suit (Mr. Johnson volunteered that he couldn’t afford signs, and got another laugh).
  • Gary Myers Jr. — Basically stuck to his usual generic self-introduction of himself as a Columbia native who had distinguished himself as an Army officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He didn’t really tailor his spiel to this event.
  • Irwin Wilson — Says he would make sure the city employees charged with keeping air and water clean did their jobs. Far as trees were concerned, he said “Where I’m from, we cut down trees for heat.” But he’s for replenishing them.
  • Steve Morrison — Had the most programmatic opening, ticking off several priorities if elected: Clean water (dealing with stormwater and sewer water); green economic development; mass transit; sustainable energy and green buildings; trees and walkable streets.

That’s all for now. I’m going to go eat grab a few minutes of downtime before hitting the sack.


6 thoughts on “Columbia mayoral candidates on sustainability

  1. Aaron Johnson

    I’m going more for Jack Benny, but Groucho is the highest compliment I can think of. Thank you.

    But seriously, folks… I do really care about sustainability and we will be having a rally for public transportation at the State House on Saturday at 2pm. You can learn more at our website,

    Great job covering ALL the candidates, unlike your colleague at the State.

  2. Brad Warthen

    That was my Jack Benny impersonation.

    Welcome to the blog, Aaron. One of my frustrations is that we don’t get enough of the newsmakers we comment on commenting back, so I’m always happy when someone breaks with that trend.

  3. Susan

    Did anyone else get flyers in the mail today for Kirkman Finlay and for Kevin Fisher? The one from Kirkman Finlay (expectedly) emphasized his desire to make sure Columbia manages its money better (complete with a spreadsheet, of course). Seemed pretty clear, and explained what he’s about.

    The one from Kevin Fisher (running for Finlay’s council seat in District 4) had a small logo that said “Fisher Fiscal Responsibility City Council” on one side, but the other side was covered with pictures of him and his daughter in exotic locations on vacation, complete with captions like “On safari in Africa” and “Sailing in the Greek Isles”.

    I have not formed an opinion yet on whether Fisher’s someone I would vote for or not – but if all I have to go on is this flyer, he’s not giving me that “your money’s safe with me” feeling that Finlay did.

    Which made me wonder, why would a candidate send out a flyer like this? Any ideas?

  4. bud

    I don’t live in Columbia but if I did I’d be a one issue voter. The folks who push for railroad relocation get the nod from me.


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