COLUMBIA City Council District 3 runoff opponents Moe Baddourah and Daniel Coble are solid candidates who share common priorities, from focusing on district needs to improving public safety and providing long-term funding for the public bus system.
They also share a common drawback: We fear their strong focus on constituent and district needs could lead them to put those interests ahead of more important citywide issues.
While the two men are pretty even in many ways, Mr. Coble does distinguish himself as the better candidate. His knowledge and understanding of city issues and how government works stood out among all candidates in the just-concluded council races.
No doubt the son of former mayor Bob Coble developed an interest in politics and government in part because of his father’s service. Some might even say that public service is in his DNA. But more than that, it’s quite clear that, along the way, Daniel Coble developed a deep affinity for the city of Columbia and wants to serve.
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We don’t agree with Mr. Coble on some key issues, such as using tax-increment-financing districts to pay for improvements in targeted areas such as Bull Street and north Columbia.
Mr. Baddourah, on the other hand, is wisely reluctant to embrace TIFs and is committed to ending the city’s practice of transferring money from its water and sewer fund to the general fund. He likely would bring a more fiscally conservative approach that would provide some needed balance on the council. And he impressed us with his intriguingly obvious but heretofore unconsidered proposal to extend Columbia’s utility franchise fee countywide to fund the bus system instead of adding to the already-too-high sales tax.
But Mr. Coble holds certain principles and values about governing that we believe would serve the city well.
Of all the candidates in this year’s races, he’s the one who expressed the most support for strong mayor. He said he would not only vote to put the matter on the ballot, but would actively support the change. “I think the city is absolutely ready, and I think the sooner the better,” he said.
In addition, it’s evident that Mr. Coble thinks things through. For example, while others pledged to end the water-fund transfers, he argued that stopping cold-turkey would be too big a jolt to the city’s fiscal system. Instead, he said, it should be phased out over time. We agree the best route is to wean the city off the transfers, but it should not be a protracted process.
We hope Mr. Coble’s thoughtfulness and his pledge to listen to and work with others will help reshape his position on such issues as TIFs, which siphon new tax dollars away from basic services; he has said the special tax districts must not be too large or last too long, although he hasn’t ruled them out.
And in his zeal to help preserve and develop neighborhoods and move the city forward, Mr. Coble must not overlook the need for responsible, prudent fiscal decision-making in a city that has struggled with finances. That added element would make the soon-to-be law school graduate, who already has lots of potential, a more effective representative.
On Tuesday, District 3 voters should elect Daniel Coble.