(Editor’s note: While The State Opinion page will not make endorsements in the Nov. 5 Columbia City Council races, we have asked all of the candidates to provide replies to a candidate questionnaire.)
Name: Will Brennan (District 3 candidate).
1. Please provide some brief biographical information — including some detail on why you are running for this office.
Columbia is my hometown, giving me a unique historic perspective that shapes my innovative view of how our city can reach its true potential.
I am married to Lauren, who is a speech and language pathologist.
We have two children: a 4-year-old daughter, Thompson, and Joseph (who was born this spring).
I started and run my own business, BrennanWorks, which is a nationally-awarded design firm that focuses on historic revitalization and adaptive reuse projects.
I have been an active volunteer and board member for a number of local organizations and charities where I have learned to serve collaboratively with others to produce positive results.
These experiences have prepared me to be the most-qualified candidate to serve in this office.
2. What are the three biggest issues facing the city?
1. Crime must be addressed and I will NOT cut public safety budgets. Our police and first responders risk their lives for us every day, and they need to know that they will always be a priority. The needs of their departments should be funded first, particularly in regard to retention and recruitment.
2. Finding improved ways to distribute city revenue streams — in order to fund existing programs and services — is an issue that needs to be addressed.
There are three major ways to accomplish this outcome.
First, we need to energize our economic development to bring in more businesses and jobs that come along with business enterprises. Second, we must improve the city’s public-private partnerships that boost revenue in conjunction with the nonprofit entities. Third, we need to continue to facilitate increased revitalization and adaptive use projects where abandoned space in the inner city is turned into residential homes.
3. Fiscal integrity and public perception surrounding the budget process needs restored. Columbia spends a large amount of money in any given budget cycle, but behind closed doors it appears that money can shift to other projects during the year. The public should know where its tax dollars are going at all times.
3. What are the three biggest issues facing your district?
* Sidewalks are a major problem. Over the years tree roots, settling and shifting have made sidewalks uneven often times to the point where families cannot even push a stroller along the route. It also creates a hazard in that our seniors can easily trip as they navigate down their blocks. This problem needs to be rectified.
* Five Points borders on District 3 and there are a number of transitional issues that require a coordinated effort to solve. I will work together with the mayor and City Council to bring together the Business District and the surrounding communities for a sustainable, consensus solution.
* A third major concern for District 3 is that the neighborhoods east of Interstate 77 can no longer be seen as the forgotten citizens.
4. At the end of your term, what is one major accomplishment you want to be able to point to as your crowning achievement — a policy change, local project, etc. that you played a major role in bringing about?
The creation of a special River Development Commission that promotes and develops eco-friendly activities, attractions and events along the river in order to attract visitors and investment to Columbia.
5. What do you want your legacy to be as a public official?
I desire for my legacy to be that I facilitated accomplishments. We must complete projects we start and be upfront with citizens about who benefits from investments. Far too often the powers-to-be start working on a problem but they never finish it. That stops with me.