Karl Skala and Gary Kespohl are very familiar with each other.
Both are squaring off for the Third Ward Council seat of Columbia.
However, this will be the third time in the last three elections they have gone against each other.
The Incumbent Kespohl will take on Skala, Third Ward Council Member from 2007-2010.
“He and I are cordial to one another. We’re not mortal enemies. I mean I speak to him when I see him. I shake his hand. Sometimes he avoids me somewhat. That’s fine, I mean I understand where he’s coming from,” Kespohl said.
Skala may still be bitter towards Kespohl’s advertisement in the 2010 Third Ward Councilman race.
“I did not appreciate in 2010 the tone of his campaign. It was a very personal campaign. I have no intention of making it personal. But I do intend of making the issues salient and being aggressive with them. It’s an issue oriented campaign,” Skala said.
Kespohl’s radio advertisement claimed Skala spent more than $16 thousand of city money on himself during his term -taking trips, staying in hotels and eating high priced food.
“Some folks thought that was a negative ad campaign. To me it’s factual. People needed to know that was going on and let them decide what to do about it. And I think they did. That’s what turned the election I believe,” Kespohl said.
Despite all the drama, Skala believes there is no rivalry.
“I don’t think there’s a rivalry. I fundamentally disagree with Gary in terms of where he’s coming from,” Skala said.
Surprisingly enough, Kespohl can agree with his opponent on that.
“You know it’s not a rivalry. He feels pretty passionately about the city council position, so do I. He and I disagree on a lot of things,” Kespohl said.
Kespohl is definitely correct. There are many main issues that both candidates do not see eye to eye on.
Skala is a member of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission. He feels Kespohl did not do anything to help with the high density student housing on College Avenue. Skala stated the city council provided the developer with a lot of privileges to build student housing, but very few responsibilities such as providing parking and sewer infrastructure.
“Mr. Kespohl has all of the sudden discovered planning and yet he has very few planning credentials. He has said publicly that there are a lot of plans on the shelf that are never used…It doesn’t help to accuse, for example, the Planning and Zoning Commission, of not following through…if the city ignores the Planning and Zoning Commission ,” Skala said.
Kespohl does not like the developing plans of Skala. He said Skala’s infrastructure views are going to hurt the economy. For example, Kespohl stated if someone wanted to build a church in Columbia, they would have to put up $800 thousand in impact fees before they started building.
“Who’s going to pay those impact fees to the city to put this infrastructure in? I think what’ll happen is they‘ll all go just across the line into the county to put their development in. So, we’re driving development out of Columbia, adding to sprawl, adding to putting in more infrastructure to get to them,” Kespohl said.
Skala stated he wants to focus on the businesses already settled in the city instead of looking bringing them in.
“I favor relying on retention of existing businesses and entrepreneurship and not banking on attracting large businesses,” Skala said.
Kespohl believes bringing businesses into Columbia will help the economy.
“I want to come up with some system to entice manufacturing and people who want to open businesses in Columbia to come to Columbia,” Kespohl said.
The rubber match will be decided on April 2nd, when voting for the third Ward Council seat begins.