Matt Pitzer won the contested Columbia City Council seat to represent the 5th Ward in Tuesday’s election. He won with 57 percent of the vote, with his opponent Arthur Jago pulling in the remaining 43 percent in the two-way race.
Gathered in back room of Sophia’s restaurant in southeast Columbia for a watch party, Pitzer was surrounded with friends and family as the votes tallied. As the night progressed, the crowd of approximately 30 people doubled and outgrew the designated watch area. Surprised by the early finalization, Pitzer make a victory speech around 8:45 p.m. with his wife, Kate, and his two boys, Jimmy, 12, and Evan, 6, by his side.
“I am looking forward to helping the city make the types of decisions that will ensure Columbia remains a vibrant and dynamic city,” Pitzer said. “It’s a wonderful city and there are a lot of people here for a lot of different reasons... It ensures the quality of life here and it attracts different investment and growth. We need to make sure Columbia remains unique, preserve and protect all the things that makes Columbia unique.”
Pitzer, a newcomer to public office, works as a portfolio manager for Shelter Insurance. Due to his background in finance, Pitzer believes he will help the council make fiscally responsible decisions.
“I think we can really make sure we are prioritizing the right resources in the budget, allocating our funds properly,” Pitzer said. “If that means increasing the funding for police or fire, that is certainly something the citizens are demanding and something they want. As the city begins to grow, we need to make sure we are allocating the right level of resources to these services.”
Columbia Resident Wayne Hawks supported Pitzer partially because of this experience.
“Pitzer is perfect for the job because he understands money. He is fiscally responsible, strong and suitable for the job,” Hawks said.
Throughout the campaign, citizens of the Fifth Ward have voiced concerns about infrastructure and public safety. These are issues Pitzer directly addressed in the campaign and reiterated on Tuesday night.
“I think it is really important that the city follows through with the promises it has made to its citizens,” Pitzer said. “Voters clearly want improvements in infrastructure. There are projects on Nifong and Forum Boulevard and I think it is really important I continue to advocate for them and we do what we have told the voters we are going to do.”
In his victory speech, Pitzer mentioned the amount of time and effort his campaign took to converse with constituents.
“I most enjoyed to the time he took listening to everyone and I am excited for what he will do as a member of the council,” Robin Wenneker, Columbia resident said.
Previously the seat was filled for 10 years by Laura Nauser, who decided not to run for re-election. Pitzer cited Nauser as a source of support.
“I was able to sit down with her several times and she, obviously, has a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise on city government and city council,” Pitzer said.