Incumbent candidate Clyde Ruffin was re-elected to the First Ward Columbia City Council seat by taking 41 percent of the votes cast Tuesday.
The other two candidates, MU senior Andrew Hutchinson and Pat Kelley, co-founder of the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, received 352 and 319 votes respectively. Voter turnout in the First Ward was 1,146 votes, compared with the Fifth Ward's 2,537. It also showed a significant decrease from 1,383 votes cast in the 2015 municipal election.
As chair of MU's Theatre Department and senior pastor at the Second Missionary Baptist Church, Ruffin first joined the City Council after former councilmember Ginny Chadwick resigned in 2015. Ruffin watched the results come in at a private gathering with family and volunteers Tuesday. His opponents both had public watch parties.
Hutchinson, 21, is a senior studying history and sociology at MU. He grew up in the south side of Columbia but started living in the First Ward after being admitted to MU. He said since the First Ward is the most diverse area in the city, tackling social justice issues including affordable housing and community policing is important.
“You have the most impoverished people living in the first ward, but you also have these businesses that generate an incredible amount of money in downtown,” Hutchinson said. “It’s the symbol of Colombia's prosperity but also the symbol of our greatest social and equity as well.”
Pat Kelley has been living in the First Ward since 1988 and became a community leader by co-founding the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association. Despite being disappointed, Kelley said she would still be involved in the City Council to solve issues like citizen engagement, housing and homelessness through the network that she has developed during the campaign.
“There are all kinds of ways you can get things done with one of them being on the City Council, but that’s not the only way,” Kelley said. “One of the wonderful things about the campaign is expanding the neighborhood to meet with other people who are really interested in these issues.”