Welcome to Election Alert. In two weeks from today, the elections will officially begin. This weekly newsletter is meant to give you the information you need so you can use the power of your vote. In this week’s edition, you’ll find more information on local accessibility issues, as well as all important election updates.
Accessibility at Columbia Schools
Last week, school board candidates participated in a forum organized by the Columbia Disability Issues Coalition. Two seats are open on the seven-seat council in the April 5 election.
A hot topic of this forum was school inclusion and its importance. All candidates were very committed to inclusion, sharing many personal experiences and explaining why they are passionate about this issue.
When asked to discuss action plans for improving the 504 and IEP plans, candidates had similar responses. Waters stressed the importance of keeping the welfare of the child at the center of the conversation. Burks pointed out how confusing the accommodation request process is and how it can be simplified. Lisenby highlighted parents’ concerns about their children’s classroom experience, without any parental supervision, if their child cannot communicate about their day. Willoughby pointed to the legal hurdles teachers face in terms of “doing the right thing” for their students.
All of the candidates also acknowledged a problem with bullying.
Accessibility in the City of Columbia
The mayoral candidates also attended the Columbia Disability Coalition forum last week. Their conversations focused primarily on recognizing issues and sharing action plans on accessibility issues around Columbia.
Barbara Buffaloe acknowledged that the root of the problem is in Columbia’s infrastructure. David Seamon specifically mentioned the difficulty of planning paratransit trips and the 24-hour period it takes to organize the trip. Tanya Heath pointed to the extra time bus journeys take, which makes public transport unattractive and inconvenient.
The candidates also participated in a conversation about how Columbia police interact with people with disabilities. Seamon emphasized the importance of the specialized training that officers must receive when dealing with people with disabilities. Buffaloe pointed to the recognition of unconscious bias in the response of police and city employees.
Randy Minchew did not attend the forum.
For more information on the candidates and coverage so far, visit the Columbia Missourian Elections page or click on the links below.
The League of Women Voters will host a forum with mayoral and city council candidates from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on March 23 at the Columbia Public Library. Registration is required in advance for in-person attendance, but will also be available virtually with no registration requirements
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