Columbia’s outgoing mayor is leaving office on Monday afternoon, after serving two terms. Mayor Brian Treece tells 939 the Eagle that in his six years, he’s most proud of a change in attitude to have a government and an economy that works for everyone.
“We put the brakes on downtown development so that our zoning code could catch up. We’ve created thousands of new jobs, good-paying career-making jobs you know at Swift Meats and Aurora Dairy and I mean just all over our high-tech manufacturing corridor,” Treece says.
Mayor Treece says that when he announced his candidacy in 2015, Columbia’s oldest buildings were being torn down to build the city’s tallest buildings … and ratepayers were being asked to fund that infrastructure.
Treece, who was elected in 2016, served two three-year terms. He decided against a re-election bid. He says it’s been his privilege and honor to serve, and thanks the voters and citizens of Columbia for the opportunity.
“And I’m proud of everything our community has accomplished together, from protecting jobs and the economy to keeping our community safe to great infrastructure projects like the (Columbia) Farmers Market, a cross country course, the Rocheport bridge, a new airport terminal,” says Treece.
Mayor Treece signed his name in December on the final beam of the $23-million new terminal being built at Columbia Regional Airport (COU). It’s expected to open around Labor Day.
While Treece is proud of those accomplishments, he also has some disappointments. He’s disappointed that the city council didn’t act faster on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
“We were all affected by that pandemic and for two years our community was on hold while we protected our economy thanks to great employers that distributed their workforce. And we continue to have one of the lowest unemployment rates,” Treece says.
President Joe Biden signed ARPA in 2021, and Columbia will receive about $25.2 million in ARPA funding. Mayor Treece tells 939 the Eagle that he’s learned as mayor not to lead faster than the community or staff can follow.
During a ten-minute interview with the Eagle, we also asked Mayor Treece about recent violence in the city, especially around McKee street. 15-year-old Aubrey Doxley was shot to death in February while sleeping in her bed at her home on McKee street in February, and one person suffered life-threatening injuries last Saturday during a drive-by shooting in broad daylight near McKee street park.
While the mayor cannot discuss specific cases, he notes he worked with Governor Mike Parson (R) and the mayors of Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield for a bipartisan increase in funding for witness protection in 2020. Treece is also critical of the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA), saying we have one hand tied behind our back because of it. Treece says SAPA prevents out local law enforcement community from working with federal officials to prosecute those under federal law with tougher sentencing guidelines.
Mayor Treece also says he was proud to work with former city manager John Glascock during the pandemic, and says Columbia is in good hands with new city manager De’Carlon Seewood. Mr. Seewood is the city’s first African-American city manager, and Treece cites Seewood’s qualifications and his experience in Fulton and Ferguson.
Treece says Mr. Seewood never puts himself first, and praises his calm demeanor. Treece says while Columbia will continue to deal with crisis and challenges, Seewood will handle those challenges with his quiet dignity and integrity.
Click here to listen to the full interview between 939 the Eagle’s Brian Hauswirth and Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, which was recorded on April 11, 2022: