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Columbia City Hall (2021 file photo courtesy of city of Columbia)

(AUDIO): New Columbia city councilmen take office and vow to be accessible

Columbia City Hall (2021 file photo courtesy of city of Columbia)

Columbia’s newly-elected city council members are pledging to be accessible to their constituents.

First Ward councilman Nick Knoth and Fifth Ward councilman Donald Waterman received the oath of office on Friday. Councilman Knoth is excited.

“It’s a real privilege to do this. What I’ve told people is this seat is not about me, it’s about the ward. It’s about representing the neighborhoods and families in my ward, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Knoth tells 939 the Eagle.

Councilman Knoth replaces Councilwoman Pat Fowler, who ended her campaign this spring to care for her ailing stepmother. Fowler delivered a passionate farewell address at city hall on Friday afternoon, saying climate change, city employee pay, utility rates and affordable housing are some of the issues that the city must address in the future.

As for Councilman Knoth, he says infrastructure continues to be a key issue in the first ward.

“And that’s a very wide spectrum there. Everything from wastewater and sewer to our roads and sidewalks and bicycles and pedestrians, all of it,” Knoth says.

Meantime, Columbia’s new fifth ward city councilman is pledging to listen to constituents and to be accountable and accessible to them. Councilman Donald Waterman was sworn-in on Friday afternoon at city hall.

“Because I believe in it because everybody … you know, it was a close race (58 votes), so obviously it was no mandate, and I represent everybody in the ward,” says Councilman Waterman.

One of Waterman’s priorities is the completion of voter-approved improvements on Forum Boulevard between Chapel Hill and Woodrail. Columbia voters approved the $12.7 million project in 2015. Improvements will include widening Forum with an additional lane in each direction, and the construction of sidewalks and bike lanes. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2025.

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe appointed Second ward city councilwoman Andrea Waner as mayor pro tem, with no objections from the council.

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