By Clint Confehr
COLUMBIA, TN — With a margin of less than half a percent, this city’s first African American vice mayor was re-elected recently when a new mayor was elected with a wide margin.
Vice Mayor Dr. Christa Martin, Columbia State Community College’s assistant to the president for access and diversity, bested Councilman Steve Boshers; 5,544 to 5,506, approximately 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.
Boshers conceded election night. He has two more years on the council.
Mayor-elect Chaz Molder won with 7,296 votes (64%) over two-term incumbent Dean Dickey’s 3,985 votes. Swearing-in is in January.
“Our campaign strategy started in the early part of the year,” Martin said. “We looked at every option to connect with the voters.”
Columbia, she said, should build community and be a destination for all people.
“That takes work because the folk coming here are not necessarily like folk who are here,” Martin said. “We’ve got to have leadership that understands people’s cultures are different.”
Public Square events attract crowds and, “There have been major investments down here,” she said. “We’ve got to get parking taken care of …
“We’ve got to get something done about our Columbia Mall,” Martin said of empty retail space in one building in this town of 38,266 people. “We have to have organizations that are willing to come to the table and look at new possibilities for cities our size.”
Meanwhile, Columbia is posting historic markers, expanding parks, recruiting new business and looking for jobs that pay a living wage, she said. A hotel is being developed at the intersection of a road north to Spring Hill and another east to Interstate 65.
The city cares for existing businesses, and wants environmentally friendly industry, she said. Bridge maintenance and road modification are also needed.
While campaigning, Martin told residents, “Your vote is your voice,” adding local government is closest to people. “We’re the ones who make sure that the services you need are there for you.”
Nearly 33,000 Maury County residents voted Nov. 6. Gov.-elect Bill Lee received 21,293 county votes over Karl Dean’s 11,148 votes here. Congressman Marsha Blackburn won more U.S. Senate race votes (19,565 here) than Phil Bredesen’s 12,559 here. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was re-elected (14,754 to 7,897 here) over Mariah Phillips. Dr. Mark Green was elected to succeed Blackburn in the House (5,128 over 2,774 here) over Justin Kanew. Republican Scott Cepicky will succeed state Rep. Shiela Butt (R-Columbia) with 16,4129 votes over A.J. Holmes’ 9,145. In 2016, President Trump got 67 percent of this county’s votes.