Saturday, March 26, 2011

EYE CANDID: Pam Forbes for 1st Ward Columbia City Council

"Think in Pink" may describe this everyman/everywoman candidate
COLUMBIA, 3/26/11  (Beat Byte) --  In a documentary called It Takes People, about how grass roots organizers can change laws, Pam Forbes is listed as one of the stars.  
"Pam Forbes lives by herself and works at a factory in Columbia, Missouri," her bio on the movie's website reads.  "She joins the campaign, new to the group of women leaders, but quickly outshines all the volunteers, collecting thousands of signatures in multiple congressional districts while holding down a full-time job." 
The Columbia City Council First Ward candidate makes other appearances online as an advocate for various programs, both in the First Ward and the city generally. 
"Pam Forbes, an employee of Square D and a member of CAT TV...commented that people were overjoyed with the opportunities offered to them by CAT TV," Forbes said to Columbia City Council members in 2005 about funding for long-suffering Community Access Television.  "She urged the Council to continue the funding."
The following year, Forbes was asking Council members to support Rev. Lorenzo Lawson's Youth Empowerment Program.  "Pam Forbes, 707 Donnelly, stated she met Mr. Lawson last summer and believed his program could and would bless this community if it was funded in a generous way."
"Think in pink" might describe how Forbes kicked off her First Ward Columbia City Council candidacy as a voice of the common man and woman.   A toolmaker and Grass Roots Organizing board member, she brought along a trademark pink stool she said represents her willingness to sit down and listen.
"I have a clear and detailed view of the Ward," Forbes told the Missourian

Perhaps moreso than the other candidates, Forbes has latched onto two issues -- sagging First Ward infrastructure and dilapidated housing -- that aren't glamorous, but may represent the biggest problems facing residents in neighborhoods that have never entirely recovered from official segregation. 
"Being on the Community Development Commission, we have been looking at housing in the First Ward and there’s a lot of dilapidation and vacant houses," Forbes told the MU Maneater.  "The city’s actually rehabbing some now, but we really have to take care of that. We’ve neglected it for so long."

In most cities, dilapidated housing follows crumbling public infrastructure.  After all, bad streets, sidewalks, storm drainage and sewers can be insurmountable barriers to property value appreciation, bank lending, and good housekeeping. 
But infrastructure isn't just streets and sidewalks.  It's virtually any publicly-available service, from law enforcement and fire protection to public transportation. 
"I think we need more public transportation, and it needs to go to places where people work," Forbes told the Missourian WatchWord.  "We need to have buses that go to places where people work and give them access to getting jobs."

At candidate forums, Forbes has emphasized her everywoman perspective.  "Forbes said she would bring a practical approach to budgeting that she gained managing her family’s expenses," the
Columbia Business Times reported.   "I had to restrict things we did in order to meet grocery bills and utility bills," she said.

As a GRO member, Forbes also supports a Taser ban and police department reforms, particularly in the SWAT units.  "I support a police force that uses patience and doesn’t institute violence in situations where no violence exists,"
she told the Columbia Tribune
Still thinking in pink, Forbes wore a pink hat and scarf at this week's NAACP forum -- not enough room at the crowded candidate table for a pink stool.   In her characteristic soft-spoken tones, she addressed a standing-room-only crowd about investigating contaminated soil on a city street project, and the need for City Hall to enforce rules when and where they matter.

"We need to hold the city to its own rules," she said, in answer to a question about minority contracting.   "There are rules connected to minority contracts, and I’ve been told the city just lets them go." 

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