There are three contested races for City of Columbia offices in the municipal election April 6. In addition to mayor, two aldermanic seats are contested.
In Columbia’s Ward I, incumbent James Agne is going up against Doug Garmer.
James Agne, 77, is the incumbent in the aldermanic contest for Ward I. Agne graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois and was the senior project architect and vice president of HOK Architects, St. Louis.
Agne and his late wife, Carolyn, raised two sons, John and James A.W. Agne, both graduates of Columbia High School.
Agne is a member of St. Paul United Church of Christ – Columbia, American Institute of Architects and National Trust for Historical Preservation, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
As alderman, Agne wants to continue to “serve the citizens of Columbia and help them with their concerns and problems” and to “establish policy that will benefit their lives.”
He sees a key issue as “growth” and plans to maintain “high-quality growth for Columbia, both commercial and residential” in order to “offset the real estate tax burden” current residents face.
Agne also sees adherence to the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances as key issues in addition to flood management and planning.
Agne said that his stands out from his opponent based on his “qualifications and experience in serving people of Columbia and the city’s development for 44 years – 20 as a member of the Columbia Plan Commission and 24 on the Columbia City Council.”
Doug Garmer is Agne’s challenger for the Ward I seat. Garmer has been Columbia Plan Commission Chairman since 2020, a group he was appointed to in 2017.
Garmer earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Webster University. He retired in 2019 from AT&T where he worked as a senior manager, holding various positions in customer service, network, information technology and corporate security. He recently earned chancellor’s certificates in both planning and zoning and economic development from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.
Garmer also served as vice president of the Employee Resource Group for the Missouri Veterans, St. Louis/Metro East Chapter from 2017-2019 and has held several position with Human Support Services in Waterloo and is currently the finance committee chairman.
He is also a member of Faith Lutheran Church – Columbia (formerly in Oakville, Mo.) for 20 years and has been an elder at the Columbia campus for the last five years.
“I would like to help intelligently guide Columbia into the future, with a respectful eye on its past, in order to maintain our position as the crown jewel of Monroe County, if not the entire southwestern region of the state of Illinois,” Garmer gave as a reason for running.
“I believe Columbia is at a critical juncture in its growth and is poised for a blossoming of our city in a relatively short amount of time. I want to ensure we progress along a sound path of fiscal responsibility and resource accountability…combined with passionate citizen advocacy, especially with respect to a reduction of the residential tax burden whenever possible,” he continued.
“I am a newcomer to elected office and can bring a fresh perspective and ‘new set of eyes’ to the position of alderman,” Garmer concluded.