Barbara Buffaloe

  • Photo By Sadie Thibodeaux

Candidate for Mayor of Columbia

Job description

I am currently running for mayor of Columbia because I love this community. As a candidate for mayor, the job right now involves a lot of meeting with community stakeholders and finding out from them what the important issues are facing our community. Talking to people about the city we all hold dear to our hearts is kind of my jam, and I love meeting new people. 

Professional background

I had the privilege of serving as the City of Columbia’s first sustainability manager. (And  I was a 2016 20 under 40 recipient!) As sustainability manager, I was responsible for integrating short- and long-term comprehensive action plans, resource conservation, and programs and operations that advanced a more sustainable, vital, and well-planned future for Columbia. I am a current board member, and former co-chair, of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a peer-to-peer network of local government professionals from over 180 global cities dedicated to creating a healthier environment, economic prosperity, and increased social equity.

Hometown

Springfield, Illinois.

Years lived in Columbia

22.

Quote you live by

Former city manager Bill Watkins passed out this quote from President Harry Truman to department directors: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” This was a guiding statement for me because, as a civil servant and, hopefully, future mayor, it reminds me that the decisions we make today are not about us — they’re about the people we serve.

Favorite volunteer/community activity

I recently volunteered with my Rotary club at Voluntary Action Center’s Holiday Program. It’s an amazing program that matches sponsors with more than 1,000 families in Boone County. Families receive gifts, toys, clothing, and household supplies for the holidays. It was amazing to see the amount of love our community has for those in need.

A Columbia businessperson you admire and why

I think Susan Hart is the most dedicated person in Columbia. She volunteers her time on so many boards and committees, all while being a mentor, a mom, and a partner. We’re lucky to have her in Columbia.

Why you are passionate about service

I believe that if we want to see positive changes in our community, then we have to step up and make them happen. 

Why you’re passionate about your community

As one of the fastest growing cities in Missouri — one that attracts new businesses and talent every year — we can see that people want to be here. With forward-thinking leadership and a vision for where we should go, Columbia can be the Future City of Missouri. We need a mayor and city council that will lead us there.

If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would

Oh gosh, I kind of tried retirement for a few months and I was not good at it. I’m meant to do civil service!

What people should know about your profession

It is hard to serve in public office right now, and we’ve all seen that people are not being the best versions of themselves. The best elected officials are the ones that are actively gathering the best ideas from a lot of viewpoints and working to improve the community for our present and future generations. 

Greatest strength 

I am approachable — I welcome conversations with pretty much anyone and love getting to know new people. This probably leads to what my kids would say my greatest weakness is.

Greatest weakness 

My kids would say it takes me too long to leave somewhere because I want to continue talking with people. 

The next challenge facing Columbia

Bringing differing viewpoints together to address workforce housing, racial disparities, and how we want Columbia to grow into the future. It’s going to take someone with the experience of bringing people together with a vision of where we should be going.

Your next professional goal

To be the next mayor of Columbia!

Biggest lesson learned in local government

The decisions you’re making today are really for future generations. There might be some decisions made that will have an immediate impact, but the majority are for your children and grandchildren, and it is our responsibility to take that into consideration when acting today.

How you want to impact the Columbia community 

We need someone listening and really putting their heart out there to do the work and lead Columbia to be a place that all can appreciate. We grow together.

What you do for fun 

I love watching cooking shows (especially the Great British Baking Show), riding my bike, hiking with family and friends, teaching and taking Pilates classes, and eating and shopping at local restaurants and stores.

Family 

My husband, Luke, is a family medicine doctor at MU. Together we’re raising two little Buffaloes, Eleanor (11) and Benjamin (9), who are just awesome. 

Favorite place in Columbia 

Most places downtown in The District. You’ll find us riding our bikes to Uprise Bakery for breakfast, Café Berlin for lunch, and Kampai for dinner. 

Accomplishment you are most proud of 

My kids inspire me daily with their curiosity and thoughtfulness towards their friends, neighbors, and planet. 

Most people don’t know that you

I was a diver in high school and can still do flips on the diving board and trampoline. 

The January issue is always dedicated to revealing the new 20 under 40 class as well as providing updates on what the alumni are doing. Barbara was selected for PYSK as a 20 under 40 Alumni before the mayoral race became what it is now. Due to providing her this space in this issue, we will be giving equal space to the other four mayoral candidates in the February issue. COMO Magazine is not and will not be endorsing any candidate in the upcoming elections.

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