Ward selected to fill empty Jefferson City council seat

The Jefferson City Council on Monday night chose Laura Ward to fill a vacant Second Ward seat.

Jefferson City's newest city council member took her seat Monday night after winning a vote by the rest of the council.

Laura Ward was chosen to succeed Second Ward councilman Shawn Shulte, who stepped down in May after he moved to a new house in a different ward. The council chose Ward over Carolyn McDowell by a 6-3 vote and swore her in as soon as the vote was complete. Within minutes, Ward cast her first vote, in favor of turning some property over to MoDOT as part of the Lafayette Street interchange project.

Ward told KRCG 13 afterward she was grateful for the council's support and ready to get to work. She said maintaining the city's public transit system would be her top priority and suggested the city look into changing bus routes. In addition, she said she wants to promote the city's core, which makes up the bulk of her ward, as a place to bring new businesses. She also said the city needed to crack down on owners of abandoned properties.

"I think we need to look into creative ways to work with those property owners," she said, suggesting negotiations over ownership transfers.

Shulte's unfinished term runs until April 2015. Ward said she already plans to run for a two-year council term of her own at that time.