Columbia mayoral candidates present top priorities with less than a month of election
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – With less than a month to go until the November municipal election in the city of Columbia, candidates continue to present voters with their vision for the city for the future.
Each of them is focused on improving public safety and bringing business to Colombia, but they each have different ideas on how to do these things.
Asked about his main points on the agenda, city councilor Daniel Rickenmann did not hesitate: it is public safety and investment in the city.
âMy first inclination is to invest in the city,â he said. âWe need to remove the barriers so that we can really have an opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow. And when I say that, I’m really talking about working on our system so that there isn’t so much bureaucratic red tape.
Rickenmann enjoys the unwavering support of Colombia’s business community, including the Political Action Committee of the Central Carolina Realtors Association. He believes he has their support because his background in the business gives him the ability to recognize the “headaches and obstacles” that hold back small business owners, and says he knows how to solve them.
He said investments in public safety will include technology, equipment and training for police and firefighters, but also other areas.
âAlso sidewalks and streets and lighting which is another form of security for neighborhoods,â Rickenmann said. “We need to invest in our city so that we can benefit everyone, and that will also help us attract business, because the lifeblood of the economy is a clean and safe city.”
Sam Johnson detailed public health and public safety as his main agenda items. Former assistant to the current Columbia mayor, Steve Benjamin, said he aimed to immediately fill vacancies in the Columbia Police Department and Fire Department.
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âWe have to make sure that everyone in every community, no matter where you live in Colombia, you are safe,â Johnson said. âSo we will fill these vacancies immediately, we will make them a priority. We will ensure that every community, every neighborhood has the security it needs to live its life.
He also has a detailed plan to detain firefighters and police.
âWe have defined a 10-year contract, a contract that allows us to engage from the start of our employment with our police and firefighters where they know that from the start they will have a competitive salary base, the three years, five and eight, we’re going to make sure they get a raise and then we’re also going to make sure they get a retention bonus, âJohnson said.
It recently received support from the Columbia Firefighters Association. He thinks it’s because he has a relationship with firefighters built around trust and because he recognizes “the commitment they need from the mayor to do this job.”
Additionally, Johnson would establish a chief public health officer to help lead the city’s pandemic response.
City Councilor Tameika Isaac Devine, who received approval from Congressman Jim Clyburn on Monday, would install a director of diversity and inclusion to ensure crime prevention and infrastructure investments are made in a fair perspective.
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“This Director of Diversity and Inclusion will help me assess the needs in Colombia, those that have been affected by COVID but those that have existed in our community for so long, like the racial wealth gap and lack of affordable housing, âshe said.
Devine said his goal was to meet the needs of people where they are, both those severely affected by the pandemic and those suffering before the pandemic.
“It will be my priority, is that this person helps me in the community every day, listens to the needs, and then accesses these resources to meet those needs in a way that really takes people out of poverty,” she declared.
WIS contacted former District 3 City Councilor Moe Baddourah, but he was not available to be interviewed for this story. Its main problems include ending government corruption, improving city infrastructure, promoting relations between public security officers and the community, and eliminating business license fees for small businesses.
Baddourah also said he supports tax incentives for businesses that create jobs in the city.
Fundraising numbers for the third quarter have yet to be released, but Rickenmann has dominated fundraising in the first two quarters. In the second quarter, Rickenmann, Devine and Johnson – who tripled their fundraising total from the first quarter – raised six figures for the campaign’s fundraising.
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