COLUMBIA – They are a business owner, public health researcher, lawyer, activist, photographer, lobbyist and government watchdog.
While some of the seven candidates vying for the general seat of Columbia City Council have already run for elected office, none have held one. Some have campaigned and raised funds since the start of the spring, while others have only recently applied to advance the August deadline.
Whatever the outcome a month from now, a new political face will take over from a seat occupied for nearly 20 years by Tameika Isaac Devine, who is leaving his seat across the city open to run for mayor. While the mayor’s office is the most high-profile race – with Devine running against fellow council member Daniel Rickenmann, former city councilor Moe Baddourah and former assistant mayor Sam Johnson – the general seat also represents the entire city and has a voice on the council.
The seat is one of four council members who may have a new face in 2022. In addition to the mayor and others, the District 1 seat representing British Columbia and the District 4 seat in Rickenmann representing the wards in east of downtown are also on the rise.
Lawyer Tina Herbert runs against nonprofit leader Christa Williams in District 1 race, while former state commerce chief Joe Taylor has no opposition for district 4 headquarters.
Lawyer Tyler Bailey, business owner and project leader Heather Bauer, public health researcher Aditi Bussells, government watchdog John Crangle, environmental lobbyist Deitra Matthews, photographer Aaron Smalls and community activist John Tyler will be on the ballot.
One month from the end, the field of largely political newcomers is trying to distinguish itself.
Bussells, who has a doctorate in public health, is a research director for Children’s Trust of South Carolina, a state-wide nonprofit that focuses on preventing child abuse. She said it was the COVID-19 pandemic that initially drove her to run and that she would bring a data-driven approach to problem solving and understanding the challenges facing Columbia’s children and families. .
She touts the support of hundreds of campaign donors across the political spectrum and said she heard from voters concerned about the continuing resumption of the pandemic for small businesses, public safety concerns, and road and sewer infrastructure.
“I think generally what I have continued to hear and why I think our campaign has worked so well is that people want someone who is a complete political underdog at the table, who won’t be afraid to make tough decisions, ”Bussells said.
With $ 63,812 raised in the last quarterly campaign filing in July, Bussells dominated the field in general. The next deposits of candidates are expected on October 10.
Bailey, who runs his own Columbia law firm, is also running for his first elected post. He too is presenting himself as a candidate who does not represent the status quo, claiming that his background as a business owner, father and husband makes him accessible to voters.
Bailey has also been among the best in fundraising, raising $ 55,855 in his last quarterly deposit in July. Bailey said he would announce some of his campaign sponsors in the coming weeks.
“I received a lot of diverse support across town,” Bailey said. “I am optimistic about this and the energy behind the need for change to move Columbia forward.”
Bauer, who lives in the Rosewood area, touted her previous work in the community as a volunteer for several nonprofits, including as a longtime fighter with Palmetto Pride and as a business owner who endured the pandemic. Its gymnasium, Workhorse Fitness, is located near the Williams-Brice stadium.
She said her background makes her adept at solving complex problems. She said she has been speaking to residents since last year’s State House run and felt attuned to their concerns about affordable housing, food insecurity, community safety and desire drinking water.
Bauer garnered support from City Councilor General Howard Duvall, County Councilor Allison Terracio, State Representative Jermaine Johnson, and Soda City Market founder Emile DeFelice, among others. Bussells supporters include Coroner Naida Rutherford, former SC Democratic Party Chairman Carol Fowler, Forest Acres City Councilor John Barnes and Columbia businesswoman Sara Middleton, who ran unsuccessfully against Duvall in 2019.
“My approach with everything is to work with the community to make sure I understand how they view their community, and I think that really resonated with people,” Bauer said.
At a recent candidate forum hosted by the Columbia Urban League Young Professionals, Matthews praised his experience in government relations and working with state and federal decision makers. She also used her experience as a former teacher who listens to the needs of children and families.
“I know deeply what governance looks like,” she said.
Matthews announced support for the group she lobbies for, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, as well as neighborhood leaders and business owners, including Booker Washington Heights Neighborhood President Regina Williams and Historic Waverly President Frank Houston.
Smalls, a photographer who documented the protests in Colombia that followed George Floyd’s murder by the Minnesota police, said during the forum that experience had shown him that the police appeared to operate outside of appropriate policies and that there was a lack of accountability of elected officials in the city council.
Tyler has the support of his nonprofit, One Common Cause Community Initiative, which has spearheaded social justice protests and other community events in recent years. He said he was dedicated to listening to residents, taking public transportation, mingling with the crowds and learning about the needs people face.
“Do you want them to sit in certain buildings to delegate orders, or do you want them to have their sleeves rolled up with you to solve the solutions to these problems? Tyler said while introducing himself at a recent forum. “I am that candidate. A vote for me is a vote for the people.”
Crangle, who has lived in Colombia for more than four decades and has denounced corruption among state lawmakers, said he would advocate for a stronger lobbying effort by the city for state and federal resources. He also praised the strength of the free field.
“I was impressed with the knowledge and intensity of all of the applicants,” Crangle told the Urban League forum. “I think everyone sitting here could handle the job of city council very effectively.”