City Council Member, Mayor: “Let’s move forward”

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Columbia, S.C.  (WOLO)  —  A day after ‘strong mayor’ fails, elected officials claim they are ready to move forward.

Columbia mayor, Steve Benjamin, did not get the birthday present he wanted, a mayor-council, or strong mayor, form of government.

“You take the hand you’re dealt,” said Benjamin.

Close personal friend, fellow council member and outspoken opponent of strong mayor, Tameika Isaac Devine, however, did.

“Council-manager is most representative form of government, and the citizens agreed last night,” said Devine.

Over 11,500 voters went to the polls in Columbia’s first single-issue referendum in recent memory.
At issue in the heated debate was whether to change the way city government has operated for over 60 years to a method giving more executive power to an elected mayor. Fifty-seven to forty-three percent chose to keep things as they are.

Now, say both Benjamin and Devine, it’s on to what happens next.

The vision remains real,” said the mayor.  “It will take a little longer, we’ll have to work harder, but we will make it real.”

“Now this issue is behind us and resolved, we can focus on what we were elected to do,” said Devine.  “That’s what the citizens want us to do.”

Benjamin says he is “excited about the next four years.”

Columbia city council has one meeting left before the end of the year. All seven members, including the mayor, will begin new terms January first, with a meeting to discuss how to move the city forward. Meanwhile, Mayor Steve Benjamin can look forward to a council-approved pay increase from $17,500 dollars to $75,000 dollars beginning July first. 

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