RICKENMANN VS. DEVINE: Mayoral candidates debate at USC before runoff election
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — After last week’s mayoral election, two candidates now face off next week in a runoff election.
Daniel Rickemann took 44 percent of the votes and Tameika Isaac Devine received almost 30 percent.
“I know this city like the back of my hand. I know the richness in diversity in the city. I know the challenges of this city but I also know the opportunities,” said Devine, who currently serves as the at-large council member for the city of Columbia.
Both candidates spoke about three things they believe need to be worked on in order for Columbia to become a better city at a debate on USC’s campus Monday evening.
“Taxes is one, quality of life is huge, but having that skilled workforce is paramount,” Devine said. “If we don’t have a skilled workforce to meet the jobs, people are not going to come here.”
“It is high taxes. It is regulations and red tape that keeps businesses from growing and holding them back. The third thing is recruiting and settling,” said Rickenmann, who serves the city’s 4th district on city council.
Rickenmann says one thing that needs to improve in order to recruit new people to Columbia is the public school system.
“If we don’t have good schools, all the economic development changes we do and all the recruitment we do is not going to work,” he said.
Devine believes that Columbia needs more affordable housing.
“I know so many people who want to be in Columbia, but they can’t afford to be here,” she said.
Her opponent believes affordable housing needs to be in more than one area of the city and especially downtown.
Devine agrees with this but believes that it means more than just apartments or one specific area.
“Affordable housing is not just putting affordable housing in one area of the city and not just looking at rental but how do you run the gamut of affordable housing options,” the councilwoman said.
Both candidates also agree that public safety is also a huge issue.
“Every community in this town, it doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in, everyone says the same thing. Crime and safety are the biggest hurdles they want us to address,” Rickenmann said.
He believes that means recruiting and retaining a trained police force and showing officers support.
“Not only is that about financial support, but that’s making sure they have state of the art equipment,” Rickenmann said. “That means we have wellness programs both for their mental health and physical health.”
Devine says that solving public safety issues also means solving other problems in the community such as poverty and the racial wage gap.
“Crime and safety is not just about law enforcement but how you employ resources equitably throughout this city,” she said.
While different in their approaches, the two candidates believe there is great potential in Columbia.
“We have not sold Columbia to the outside world,” Rickenmann said. “Every time someone comes here, they say ‘This place is unbelievable. Why aren’t y’all telling this story?”
Voting for the next mayor of Columbia will take place Tuesday, November 16th.