FINAL MONTHS IN CHARGE: Columbia mayor reflects on time in office as runoff election nears
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — After three terms and almost 12 years of service to the city of Columbia, Mayor Steve Benjamin has only a few months left as leader of South Carolina’s capital city.
“It’s about thinking bigger. It’s about thinking bolder. It’s about working together to continue to help Columbia be what we know we can be,” Benjamin said.
Mayor Benjamin is proud of the work he accomplished together with city council and the people of Columbia, such as the revitalization of Main Street.
“We redeveloped Main Street. Main Street was a very different place over a decade ago,” the mayor said. “Now it’s a thriving, connected, walkable community where thousands of people now live.”
Another project is an unfinished one in a historic area of town.
“Bull Street is the largest redevelopment project in any downtown east of the Mississippi. We already got $180 million of private sector investment,” Benjamin said. “We brought baseball back to Columbia. We built Baseball Digest’s stadium of the decade. We’re watching an adaptive reuse of historic buildings, continue to keep the Sylvan canopy and announce new things like our very first affordable housing development there sometime soon.”
Other successes from his terms in office he cites as investments in infrastructure and budget surpluses in 8 out of 11 years in office.
However, he admits there’s more to be done.
“You need to have a fresh set of eyes on an old set of problems,” the mayor said. “We still have to completely explore the potential riverfront development opportunities and build an equitable community where we have good affordable housing.”
So what now for Mayor Benjamin and the city of Columbia?
“I support Tameika Isaac Devine and I’m also supporting Tyler Bailey to fill the at-large seat on city council,” he said. “I’m excited that Columbia has choices. I’ve had the opportunity and privilege of serving with Mr. Rickenmann and Mrs. Devine. We’ve had a lot of agreements and disagreements over the years. All of them have been civil and thoughtful. I’m looking forward to working with whoever as citizen Steve.”
The runoff election between Daniel Rickenmann and Tameika Isaac Devine will be held one week from today to see who fills Mayor Benjamin’s seat.