Cameron Runyan, candidate for city council

It all starts with a good breakfast. Cameron Runyan keeps to a strict diet, which he told me about while I was eating my grits and corned beef hash (with ketchup). Then, when he started going on about his exercise regimen, I almost walked out in protest.

If anybody else is going to run against Cameron Runyan for the at-large Columbia City Council position being vacated by Daniel Rickenmann, he or she will have to get started soon. Because Cameron is already running hard, with the election not until April 2012.

To hear him talk about it, you’d think it was tomorrow. But he took a bit of time out of this busy week of fund-raising to chat with me this morning.

Before I get to that, here’s the first release he sent out about his campaign, just as a beginning point of reference:


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia businessman Cameron Runyan on Thursday announced that he will run for Columbia City Council in the April 2012 municipal election.
“After a great deal of thought and prayer, and after discussing it with my wife Jenni and my family, I have decided to offer myself as a candidate for City Council,” Runyan said. “I believe my experience as a private business person and as an engaged member of the community makes me uniquely qualified to serve all of Columbia.”
Runyan, 34, will seek the at-large Council seat currently held by two-term Councilman Daniel Rickenmann, who will not run for re-election.
Runyan enters the race with a fresh perspective on the challenges facing the city.
“I want to help build a clean, safe, strong city that my daughter is proud to call home for her entire life,” Runyan said. “We can make Columbia great, and I feel that I can play an important role in doing that as a member of council.”
Runyan’s platform will center on public safety, job creation and leadership.
“There is so much potential for our city, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Runyan. “We’ve got to crack down on crime, grow our city’s economy, and get our unemployed residents back to work.”
Added Runyan, “We also face environmental concerns, education concerns, and transportation concerns. It will take strong leadership to address these and other important issues. It will take strong leadership to move our city forward. I am ready to lead.”
Runyan plans to hold an official campaign kick-off in the coming weeks.

You’ll recall that Cameron ran for this seat several years back. Or you may not. The way I remember it, all the available oxygen in that election got sucked up by the District 3 race between Belinda Gergel and Brian Boyer. That one was a corker. A lot of money was spent, and heat generated. Which was weird, because it was just a district election.

Cameron doesn’t quite remember it that way. He thinks he got enough attention, he just didn’t have the resources. He remembers doing well in District 3, which he hopes to do again, while doing better than he did in District 4. He says “I got my clock cleaned” in 1 & 2. He’s determined not to let that happen again.

You know what? Rather than take the time to try to weave this into an elegant narrative, with all the necessary transitions, I’m going to throw some bullets at you — in the interest of getting this post done:

  • Cameron thinks one disadvantage he had in 2008 was that he was so young (and inexperienced), at 30, compared to Daniel. That made me smile. I had this habit, back at The State, of asking a certain question of candidates I thought seemed barely old enough to vote, much less presuming to run for office and run things: “How old are you?” I asked it of young Mr. Rickenmann when he first ran. But we endorsed him anyway. Over my grumblings. It was one of those occasions when I let the rest of the board override me. I tended to remember things like that so I could hold it over my colleagues’ heads when they claimed that I always had my way. “Oh, yeah?” I’d ask. “How about when you made me endorse that Rickenmann kid?” But I digress.
  • Daniel also had the advantage of incumbency, which will not be a factor this time, conveniently for Cameron.
  • If you do the math, you realize that Cameron is now 34. Yep, the age of one of my kids. But he seems older because I’m used to seeing him around now — he’s at the Cap City Club most mornings, which was where we spoke today. He’s also somewhat calmer. After his endorsement interview last time around, I did something I seldom do — give the candidate feedback on the interview. I told him he seemed unusually… intense… in his criticism of his opponent. I mentioned that because I had a concern: Could he get along with other people on the council if elected, or would he always be at war with somebody. He assured me then that he would be cool. And he does seem a good bit cooler now.
  • When I first met him, Cameron was in the nonprofit world. He was working on the private side of the guardian ad litem program. Now he’s a financial planner. Interesting contrast there.
  • Economic development will be a key message in his campaign. I asked what he meant by that. He mentioned having a “structured incentive plan,” getting the council and mayor more involved in ecodevo, and taking better care of the businesses we already have. On that last point — he said the city needs to get more business-friendly in its permitting processes.
  • He grew up in Hampton County, where his father was an attorney. His Dad, incidentally, was raised in Nigeria. His father was a Baptist missionary.
  • He’s being helped in this campaign by Heyward Bannister, Adam Fogle (who, as you know, may be the funniest South Carolinian on Twitter) and the Quinns.
  • Most morning, you can see him sitting at his table at Cap City, reading his iPad. Which was how I found him this morning (see below).
  • He has disgustingly healthy habits. While I consumed my grits and corned beef hash, with ketchup, he broke his fast with fruit and oatmeal. He only eats meat once or twice a week. He engages in some sort of intense morning workout that was painful to hear about.
  • He says that government on the local level exists for only one reason: because “collectively, we can get more done than we can individually.” I think that sounded more collectivist than he intended. Later, he said he thought it was important to “balance collective responsibility and individual responsibility.” That sounded sufficiently communitarian (official battle cry: “Rights and Responsibilities“) that I asked it he had studied that school of thought. Like most people, he had not heard of it. Amitai Etzioni needs to get a better press agent.

On that last bit: I had lunch with Ashley Landess, head of the S.C. Policy Council, the other day, and mentioned communitarianism to her as well. You will not be shocked to hear that she had not heard of it either (neither, by the way, has the spellchecker on WordPress). But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell her about it. Yeah, I know — I am indeed the eternal optimist.

I thought this was a fairly cool image, even though you can see me in the reflection. Or maybe BECAUSE you can see me in the reflection.

13 thoughts on “Cameron Runyan, candidate for city council

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    I have it on good authority that he engaged Richard Quinn for his campaign, which makes the whole Daniel Rickenmann frat photo flyers on the windshield story seem very plausible. He cast aspersions on the character of Steve Gantt and Daniel Rickenmann in connection with the Kenny’s site garage project.No thanks.

    I hear that Tige Watts will run. He did a lot of good with Columbia Council of Neighborhoods, which will no doubt work to his credit in Districts 1 and 2. I hope he does run.

  2. Steven Davis

    I don’t trust people who rarely if ever eat meat. I eat meat at every meal. Those teeth in front are sharp for a reason.

  3. Greg Jones

    I won’t get s vote, since I don’t live in Columbia, but I’d vote for Cameron in a minute.
    I knew him as a fine young man who I taught in Sunday School. He also was a heck of a kicker for our school football team. (I seem to remember a 53 yarder on the road on a wet field.)
    None of these are necessarily reasons to vote for Cameron, but we certainly vote for folks with a lot less positive endorsement than this.

  4. Mab

    Ha. Finally found some common ground with Steven.

    All these people cropping up who don’t eat meat are making me nervous. Half of my daughter’s new friends are ‘vegans’ and state it proudly as if it is some sort of cult.

    In saner times, people were only ‘vegans’ when their pockets were empty. We could get our kids to eat beans by calling them cowboy beans and telling them that John Wayne also ate cowboy beans, but when payday arrived there was meat the table.

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    I’m with noted animal husbandry expert, Dr. Temple Grandin (who has autism), when she says that we raise animals to eat–if we do not, they will largely live in zoos. What we need to do to be ethical is to ensure that their lives are as pleasant as possible.

    To paraphrase Emile de Felice, who raises Caw Caw Farms free-range pigs–the hogs have only one bad day their whole lives…

  6. Steven Davis

    As the great Canadian comedian, Red Green, once said, “Vegetarian” is an old Indian word meaning “I don’t hunt so good.”

  7. Doug Ross

    Joke I saw in Esquire this week:

    How many vegans does it take to change a light bulb?

    I’m better than you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *