And now, we turn to the city election…

… which I’ve been neglecting.

Long ago, I wrote something about Cameron Runyan announcing for the at-large seat. Since then, two others have stepped up to oppose him: Robert Bolchoz, last seen running for attorney general last year, and, drumroll… Joe Azar (note that the website is from his last run for mayor, but that’s what Google gives me).

Then there’s District 2, where Nammu Muhammad — last seen among a big crowd running for major (no, wait — Congress) — is challenging incumbent Brian DeQuincey Newman, who is seeking re-election for the first time after he replaced E. W. Cromartie in mid-term.

Then there’s the really active one, District 3. Back before Christmas, I went out for beers with young Daniel Coble, and took notes, and was going to write about it. But I wanted to talk to the other candidates first, and what with the holidays and the presidential primary, I just didn’t get to it and didn’t get to it…

Then on Monday, I ran into Jenny Isgett at Rotary, which was when I realized that I was going to have to start paying attention to this stuff again. Because it’s coming up in April. Ms. Isgett and Mr. Coble are opposed by restaurateur Moe Baddourah, who has sought the office before, and my former colleague Mike Miller, who is now described by our former paper as “a freelance writer active in Columbia’s music and arts scene.”

So I need to start lining up interviews with these people. This morning, I met again with Cameron Runyan, at his initiative. I actually didn’t have a notebook on me, but here’s what I learned in terms of what’s up with his campaign now…

He’s spending two or three hours a day, and five or six on Saturdays, walking the districts door-to-door. On Sunday, he hits two or three churches.

He’s assembled a fairly impressive professional team: Heyward Bannister, campaign manager; Kendall Corley, field; Adam Fogle, message, mail, media; Rick Quinn, strategy; Keely Saye, social media; Bob Wislinski, development.

As you’ll recall, he has the mayor’s backing — hence the fact that his team looks a lot like the mayor’s from two years ago. Mr. Benjamin called while we were talking this morning.

We talked about other stuff, having to do with disagreements on issues with other candidates. But I want to talk to said candidates before I elaborate.

As the days go by, I’ll be finding out more as I talk with those folks.

14 thoughts on “And now, we turn to the city election…

  1. Brad

    Speaking of Mr. Runyan, he sent out this release yesterday:

    Columbia Firefighter’s Association Endorses Runyan

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia City Council At-Large Candidate Cameron Runyan on Tuesday received the endorsement of the Columbia Firefighter’s Association, the local chapter of professional firefighters.

    “As the President of Local 793 I am pleased to announce our support for City of Columbia Council candidate Cameron Runyan,” said Michael Cosola. “He has committed to supporting public safety and I am sure he is the best man for the job. We look forward to working along side him.”

    Since launching his campaign in July, Runyan has received over a dozen key endorsements, including Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. In November, Runyan completed the Columbia Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy, a 10-week program that gives citizens a first-hand look at law enforcement in the city.

    “I am honored to earn the support of the Columbia Firefighter’s Association and I cannot thank them enough for backing our campaign,” said Runyan. “These brave men and women are heroes. They risk their lives every day to keep our city safe. On Council, public safety will be my top priority. I will fight every day to provide our first responders with the resources they need to do their job and return home safely to their loved ones.”

    Runyan, a Columbia businessman who lives in Columbia’s Elmwood Park, is running for the at-large seat in the April election.

    For more information on the Columbia Firefighter’s Association, visit

  2. Brad

    Meanwhile, Robert Bolchoz has sent out this:

    Robert Bolchoz will file today for the At-large seat being vacated by Councilman Daniel Rickenmann. Robert plans to wage an aggressive grassroots campaign that will address many of the important issues facing our city.

    He believes that for Columbia to realize its potential, we must make decisions based on where we are today and begin building for the future.

    Bolchoz stated his campaign will have three major components:

    The first priority is public safety, ensuring that Chief Randy Scott and his officers have the necessary resources to keep our families and neighborhoods safe. Businesses and schools thrive in safe areas and fail in unsafe ones.
    Secondly, smart and mature decisions must be made when spending the taxpayer’s money. In this tough economy families have had to cutback and prioritize their spending. City government must do the same. Now is not the time to raise taxes, fees or utility rates and spend more, but that is exactly what we have seen from City Council; and

    Last but not least, there must be a commitment to honesty and integrity in local government. The residents of Columbia deserve accountable public servants dedicated to the public’s best interest.

    Reggie Lloyd, former director of the State Law Enforcement Division, stated: “Robert is a friend of law enforcement and knows that safety is the number one priority of Government. He will help ensure that Chief Scott has the resources he needs to ensure the safety and prosperity of all of Columbia’s citizens”.

    When Sherri Lydon, former Chief of the Statewide Grand Jury and Columbia resident learned of Robert’s candidacy she offered that “Robert is one of the most honest and forthright people I know. He will be a positive presence on Columbia City Council. He is the type of public servant we need right now. You can always trust Robert’s word.”

  3. `Kathryn Fenner

    Gee, Rick Quinn. Will we be seeing more mudslinging, then?

    Joe Azar is finally looking like the best candidate. Oy!

  4. Silence

    Do you have Cameron’s “Why I’m running” email/news release? I would love to post it here, but it made me so violently ill I deleted it.

  5. Steven Davis

    Let me guess we’ll get the same handful of people who have unsuccessfully run for office for the past 20 years. Maybe the 6th time will be the charm.

  6. lafollette

    To other posters, don’t be so quick to paint Runyan with a broad brush. This is a guy who had the courage to run in 2008 basically as an anti-establishment (at that time, Coble/Cromartie was establishment) progressive. Not an easy position to take at that time, and it cost him votes he could have had with a little easy pandering. Runyan is his own man, and he’s got guts. He would complement the current council with a lot of focus and energy, I think.

  7. `Kathryn Fenner

    He slings mud at city staffers who are widely viewed as beyond reproach. That doesn’t take guts. That’s just wrong, and not how I want our city government to become.

  8. Silence

    @ lafollette – or he would be the mayor’s “yes man”. He’s so full of himself, he’s coming out of his own ears. I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and say that the taxpaying residents of Columbia are screwed.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    Naw, Silence. We’ll just have to work harder, ‘s all. We dealt with E.W. Cromartie; we can deal with Mr. Runyan. Kirkman wasn’t so bad after all, and I was thinking about moving to Cayce when he won.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of a well-run city!

  10. Silence

    @ Kathryn – So far we’ve got a city still reeling from the Austin/Coble era. They’ve called ordinary operating expenses “capital expenses” and increased our bonded indebtedness, all while maintaining a “balanced budget”. Healthcare costs continue to drain us, and the city’s cut a secret deal with the EPA to increase our water/sewer rates by 5% annually for the forseeable future. The TIF for the Bull St. property will divert funds from other efforts to that one, and by the way, it’s going to be mainly student/low income housing and a Target. Good luck, Main St… There’s only 40,000 working people in the City of Columbia, how much harder can we work?

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    We pay very low taxes compared to what people in the snow belt pay, or in the parts of the country that are higher on the good lists and lower on the bad ones.

    Health care costs are draining everyone. What to do about that?

    There is no TIF for Bull Street yet, so the jury is out on that one, and student/low income housing may be what’s needed. Students certainly pump a lot of money into the economy. You can’t build our future on endless “upscale condominium” projects….at least not yet.

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