Finally, I’m getting down to writing about the city council races that are just a couple of weeks away (April 3). I’ll do my best to make up for lost time…
I’ll start with Daniel Coble, one of four candidates seeking the District 3 race being vacated by Belinda Gergel. Remember that election? It was like a battle of titans, between Belinda the historic preservationist and Brian Boyer, the young brother-in-law of Don Tomlin. Each campaign spent something in the six-figure range — TV ads, the whole works. It sucked up all the available oxygen to where hardly anyone noticed the at-large election going on at the same time (Daniel Rickenmann held off a challenge from Cameron Runyan).
This election is a lot more low-key — retail, door-to-door campaigning and yard signs. As for the first of our four candidates:
There are two things everyone seems to know about Daniel Coble: He’s the son of ex-Mayor Bob, and he’s 24 years old. The law student says his parents are very supportive of his candidacy, although his mother did complain that she just got out of politics two years ago, and now they’re pulling her back in.
When I first talked with Daniel about his candidacy back in the fall, after a Community Relations Council meeting (we both serve on the council) he said he was planning “a Seth Rose campaign,” which in part means tirelessly walking the district and knocking on doors. I caught up with him last week to see how it’s gone since then, and he told me he’d already hit every house once, and was starting over.
I asked him who he thought was his strongest opposition, and he named restaurateur Moe Baddourah, and not just because his “MOE!” yard signs so dominate the landscape. Daniel says he thinks Moe has the Republican vote behind him — which may not be a majority in that district, but could be enough of a plurality to lead in a four-way contest. (Yes, this is a non-partisan election, thank God. But I didn’t bring up party — Daniel did. And I have no idea whether that assessment is correct.)
Daniel has a lot of thoughts on a lot of issues, but as we saw at the recent forum at 701 Whaley, he stands out from the crowd on just one: his adamant support for a penny sales tax increase to pay for the bus system and other local transportation needs. I mentioned to him that some other candidates seemed ambivalent on the issue, but he said “You’re either for it or you’re not. If you’re both ways, it won’t work.” Getting such a referendum passed (and at this point it remains to be seen whether the county council will even put it on the ballot again) is enough of an uphill fight, he suggests, without supporters backing it as strongly as they can.
There’s one other issue he’s really adamant on, one that has been important to the current incumbent: Historic preservation. He supports a compromise passed by city council affecting the Hollywood/Rose Hill neighborhood that would require anyone wanting to tear down or drastically change the appearance of a home more than 50 years old to get a special exemption. He says he would strongly oppose any effort to roll back that decision.
A third issue separates him and some of his opponents: He would not immediately stop the practice of spending about 4 percent of water and sewer revenues on general fund items. He says to stop doing it immediately would mean catastrophic cuts for the police and fire departments. But he would favor gradually weaning the general budget off of that revenue source.
His says his “jobs plan” is “to make Columbia Famously Green,” and to work to build the knowledge economy, through such initiatives as Innovista and EngenuitySC.
He calls being a city councilman “a 24/7 job,” and promises to be available for constituent service around the clock. (When I noted that his being a young, single, law student might make that easier for him than for some, he objected that he does have a girlfriend. I pointed out that “compared to me, you’re single.”)
He promises not only to work hard, but to stay current on the issues. “If I don’t know it, call me out on it and I’ll learn.”
I spoke to him again by phone a few minutes ago to clear up a couple of points, and he was out in this 86-degree weather (oh no, there’s no such thing as global warming) walking the district…