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…
If anyone appreciates what it takes to be a Columbia City Councillor, it is Mr. Coble. He knows what’s up. He knows how things work and what doesn’t.
Thanks. It’s fixed now. I must have caught that from some of my friends here — I think that’s the most common misspelling on the blog, for some reason…
Well, it’s one of the tenants that an alumni must correct speling and grammer misteaks.
Why is there a Republican and Democrat party line in city council elections? Do you really care what party line the local dog catcher belongs to?
Just what Columbia needs, another Coble on the city payroll. I think his old man did enough damage for both of them.
Daniel serves my vision of: more good jugement and IQ in leadership positions.
My coaching to all City Council: park your cell phones and pads in a basket at the door of meetings. We need your attention, not your tweet fascination.
Oh sure: get famous for green, Mr. Luber.
Because between you and I, this blog is comprised of the finest writers.
Coble is a absolutely on target with his support of the penny increase for transportation.
We have a crisis coming when older folks start hanging up their car keys (or keep driving for essentials).
One, statewide, the number 60-plus increased 40% versus the overall population gain of 15% documented by the Census.
Second, Richland grew 35% in seniors and 20% overall. What sets off the buzzers is that Lexington’s 21.5% growth disguises a 57% jump in people over 60 years of age.
Third, you do not even want to know that growth in the older old categories.
Coble is also on target with his assessment that you have to wean away from water bills subsidizing city services.
Bright young man.
@tired old man
Uh, how are these old people going to get to the bus? and where will they be going?
A bus system needs riders going to destinations. It needs thousands of riders to be worthwhile.
Old people aren’t moving downtown. They are moving out of the city.
The bus system should respond to demand not attempt to create demand, especially when there are few destinations downtown.
Better to hand out cab vouchers. Cheaper, more responsive to individuals.
His yard signs are unreadable.
I cannot imagine anything less conducive to being on an elected governing body than being a law student.
You can’t imagine anything less conducive to being on an elected governing body (that creates and interprets local ordinances) than a law student who will have a greater understanding of law than most?
Your comment seems very illogical.
He’ll be out of law school by the time he’s in office, anyway.
@ Kathryn – I thought he was a 2L.
@ guestuser – I am married to an attorney, and we got married while she was in law school. I assure you that her schedule didn’t include time for all of the various council meetings and work sessions, in addition to constituent meetings, school and the bar exam. I’m sure he’s a very bright and capable young man, but I understand the time commitment required of both law school and public service. I wasn’t making a judgement on the qualifications of the legal profession for governance. I’ll leave that to Juan.
That is a fair observation. But in complete disclosure lets admit that his the other two folks in the race are 1) an restaurant owner and 2) also an attorney. Neither of these professions lend themselves to the time commitments we would like to see from our councilmembers. That being said, I don’t know if there is any career that does – and I wouldn’t propose letting only the uber rich, retired, or unemployed/homeless serving on council.
If anyone knows what he’s getting into, it’s Daniel Coble–his dad was not only mayor, but a practicing lawyer….
@ guestuser- agreed. I was making the assertion that being a law student wasn’t conducive to being on council. Generally, our elected bodies are full of lawyers, and restauranteurs, for that matter. Well, and uber-rich restauranteurs and lawyers to be fair. I definitely agree though that politics shouldn’t be a rich/retired/unemployed person’s game.
@ Kathryn – agreed, he should know.
I hope his dad is a better lawyer than a mayor.
How is he going to handle an associate position with a law firm and have time for city council? Most new lawyers I know are required to work 12-14 hours a day 5-7 days a week if they ever wish to make partner. Or is he going to be one of those strip-mall slip-and-fall type lawyers?
I haven’t decided who to support, but Daniel sounds like an intelligent, thoughtful young man. I believe that Bob Coble was a good mayor, and I know he is a good man. I don’t know how anyone finds time to serve on City or County council, but they do. I’m not sure why it’s a bigger deal with Daniel.
@ Kathy – “I believe that Bob Coble was a good mayor” – That’s where you are wrong. How many millions were wasted, how much was lost, and how much harm was done during his reign?
He might be a good guy though, but he certainly screwed the city over with his buddies EW and Austin.