Here’s a release I received today from Rep. James Smith:
There are many good people who care about the future of the City of Columbia on both sides of the debate about our city’s form of government. Please allow me to tell you why I’m VOTING YES for a Strong Mayor tomorrowand I hope you will too.
Columbia is fortunate to be served by a dedicated and conscientious City Council and city staff who do their best to serve us every day. But I believe our city is hindered by a system that lacks the fundamental elements of accountability that are the bedrock of our Democracy.
We know this issue has been debated and discussed for the better part of two decades. We know this is the most popular form of government in South Carolina and the same model used by our state and federal governments. And we know the only reason we have this chance to adopt a more effective and accountable Strong Mayor form of government is because over 12,000 individuals just like you who signed a petition and demanded the right to vote.
Some in opposition want to make this about politics and power. But the simple truth is that City Council’s authority doesn’t change at all and a Strong Mayor would have no more power than the City Manager has right now. The only difference is that you hire the Mayor and you can fire the Mayor. The same can’t be said of the City Manager.
The Mayor answers to you and it doesn’t matter how many petitions you sign or how loudly you protest, the City Manager never will. That’s the only difference… but it makes all the difference.
- When the city comes to edge of bankruptcy and no one is held accountable, the system is broken.
- When no one takes responsibility for years of deferred water/sewer maintenance resulting in EPA intervention and rate increases, the system is broken.
- When the police chief can’t do his job without getting permission from an Assistant City Manager, City Manager, any number of department heads and a panel of politicians, the system is broken.
- When the red tape keeps the Mayor you elected from doing what you elected him to, the system is definitely broken.
We need to fix it.
This is our chance to make a real difference, to step forward into a new and more effective government and build the Columbia we’ve always dreamed of.
This is our moment. Tomorrow, December 3, Vote YES for accountability. Vote YES for safety. Vote YES for change and for a greater Columbia.
We’ve been on hold long enough. Let’s move forward together.
Representative James Smith