I always devote the first few minutes of these meetings to letting the candidate summarize the high points of what he wants us to know about him and his candidacy. Mr. Swearingen chose to use that time to explain how his biography plays into his concept of what he’s like Columbia to be, based on what he’s seen in other cities he’s lived in.
In editing this material down to YouTube’s five-minute limit (which I find is generally good discipline, and produces a more watchable clip), I left out some details — such as his brief sojourn in Los Angeles (a city he didn’t like living in), and a period he spent back in Columbia, teaching at Midlands Tech, after California and before Austin, Texas. My goal was to keep to the points that spoke to his particular vision of a good city.
Anyway, as it begins, he has just explained being originally from Florence, and going to Francis Marion University, and he is just starting to tell about moving to San Francisco…
OK, I get it that there should be standards for federally subsidized housing. But "security?" In what sense? Today’s story seems to suggest that those looking to the federal government to require beefed-up security are thinking in terms of — I’m not sure, but it looks like this — landlords having to hire rent-a-cops, or turning subsidized housing developments into gated communities:
Columbia City Council members on Thursday will lobby the state’s
Congressional delegation to attach security requirements to laws
governing apartment complexes that accept federal housing vouchers…
I’ve got another idea. How about if city council members "lobby" their own city administration to enforce the law within the city limits? How about that? Note in this other story today that a lot of folks in that part of town feel like it’s not doing that. Doesn’t the city manager’s responsibility in this matter extend beyond declaring a portion of the city "a community in crisis?"
You would think so. An interesting topic to have in mind as we begin interviews with city council candidates today.
As Doug Ross might testify, I make a point of breaking my fast most mornings in a place where I’m likely to run into newsmakers who tell me things I was not trying to find out, but needed to know anyway (to sorta, kinda paraphrase Dirk Gently).
At this time I will head off those of you who think this is an elitist pursuit by saying I also frequent Wal-Mart — but there, few people come up to me and tell me things I can publish.
Anyway, in keeping with my sporadic efforts to let you know about folks I interact with (part of the whole transparency thing, letting you know who might be trying to influence what you read on the editorial page, yadda-yadda), here’s this morning’s list of folks who dropped by my table:
Daniel Rickenmann, who seemed to be sort of working the room, eventually got to me. No substantial discussion. I asked him what he was hearing from constituents as he campaigned for April 1, he said he’d heard a lot (understandably) about the city’s problems keeping track of money, and suggested the creation of a citizens’ fiscal review panel. At least, I think that’s what he said. Does not being sure sound lax on my part? Well, I knew I would be sitting down formally with him next Tuesday for an endorsement interview, and that will be well documented, I promise.
A group of folks — one of them a surgeon I know from USC’s medical school, but I’m leaving his name out for now since he was not the instigator of the conversation (although he can remind me of the names of the other folks later) — approached me to say that the former Department of Mental Health property on Bull Street (you know, which was supposed to be redeveloped, but which hasn’t happened?) is still needed to provide mental health services, and to help train psychiatrists. I’ve heard this before, of course, but there seemed a new urgency in their concern. The doc mentioned the name of a good source, which I wrote on my copy of the WSJ.
As a companion effort to my drive to gather up legislative sites wherever I can get them, I’ve been collecting some on the Columbia City Council races.
I don’t have all of the at-large candidates together yet (I have Rickenmann and Runyan — who still sort of look alike — but there are two more), but here, in alphabetical order, are the three who are running for the District 3 seat to be vacated by Anne Sinclair:
Brian Boyer — His site tells of a young man who grew up in the community, and cites his leadership serving as a captain in the Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expectations are that he would be allied with Daniel Rickenmann and Kirkman Finley III. Don Tomlin is his brother-in-law, in case you keep track of such things. His "key issues" are "fiscal responsibility," "crime (fighting it, that is)" and "leadership."
Belinda Gergel — The retired chair of the poli sci department at Columbia College has a long history of active service in the community, recently as chair of Historic Columbia Foundation (remember the battle over the Inn at USC site?) Commonly seen as likely to be allied with the Bob Coble faction, she’s been reaching out beyond her usual circles to widen her support — an example: Jack Van Loan, 5 Points business leader and POW comrade to John McCain.
Reed Swearingen — A guy who has demonstrated his perspicacity by commenting on this blog (I think; although I had trouble finding a comment just now — he’s quoted in this post, though). He’s for smart growth, against digital billboards, and positions himself as one who will "remain independent and uninfluenced," which I’m guessing means he has the backing of neither of the aforementioned factions.
I’ll be back when I have more. In the meantime, peruse.