Wednesday, March 31, 2010

City Paper Election Guide

By Paul Blake

* indicates Columbia City Paper endorsement

For Mayor

Joe Azar
Azar will tell you his opinion on something over and over again.  First it will be at an inappropriate setting in public.  Then it will be in his e-newsletter.  Finally he will have somehow acquired the phone number that you don't give out and call you Sunday night at 11 p.m.  If you let it go to voice mail, he'll just keep calling back until you answer.  He's a persistent and annoying SOB that just might show up at your house if you don't agree with him so you better press Azar on April 6.  Otherwise, he'll just run again and tell you what you are doing wrong... over and over again.

Stephen Benjamin
Arguably the most shameless of the candidates, Benjamin may want to be your preacher instead of the mayor.  At the Greenwood Baptist Church, Benjamin opened for the audience asking them to pray for former councilman Cromartie.    Benjamin is using Rick Quinn & Associates to help with the campaign (the same folks who are involved with the Henry McMaster for Governor campaign) and has received endorsements from the Columbia Firefighters Association (CFA), the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.).  In our opinion, Benjamin will owe lots of favors after this election and may plan to use the mayor position as a stepping stone.  He may end up breaking new ground as Columbia's first black mayor but he sure won't be the City's first good ole boy one.

Kirkman Finlay
Finlay has done an excellent job bringing leadership and fiscal responsibility to Columbia City Council.  He's not likely to be progressive on issues like the flag or the arts, but his track record on balancing the budget and reining in an otherwise out-of-control council may be the kind of leadership Columbia needs.  During the USC Law School debate, Finlay showed his safe side in not addressing the issue of candidates being excluded.  He made light about the arrival of Aarron Johnson and his protesters by remarking "here come the anarchists."  Morrison and Azar made it clear they would prefer a more open debate at the Law School, and Benjamin was allegedly at a fundraiser thrown by Clyburn in Washington D.C.    Debate goers joked that "maybe Benjamin had District of Columbia mixed up with Columbia, S.C.?"  One thing is clear, Kirkman is here for Columbia residents and he isn't running to stroke his own ego.

Stephen G. MorrisonSteve Morrison is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, who is most know for The Abbeville Case which was featured in the documentary Corridor of Shame.  Morrison calls the case, "The most important pro bono effort I have ever personally led is the effort to secure a constitutionally adequate educational opportunity for every child in S.C. regardless of race, geography or socioeconomic status."   Morrison is almost as large as his heart, and at-large city council candidate, Grant Roberson, said shaking his hand was like  "shaking hands with a pillow."   He is a big guy that promises big results.

*Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson is a small business owner of a production company located on Harden Street in Five Points.  He acts as a comedian on the popular local web program "Drinking In The Morning," but don't let his antics fool you.  Johnson is passionate about the issues and has held protests at the state house for support of public transportation and rocked the dome last Saturday with "Confederate Fagg" playing on the state house steps.  Although a mostly Caucasian crowd, several hundred people attended the protest to remove the confederate flag and Johnson even invited competing candidate Steve Morrison to speak who got the crowd chanting, "Take it down!"    Johnson is against the TIF and a strong supporter of the arts and community involvement.  While he presents himself as the people's candidate, don't be surprised if the youth vote turns out and makes Johnson one of the top contenders.

Sparkle Clark

Clark is Columbia's green-gay candidate.  Clark worked on the Tom Turnipseed for Attorney General Campaign and has worked as a postal worker for the past 28 years.   She presents herself as the working class candidate and wants, "A community of neighborhoods bridged together with businesses, parks and safe streets encircled in clean air, awash with clean water, and enveloped in an atmosphere of well-being." ...Hippie. In the 90s, she volunteered her time with Palmetto Aids Life Support Services (PALSS), and served as co-chair of South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (GLPM) and participated in a variety of efforts toward the attainment of Civil Rights of GLBT people.

City Council


Tameika Isaac Devine

Devine received her undergraduate degree in Business Management from Hampton University and her juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She is a founding partner in the law firm of Jabber & Isaac, PA.  Devine is a sitting council member despite a few controversies, including her mother getting a federal “community empowerment” loan for $280,000.

*Grant Robertson

Robertson is co-owner of the F-Stop camera shop on Harden Street.  Robertson is against the TIF and for a strong mayor system.  At the last council meeting Robertson scolded council over $150,000 spent on an efficiency study: "I find the practice of sending vast quantities out of our city when there are countless intelligent, creative, and experienced financial experts right here at home to be, frankly, reprehensible. We live in a city with an able and active Chamber of Commerce and no less than four college campuses, one of which has a nationally and internationally recognized business school. It would have been a simple measure to call together a focus group at minimal costs that could have been composed of local experts who are intimately familiar with the financial landscape of our city and I, for one, am disgusted that you have chosen once again to waste our tax dollars and send them out of state."

District 2

Alex Furgess

Furgess has lived in District 2 for eight years and is a local activist and volunteer. She graduated from Benedict College and is a former Richland One teacher.  Furgess says she will focus on building code enforcement and police and fire funding.

Harold “Puff” Howard
Puff is owner of Puff Howard’s Towing and Howard’s Garage on Two Notch Road. He is the brother of State Rep. Leon Howard.

Emma McGraw Myers

Myers is a Adjunct Professor at USC College of Social Work and is involved in the Jones-McDonald Neighborhood Association.
She wants to lower crime, create jobs and thinks District 2 needs a fresh start.

*Gary Myers

Lt. Colonel Gary Myers is running for the vacant District 2 city council seat.  Myers is a Columbia native, spent 23 years in the military, retiring as a Decorated Combat Veteran.  He later worked as a Department of Defense Contractor (international), taught Spanish and coached football at a tough inner city school.  Also, along with his brother a City Police Officer, he has mentored countless numbers of local youth.  He came home to Columbia after a special assignment to Haiti, where he assisted in the transition of the Haitian Government from Dictatorship to Democracy. We at City Paper often compare Columbia, South Carolina to Haiti and with Myers' experience, City Paper endorses him for District II in the hopes he will help transition our fair city to democracy, too.

Brian Dequincey Newman

Personal injury and criminal defense attorney with Rikard & Moses and a former Richland County prosecutor.

Josh Stroman

Stroman is a licensed minister and graduated with honors from Benedict College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and the distinctions of Outstanding Senior and student government association president. Josh is the recipient of numerous fellowships, and in May, will graduate from the Harvard Divinity School. Josh has one little girl named T’Alitha who is nine.

Antonio Williams
If Joe Azar was black.

District 4

Kevin Fisher Owner of advertising firm Fisher Communications, Fisher ran for mayor in 2006 ,failed, and then wrote about Bob Coble in a Virgina-based entertainment newsweekly for the next three years.

Tony Mizzell Tony Mizzell, former Richland County Chairman and Vice President of Interactive Marketing at Chernoff Newman.  Mizzell served on Richland County Council from 1998-2006 and served as Chairman of County Council in 2005 and 2006.
Mizzel and his wife reside in the Brandon Hills neighborhood in Southeast Columbia with their two children, Sybil (9) and T.J. (6).

*Leona Plaugh Plaugh is touting her experience with budget issues.  Last time the city had a surplus, Plaugh was City Manager.  [After the previous harsh winter, City Paper thinks it's about time this city got a new plaugh!]

Walter Powell Jr. Powell is a former police officer and firefighter and has been endorsed by by the Columbia Firefighters Association and the local chapter of the Southern States Police Benelovence Association.  Powell looks like the kind of cop that won't give you a warning.

Mary Baskin Waters
Waters has a strong leadership background and experience in grant writing and business management. Dr. Waters currently serves as co-president of the Heathwood Neighborhood Association and is incoming president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods.  In 2009, Dr. Waters established a lectureship fund for women’s human rights, global issues and grant writing with the University of South Carolina.  Dr. Waters owns Albion Research Associates, LLC, and teaches at USC.   Waters is a strong woman and a strong pick for District 4.

Columbia Municipal Government and Politics Overview Fast Facts!

The City of Columbia has a council-manager form of government. The mayor and city council are elected every four years, with no term limits, elections are held in the Spring of even numbered years. Unlike other mayors in council-manager systems, Columbia mayor has the power to veto ordinances passed by the council; vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the council.The council appoints a city manager to serve as chief administrative officer. Steve Gantt is the current interim city manager following Charles P. Austin's recent resignation.

The current mayor of Columbia is Bob Coble. Coble, now in his fifth term, has served as mayor since first being elected in 1990 and is the city's longest serving mayor. In September 2009, Coble announced that he would not seek a sixth term. Columbia holds elections for mayor every four years, with the next election in 2010; there are no term limits.

The city council consists of six members (four from districts and two at-large). The city council is responsible for making policies and enacting laws, rules and regulations in order to provide for future community and economic growth, in addition to providing the necessary support for the orderly and efficient operation of city services.
Columbia Mayors of Days Current & Bygone

1855-1857Edward J. Arthur
1857-1859James D. Tradewell
1859-1861Allen J. Green
1861-1863John H. Boatwright
1863-1865Thomas J. Goodwyn
May 1865-April 1866James C. Gibbes
April 1866-July 1868Theodore Stark
July-August 1868Francis L. Guenther
August-November 1868Cyrus H. Baldwin
1868-1870John McKenzie
1870-1878John Alexander
1878-1880William B. Stanley
1880-1882Richard O'Neale Jr.
1882-1890John T. Rhett
1890-1892Fitz William McMaster
1892-1894Walter C. Fisher
1894-1898William M. Sloan
1898-1900Thomas J. Lipscomb
1900-1904Fort Sumter Earle
1904-1908Thomas H. Gibbes
1908-1910William S. Reamer
1910-1914Wade Hampton Gibbes
1914-1918Lewie A. Griffith
1918-1922R. Johnson Blalock
1922-1926William A. Coleman
1926-1941Lawrence B. Owens
1941-1946Fred D. Marshall
1946-1950Frank C. Owens
1950-1954J. Macfie Anderson
1954-1958J. Clarence Dreher
1958-1970Lester L. Bates
1970-1978John T. Campbell
1978-1986Kirkman Finlay Jr.
1986-1990T. Patton Adams
1990-presentBob Coble

Columbia City Paper will present a $5 gift certificate from Maurice's BBQ to the first person to present in person to City Paper co-owner Paul Blake the ethnic background of all previous Columbia mayors.  Hint: Every single one of these former Columbia mayors, to our knowledge, would have been allowed to become members of the Forest Acres Country Club.


A is for Assembly Street.  Keep it well-paved, add a few benches, and for God's sake do something about all those homeless bums who hang out at RCPL before the doors open in the a.m.!

B is for Ben & Jerry's.  Why the hell did they leave Devine Street?!  Exert some political clout and bring 'em back!

C is for City Paper.  All we're asking for is an exclusive post-election interview.  Nude centerfold negotiable.

D is for dog shit.  Keep the reservoir walkway clean!

E is for energy.  We look into our magic 8-ball and see hydrogen and nuclear power as the key to Columbia's future economy.

F is for Finlay Park.  Automatically renamed to the surname of the newly elected mayor.

G is for grocery stores.  As in, Olympia neighborhood desperately in need of.

H is for Huger Street.  Mayoral edict changes orthographic representation to Hugey.

I is for IHOP.  City smoking ban excluded from.

J is for Jesus.  Giant statue to rival Rio de Janeiro's at the top of the Meridian Building downtown.
K is for KKK.  We respect their right to assemble; we just think they should all have to wear Farrah Fawcett cut-off denim shorts.

L is for lewd.  Strip clubs within the city limits, please!  A Heartbreakers on every corner!

M is for Morrison.  Even if he doesn't win, he should at least become the official city greeter.

N is for NAACP.  Reach out and touch an African-American hand!

O is for opulence.  Restore the USC rotating restaurant - maybe throw in a craps table or two - and show the world we can compete with all the Vegases and Monacos of the world!

P is for Pop's Pizza.  Permanent ban.  Send him back to Mexico, where he can exhume corpses in peace.

Q is for queer.  More queer parades.  Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows!!

R is for riverfront.  Columbia remains the only major river-based city in the country without a developed riverfront business district.

S is for State newspaper.  The new mayor should thank his lucky stars that the biggest rag in town doesn't seem to care about more than $30 million in missing city emergency funds.

T is for tits.  Well else could the letter "t" be about?  Odds are, the next mayor's political downfall will have something to do with mammary glands.  What men will do for organic pillows.

U is for ubermensch.  The city needs a superman and nothing less.

V is for vultures.  Would somebody please look into why there's always a circle of buzzards flying around the Garner's Ferry K-Mart?

W is for whet my whistle.  Okay, so now that we're all a free-pour state, can we take the next step and introduce intravenous alcohol?

X is for X-rated.  Idea:  Glory holes at the Nickelodeon.

Y is for YMCA.  The closest thing to a gay bath we'll probably ever have.

Z is for Riverbanks Zoo.  For God's sake, boost funding for this major civic jewel.

1 comment:

  1. Benji was just busted listing supporters on his web site, many of which didn't know they were.