Council Blocks Vote @ Strong Mayor 4-3.

ColumbiaSkylineTonight Columbia’s City Council voted against giving citizens the ability to change our local government to a “Strong Mayor” system. By a count of 4-3, the message many taxpayers heard was from council was, “We don’t want you to vote. You elected us to decide this kind of thing for you, and we’re all good.”

I’ve been a proponent of the strong mayor form of government for a long time. I understand many of the pros and cons of the different models, and am aware too of fine cities that operate as Columbia’s system does. That said, given the dynamics I think our current form of government is diluting Columbia’s ability to become what it can be. Perhaps ‘capping’ is a better term.

I think it’s interesting that Councilman Baddourah voted against the measure. I’m not faulting him as I’m sure he has a reason, I just think it’s curious he voted ‘No.’ After all, he’s running for mayor after juuust getting elected to council. I mean, why even run? If a council member isn’t for ‘strong mayor’ but wants to be mayor, what’s the difference? I almost feel like he’s for the ‘strong mayor’ system, just not who the mayor is during the time of this vote. Who knows…?

Should Columbia, SC move to a strong mayor form of government? In my opinion, yes. BUT, I can understand why some council members would balk at this. However, allowing the citizens to vote on the idea (or not) is a whole ‘nother thing. I could go on and on but it just seems to me that blocking a citywide referendum is a win/win opportunity missed.

I guess what I’m getting at is that this debate shouldn’t be about loving or hating current mayor Steve Benjamin.  The dialogue should be about the bigger picture and how to take our city to the next level.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about the subject in the days to come.

Thank you!



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