On August 22, Richland Library hosted a forum for the candidates in the mayoral race for the City of Columbia.
The four candidates (Tameika Isaac Devine, Sam Johnson, Daniel Rickenmann, and Moe Baddourah) spoke with Tamara King, Richland Library's Chief Diversity Officer, about their plans to address affordable housing, Columbia’s COVID-19 response, increasing inclusivity, and more. Check out one of the questions asked and each candidates' response below!
Question from Constituent:
As a region, looking at the latest census info just released, Columbia is falling way behind Greenville and Charleston. New Airlines are going to those areas, businesses are moving their headquarters out of Columbia, and manufacturing is leaving. What will you do as mayor to reverse these trends?
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine
“There’s a lot of things that we need to do. One thing we need to understand is that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to certain things. All of these things are intersectional, and we have to look at it that way. One of the things that Greenville and Charleston have done- when I talk about promoting a more inclusive and equitable city- both have gotten to the point where they have moved that forward. As a council person- someone who spearheaded the conversation on the Color of Law and equity within our city. I have asked my colleagues, and they agreed that we do undertake an equity survey. Charleston and Greenville have done that, and both are moving forward with their equity action plans. I think understanding that we have to have the quality of life here that makes it good for people is very important. We also need to make sure that we are developing the workforce that businesses need. We have got to make sure we are strengthening our relationship with higher education, technical colleges, and our K-12. To make sure that we are providing that workforce. Looking at cutting taxes for schools is not the way to go. We need to look at strengthening our schools and strengthening our workforce - having workforce development programs. Those are two of the things that I would do. Go to my website devineformayor.com because there’s a lot about this on how we will be more competitive.”
“First and foremost, we’re not Greenville or Charleston. These are two different dynamics. We’re a college town and a fort Jackson kind of town plus for the capital so it’s important to realize that in the back of your head. At the same time quality of life is important. Safety is extremely important. Another important part of it is the corruption. When investors or other people are trying to move to the city or try to invest in our city, all they hear about is what happened with the Penny sales taxes going on with Richland County. It’s filibuster. There’s so much misspending everywhere. When you hear what happened to Allen Benedict Court where two people died and no one was held accountable. When you hear about the tax incentive that was offered for the student housing... When you hear about the money that we spend on Bull Street... That doesn’t make sense to a lot of investors because we need that money to spend to better our quality of life. So, all that coming together comes back to the leadership. The quality of life is number one. The leader that leads into the future has to be involved and understanding what basic services are needed for not only the citizens that get them elected but for the investors that come in to bring more people into town. That brings more population to increase our population and to invest. They want to have a safe secure investment in our city and our people. The only way to do that is if we can get all three of them together and make sure our leadership is there to protect those investors.” investors.”
Councilman Daniel Rickenmann
“To be competitive today, the reality is that we need to employ our economic development folks. Other cities- you go to Greenville, go to Lexington, Kentucky, you go to Columbus, Ohio, go to Charlotte. Look at the growth that they’re having. Well, their economic development teams have the tools and the ability they’re traveling with every day. They’re going to find today’s world is not recruiting businesses, recruiting developers. They bring the businesses with them, and that is a big competitive edge that a lot of communities have over us because every day they’re traveling meeting and encouraging and showing them how they’re business-friendly and how quickly they can do business in our town in their towns and encourage them. The second piece to it is we have to develop some more job opportunities training. It’s not just the knowledge economy that we need to focus on, it’s the basics. Its electricians, heavy equipment operators. The city is looking for employees right now with heavy equipment, operator experience. So are all the CDL drivers. All the things that make everything work around here- from electrical to HVAC- is something that we really need to focus on. It gives an opportunity. In our neighboring county Lexington, there’s a program created by the private sector and joint with Lexington county technical college where they’re training electricians. Power Electric is a company- 57% of their employee workforce is 25 and under all making 22.50 an hour to start. That’s where we need to be focused.“
“First, public safety is core, right? If we’re going to grow Columbia. If we’re going to see the type of growth that we have the ability, the natural assets that we have here. Like our rive and so many other natural assets like University. The college presence that we have here, we’ve got to make sure that Columbia is the safest place possible. Which means we pour resources into Columbia to make sure that we retain our officers. As I mentioned earlier, but we got to be very dedicated to growing a very diverse economy. An economy that is reflected of every job and talent that we have on display here in Columbia. So, one of our plans calls for the development of the Columbia Career Academy- realizing that we’ve got to make sure that we are extremely creative and tackling the solution bringing Richland one and two together, Midlands Tech. Making sure that we teach some of these job skills. These job skills, these knowledge economy job opportunities that we have here. Making sure that they are accessible and attainable to all of our citizens here in Columbia. We’ve got to have an incentive structure that makes sure that development happens all across Columbia. Not just in one particular region or area, and so we’ve got to make sure that neighborhoods and communities get development all across the city.”
Watch the video below to learn more about the candidates and don’t forget to vote in the Municipal Election on November 2, 2021.
Learn more about the upcoming 2021 mayoral race in the City of Columbia, South Carolina. Local residents had an opportunity to get to know each of the candidates before heading to the polls and casting their vote during the Municipal Election on November 2, 2021.