District Two campaign ramps up, but legal challenge looms

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The debate over when to hold Columbia's District Two election faces a court challenge Thursday.

Last Wednesday, the city set a date of April 6, which gave candidates only a few weeks to stump for a seat on city council. 

The hearing could postpone the election, but for the time being, the candidates are trying to ramp up their campaigns as quickly as possible.

Veteran District Two candidate Antonio Williams was originally shooting for the at-large council seat, but quickly changed his campaign to try and get the newly-vacant District Two seat. He unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2004.

"I know the infrastructure, the water and the sewage," said Williams. "I have the knowledge of this. And I have the great concerns of the people in District Two that I can be their representative in this short period of time."

Williams had already been handing out flyers in his at-large race. He'll need some new ones to get his positions out as he goes door to door in District Two.

A couple of blocks off Two Notch Road, Harold "Puff"Howard has built his name recognition in a different way. He has been running a garage and towing business for years.

"I've always been active in the community," said Howard. "I never had to labor as a politician or had a title. But I've always been involved in any and everything that was positive for the community."

Like all the candidates, Howard is aware that he has little time to get his message out.

"We run a basic, simple campaign," said Howard. "You know cell phones help a lot. Word of mouth has always been a plus. We're coming out with our mail."

Attorney Brian DeQuincey Newman is one step ahead on that part of the campaign. His materials are already in District Two mailboxes.

"It hinges on getting in touch with people," said Newman. "You know, whether it's by mail or ideally face to face conversations, phone calls when face to face conversations are not available."

Late Wednesday afternoon, another candidate has joined the fray. Emma McGraw Myers is now officially listed as a candidate by the city clerk's office.

Myers is an adjunct professor in USC's College of Social Work. She has also been active in the Jones-McDonald Neighborhood Association. Myers says the council contest marks her first attempt at public office. She says her key issues include job creation, crime and community revitalization.

But Thursday's court hearing could change everything. Circuit Judge Jim Barber is being asked to block the April 6 vote by Columbia resident Paul Denman.

Denman's complaint says in part, voters need more time to make a well-informed choice.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.