COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There have been many changes in Columbia's second district lately. In about two weeks, neighbors there have gone from having a veteran councilman to no representation at all.
So far at least seven people are vying for the seat left open by E. W. Cromartie's resignation after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion charges.
Since last week, more and more candidates have entered the race there. First, Brian Dequincey Newman, Harold "Puff" Howard, Alex Furgess, and Antonio Williams entered the race. Since then, three new candidates have started vying for the open seat.
"I know what it's like to feel disempowered," said Josh Stroman, 24.
Stroman will graduate with a masters degree from Harvard in may. He says he's running for city council to give back to the district in Columbia where he had a tough childhood.
"My mother died when I was seven years old, my dad when I was 13," he said.
Stroman says as a teen he got lured into bad activities, but local mentors inspired him toward academic success. He believes the best way to inspire the dreams of others is to give the local economy a boost.
"If we want to make this city a business friendly city, we want to bring jobs to the city, we want to help businesses rise in this city, we've got to lower the tax burden on them," said Stroman.
Emma McGraw Myers says she's already been serving Columbia's district two for years.
"I'm not coming in from somewhere else and learning, and I think that my record speaks for itself," she said.
She's the daughter of former community leader Isaac McGraw, and the owner of two businesses one that provides assistance to the elderly, the other fundraises for non-profit and for profit companies.
"With unemployment at the rates that it is, we need to find training programs and look at how we can put people back to work," said Myers.
In addition, retired Army Lt. Colonel Gary Myers dropped out of the mayor's race and entered the already crowded District II race.
"We're hear today to announce we're going to rise above the petty politics and move Columbia toward a better, bright future," said Myers at his Thursday press conference.
Myers grew up in District II, and says the area needs a rebirth.
"When we sit down, lay out our strategy and move forward we will have safer neighborhoods, we will have higher performing schools because we will support them and we will have using that as a foundation, an economic strategy that benefits both sides of town," Myers said.
They're three new candidates trying to get their message out, with less than three weeks to go. Currently the election is set for April 6, though some have mounted a legal challenge to postpone it.