One day to go in Columbia mayoral campaign

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After a weekend that turned into a war of words, Kirkman Finlay and Steve Benjamin are hitting the streets today.  Steve Benjamin toured Owens Steel this morning.  Kirkman Finlay is speaking to the media at 1pm on the steps of City Hall.

Both camps say they will also be canvassing various neighborhoods in Columbia.  Benjamin says, "we literally have events and door knockings in southeast Columbia, woodlands, in Shandon, in Greenview, in the east central part of town near Harden and Taylor street, we're really looking everywhere."

Finlay says, "It's all about hitting the streets, advertising, talking to people, just being out and amongst it. Everybody is out trying to determine if they can get their voters out again and many of Morrison's voters they can get."

This weekend, the race turned into a war of words between both candidates about back taxes Finlay owes Richland County and who leaked that information.

Richland County Treasurer David Adams says Finlay's company, Chapel Hill LLC, owes about $700 for two properties in Richland County and more than $3,000 on two Rising High Bread Company Restaurants.

On Friday, Benjamin released a statement saying, "None of us are perfect, but considering how often councilman Finlay has spoken on the need to bring fiscal accountability to city hall, I would have expected better from him."

Finlay fired back saying, "My opponent has had a small army of people trying to find anything negative on me. I am saddened and disappointed in Mr. Benjamin. I expected better of him."

Both campaigns took a timeout on Sunday to discuss the issue. Finlay calls the revelation an attack by the Benjamin campaign.

"I think it's strange credibility that stuff appears on the Friday, the day after tax season where nobody's accountants are in. All of a sudden it appears at 11 o' clock in the midst of a news cycle, it's almost miraculous isn't it?" said Finlay.

In a statement, Finlay says a mistake was made on the Northeast Richland County properties.

"Two families who had bought properties from me were incorrectly assessed at the rental rate of 6 percent as opposed to the primary residence rate of 4 percent," said Finlay.

Benjamin denies having anything to do with the story. Finlay doesn't believe him.

"First they disclaimed any knowledge of it," said Finlay. "Then they said they had it, but didn't leak it. I don't know seems a little odd to me. Maybe I just don't understand it, but it sure is interesting."

"Mr. Finlay said it's an honest mistake and I have no reason not to believe him in that regard," said Benjamin, "This campaign has been about ways we can move the city forward together."

Both candidates plan on moving forward quickly, by talking to voters and passing out as many flyers as they can before Tuesday.

Finlay said he is unaware that Rising High owes Richland County any money, but said if it turns out that he does owe money, he will pay it.

Stay with WIS for the latest on this race.

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