Larry Sypolt drops out of mayor's race, endorses Benjamin - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Larry Sypolt drops out of mayor's race, endorses Benjamin

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Sypolt dropped out of the race Monday morning to endorse Steve Benjamin. Sypolt dropped out of the race Monday morning to endorse Steve Benjamin.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Columbia businessman and former Richland County Sheriff's deputy Larry Sypolt has dropped out of the mayoral race a little over one week before the election.

Appearing with incumbent Mayor Steve Benjamin in front of the Columbia Police Department, Sypolt instead threw his support behind Benjamin.

Sypolt entered the race back in April and immediately declared public safety was the issue he was going to tackle if he were elected.

Sypolt wanted to merge the Richland County Sheriff's Department with the Columbia Police Department in a 4 to 5 year agreement between the departments to partner up and share resources.

He also put together a 13-point plan to attack crime. But over the past few weeks, Sypolt says starting with a prayer breakfast sponsored by the mayor, he came to know Benjamin and discovered he and the incumbent mayor shared many of the same views.

"With this race, it was never about the title for me, not about power, it's not about going against Steve or anything like that, but this was a decision best for the people of Columbia," said Sypolt.

Sypolt was the least well-funded of the three mayoral candidates. He says he raised about $7,000 compared to Benjamin, who has pulled in nearly a half million dollars for his re-election campaign.

Benjamin appointed Sypolt to a public safety task force which Benjamin intends to fully form within the next few days.

Councilman Moe Baddourah, Benjamin's now sole opponent in the Nov. 5 race, issued a statement ripping the mayor for holding Monday's news conference at police headquarters where the department has gone without a permanent chief for about six months following the resignation of Randy Scott.

Baddourah says a new chief should be the city's top priority.

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