Mayoral candidates make last push for votes ahead of Nov. 5 - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Mayoral candidates make last push for votes ahead of Nov. 5 election

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There's just a few days left before voters head to the polls to decide county and city races and a couple of key referenda issues on Nov. 5.

In the City of Columbia, it's a showdown between two members of City Council, one of them the high-profile, well financed incumbent.

With a massive lead in fundraising the campaign to re-elect Mayor Steve Benjamin has begun spending some of that money on TV ads.

One released this week spotlights what the ad calls a historic agreement between the City of Columbia and the Richland County Sheriff's Department. 

An effort by the Benjamin campaign to reinforce the mayor's work on public safety possibly the top issue for the candidates over the last few weeks.

"These mutual aid agreements are key," Benjamin said. "And we need to make sure we keep building them as we move forward. We need to make sure we have as much of a law enforcement coordinating council as possible."

Benjamin's now-lone challenger Councilman Moe Baddourah does not have the incumbent's war chest.

And Baddourah says he's not impressed by the TV spot.

"The mayor likes to be in front of the camera all the time and not addressing the issues with public safety," Baddourah said "He's still neglecting that there's a violent crime issue in the city."

Baddourah's campaign headquarters is stacked with election materials to be delivered over the weekend.

He continues to downplay the importance of Benjamin's financial resources.

The mayor's latest disclosure statement shows he's already spent more than $289,000 to win another term.

That's 15 times what Baddourah last reported he had spent.

"I think connecting with the people and one-on-one contact is what's going to win this race and that's what I've been doing," Baddourah said. "I've been going out to people's homes to talk about their concerns and issues. And No. 1 is public safety."

Baddourah also disputes recent polling results showing Benjamin with a 39 point lead.

That poll had a relatively small sample and also showed roughly a third of voters as undecided.

Voters will see a ballot with Larry Sypolt's name on it but Sypolt dropped out earlier this week and threw his support to Benjamin.

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