The race is heating up for two seats on Columbia's city council

The race is heating up for two seats on Columbia's city council

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - No one signed up to run against Mayor Steve Benjamin, so a new term for him is already secure. But two of the mayor's allies on council have drawn some competition.

One of those races is for an at-large seat currently held by Tameika Isaac Devine. Devine said she's been a reachable, effective member of the council.

"Some of the things that are high on my priority list right now in another term is, number one, making sure that we are providing law enforcement with effective tools to be effectively policing," she said.

Devine is facing common council critic, Five Points businessman Joseph Azar, who wants to overhaul water and sewer and revamp property taxes.

"We have got to reign that in because we're gentrifying this city. We are running grandma and granddad out. They can't afford their property taxes," he said.

The other race is for District One, which covers parts of North Columbia like North Main and some of Harbison. Longtime Councilman Sam Davis wants another term, and he said he deserves one.

"We're going to build on the momentum that we have now. The streetscaping – the $50 million going up North Main – has sparked development," Davis said.

His challenger, 27-year-old Chris Sullivan, said he hasn't noticed and wants to focus on improving public safety and city services.

"One of the things that we're going to request is a forensic audit of our water/sewer fund. We want to know where the money has gone for the past 20 years and if there's any criminal activity in that process," Sullivan said.

The election will happen on Nov. 7 and everyone who lives in the city can vote in at least one of the two main races.

The League of Women Voters of the Columbia Area recently held a forum with the candidates. To see transcripts of the forum, click here.

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