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Upset win for Columbia City Council At Large seat

Published: Apr. 2, 2004 at 1:51 AM EST|Updated: Apr. 8, 2004 at 8:52 PM EDT
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District 2 - Cromartie
District 2 - Cromartie
District 3 - Sinclair
District 3 - Sinclair

(Columbia) April 7, 2004 - Voter turnout at the polls Tuesday for three Columbia City Council races was described light to moderate, but that didn't prevent an incumbent from losing his seat to a challenger.

Daniel Rickenmann defeated incumbent Jim Papadea and challenger Joe Azar in the hotly contested At Large seat. EW Cromartie defended his District 2 seat against Antonio Williams. Anne Sinclair retained her District 3 seat against challenger Walid Hakim.

Rickenmann won the At Large seat with 56% or 4538 votes to Papadea's 3100 votes with Azar in a distant third with 408 votes. Rickenmann is a Columbia businessman who owns Birds on A Wire, Yo Burrito and Ben & Jerry, all on Devine Street. This is his first run for public office. Papadea had held the seat since 1986.

Rickenmann, 34, celebrated his first political win with his family surrounding him, "I look really forward to working with everybody in the city. I've got a lot to do in the next four months to get ready for position, but we're excited."

Even Rickenmann is surprised with how big he won, "I thought it would be a tight rope, counting votes down to the last one. I'm happy with the turnout. I can't complain."

Despite the loss, Papadea is not second guessing his decisions. He was gracious in defeat, "I want to wish Daniel all the luck in the world. He's a really good guy. I want to congratulate him and all the people who supported him."
   
He says he's worked hard to help the city revitalize neighborhoods and attract new business, "I'm just proud of where the city is and I'm proud of where we've taken it."

He said on Wednesday it's time to get down to business and learn as much as he can before he takes office in four months, "I want to take some time meeting all of the department heads, really understand each part of what's going on."

Rickenmann says he will be a voice for small business owners on city council. Many Rickenmann supporters say this is just the beginning of his political career. Someone even shouted "the mayor's race is next" at the victory celebration.

The newest council member Wednesday morning speculated that early organization contributed to his win, "We had a decent base around here, but we decided to get our signs out early so that people could see it and they could start thinking about it. I think it helped. It made an easy introduction going into neighborhoods and to meet with different leaders."
    
Papadea says this is it for him in politics, and he will not run for office again.

Incumbent E.W. Cromartie defended his District 2 seat with 76% or 884 votes to Antonio Williams' 275 votes. Cromartie has served on Council since 1983. He is a lawyer specializing in real estate and civil issues.

Anne Sinclair retained her District 3 seat with 88% or 2531 votes to Walid Hakim's 326 votes. Sinclair has been on Council since 1988. She co-owns Resource Associates, a consulting and counseling firm.

Around 5:00pm some 300 or 25% of registered voters had voted since polls opened 7:00am at Dreher High School in Ward 16. Election Commission say officials the turnout at Dreher was pretty much representative of all wards.

The election commission says most voting places were free of lines and voters only encountered a couple of glitches. One ward reportedly opened late when a janitor arrived late at the school. The ten minute delay forced workers to hand out emergency ballots, because by law the polling places must be open at 7:00am.

The other members of the City Council are Mayor Bob Coble; Fourth District Councilman Hamilton Osborne Jr.; First District Councilman Sam Davis; and At-Large Councilwoman Tameika Isaac. Their terms are all up in 2006. Terms for the winners of Tuesday's elections end in 2008.

The Mayor and Council make policy and enact laws, rules and regulations in order to provide for future community and economic growth. Additionally, the Council provides the necessary support for the orderly and efficient operation of City services.

Reported by Catherine Reynolds
Updated 3:42pm by BrettWitt
Candidate information from the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce