This passage, in The State‘s advance story about Steve Benjamin’s expected announcement that he will seek re-election as mayor of Columbia, struck me:
Benjamin will be a latecomer to the race. Already, city council member Moe Baddourah, a restaurateur, and Larry Sypolt, a former FBI analyst, have announced for mayor…
Latecomer? Yeah, technically, others had announced before he did, but that’s not the way we think of it, is it? We tend to see the incumbent as already being in it, and the others who announce as challengers to the assumed candidate for re-election. If an incumbent does not run for re-election, that is news.
Much to the chagrin of Doug Ross and others who favor term limits…
Specifically, Steve Benjamin has seemed like he was running since he was first elected, maintaining a higher profile than his predecessor, and taking his communications efforts seriously from the beginning. He is, after all the first major to have the staff to do so.
Some may think I’m being critical in that previous paragraph. No, I think effective communications happen to be an essential element in leadership. And Mr. Benjamin has tried to be more of a leader than Columbia’s weak mayoral position would normally allow.
I like that he’s running on a platform of creating a strong-mayor system. But that makes me wonder — weren’t we talking about that in the last election? Why hasn’t it happened? (OK, yeah, I sort of know reasons it didn’t happen; I was being rhetorical.)
I didn’t make it to Benjamin’s announcement today. Here’s a release about it:
MAYOR BENJAMIN LAUNCHES RE-ELECTION BID
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin on Monday announced that he will seek re-election in the upcoming November 5 municipal election.
“Today, I am announcing that I will be a candidate for re-election and today we are launching our 2013 campaign,” Benjamin told reporters, supporters and onlookers during a morning press conference at the corner of Main and Taylor Streets in Downtown Columbia.
“Since I became Mayor three years ago, we have made a great deal of progress,” said Benjamin. “We’ve increased transparency, improved efficiency and cut waste. We’ve generated a budget surplus for three straight years, improved our credit rating, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars by restructuring government.
“We’ve created thousands of jobs, secured billions of dollars in capital investments and cut unemployment by over two-and-a-half percent. We’ve led an economic and cultural renaissance here on Main Street and throughout our city. We continue to build lasting regional partnerships toward a vibrant, dynamic 21st century Columbia.
“But most importantly, we’ve invested a tremendous amount in improving public safety. As a result, crime is down across the city in nearly every category and our first responders have the resources they need to keep our city safe.”
Benjamin, who took office in July 2010 after a hotly contested election to replace long-serving Mayor Bob Coble, promised to once again run a clean, positive campaign.
“I will focus clearly on what our community has accomplished so far and the positive things we can do together in the months and years ahead,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin will hold an official campaign kick-off event open to the public on Monday, May 20 at 5:30 pm at Tapps Art Center on Main Street.
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I did make it to a fund-raiser for Moe Baddourah a couple of weeks ago. Not much to report. There were only about seven or eight people there, but I only stayed a few minutes, and it was a drop-in. Also, it’s very early in the campaign. Moe told me he had knocked on 2,700 doors so far, so he’s out there working.
One of Mr. Baddourah’s supporters told me the thing that had made him want to support the councilman was the recent decision by the city to buy the cotton warehouse.
That’s the thing about being the incumbent. For good or ill, you have a record…