There was standing room only Wednesday night as the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council hosted the four candidates in the Columbia city council runoff election Nov. 17.
Our own Brad Warthen, ADCO’s director of communications/public relations, moderated the discussion along with Henri Baskins, executive director of the CRC.
Participating were at-large council candidates Howard Duvall and Andy Smith, and District 2 council candidates Ed McDowell and Aaron Bishop. The candidates were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 3 election, but since none of them garnered a majority of the vote, they face each other in a runoff Tuesday.
The discussion was lively and seemed to fully engage the interest of audience of about 100. The event was covered by The State, Free Times, WIS-TV, ABC Columbia and WACH-Fox. Follow the links to read and view their coverage.
An excerpt from The State‘s coverage:
Neither citywide candidates Howard Duvall or Andy Smith, nor District 2 contenders Aaron Bishop or Ed McDowell Jr., laid out significant new proposals for 75 minutes before a packed and animated crowd at the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce building.But digs about political coalitions and whether the new council members would be beholden to either Mayor Steve Benjamin or disgraced, former longtime Councilman E.W. Cromartie consumed much of the conversation at the forum organized by the Columbia Community Relations Council.
“Mayor Benjamin has no more control of my campaign than Cromartie has over his,” Smith, who’s been endorsed by the mayor, said of Duvall. Last week, Benjamin coined the phrase “a Duvall-Cromartie coalition” in responding to Duvall characterizing himself and McDowell as councilmen who would question some of Benjamin’s proposals.
Smith on Wednesday to about 100 people dismissed “these conspiracy theories about the powerful Mayor Benjamin.” Citing his opposition to publicly funding Columbia’s new baseball stadium, Smith said he and Bishop are independent thinkers. Benjamin also is championing Bishop in the District 2 race.
“That is being a little naive and that is showing his 36 years,” Duvall shot back, stressing the political newcomer’s lack of experience compared to the 72-year-old Duvall’s decades of work in municipal government….