Strong Mayor Returning to Columbia in 2013
Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 10:18AM
ColumbiaCents in Columbia city council, Politics, strong mayor

From Free Times - Mayor Benjamin and Councilwoman DevineWith the offer of Teresa Wilson as the City of Columbia City Manager interest in Strong Mayor was revived last week.

ColumbiaCents has learned from multiple sources that the Strong Mayor initiative is going to be "front and center" on councils agenda, scheduled tentatively for April.

Last year Councilwoman Gergel pushed council to place a referendum for Strong Mayor as one of her last official duties. The vote narrowly failed on a 4 to 3 vote.

When contacted Mayor Benjamin, who voted for the strong mayor referendum in 2012, acknowledged that there was still interest in Strong Mayor. "I have heard some discussion of a community led effort being considered," The Mayor told ColumbiaCents.

Interest in Strong Mayor was peaked this week with the appointment of Teresa Wilson as City Manager. A long term friend of Mayor Benjamin her experience level was questioned by council members Baddourah and Plaugh.

Finding the group that is asking for a public referendum has proven difficult though.

When asked Belinda Gergel commented via email, "Since leaving Council last summer I have been in Charleston and am not involved in any effort on the Strong Mayor initiative."

Councilman Runyan reaffirmed his support for Strong Mayor but did not comment on discussions in council. Councilwoman Devine stated that she was unaware that any push for Strong Mayor.

Sources say that any change of government would not be effective till after the next mayoral election in late 2013.


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