Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Columbia City Council voted Wednesday night to put a vote on a changing Columbia's form of government to a special election in December.
The council's decision was a 4-3 vote, with councilmembers Leona Plaugh, Tameka Isaac Devine, Moe Baddaurah and Sam Davis voting for the special election, with Mayor Steve Benjamin, Cameron Runyan, and Brian Newman voting against the measure.
The vote would take place December 3rd.
A group has gathered signatures to get the so-called "strong-mayor" proposal on the ballot for voters to decide. Under a strong-mayor form of government, the mayor would assume the daily duties of the city manager, who would move to a city administrator role.
Mayor Benjamin himself has been a proponent of the change. He and others in the community who support the plan wanted to hold the vote on the same day as the municipal elections, which are set for November 5th.
Benjamin, who is running for re-election, says this decision was a vote that will waste taxpayer dollars.
"My collegues wasted 150,000 dollars of taxpayer dollars today," he said. "The voters demanded that we set the election and that is what is so important. I wanted to make sure we know that because some of my collegues are trying to say that they support democracy. The reality is that they are being forced to have this election by the people of Columbia."
Baddourah, who is running against Benjamin, said voters need more time to understand what's at stake.
"People when I give them the resolution they don't understand what it means and that's what we need to concentrate on and educate them about what it means," Baddourah said. "For now I think it is a win win for the public because it gives them enough time to get engaged in the education process before they vote."
Council members say they should know if the votes are certified by end of Thursday.