Columbia, SC (WLTX) - City of Columbia voters have rejected a referendum that would have changed the city's form of government.
The measurelost by acomfortable margin, 57 percent to 43 percent, with a vote differential of just over 1,600.
Here are the results: (100% of precincts reporting)
No - 6,684 (57%)
Yes -5,055 (43%)
The proposal would have switched the city's government from a council-manager to what's known as a mayor-council system. If it had passed, the functions and authority that currently reside with the city manager would have beengiven to the mayor. The mayor would also havebecome a full-time position rather than part-time.
Supporters of the measure said it would haveallowed the mayor to make larger decisions without the approval of council, which could help matters such as public safety. They also said it increases accountability, allowing voters to make a direct choice on who runs the government.
Incumbent Mayor Steve Benjamin had been one of the chief proponents of the effort.
He says low voter turnout played a factor in the vote not going his way.
"The people have spoken and you have to respect the people's decision. I have been involved in campaigns and elections for some time and you win some and you lose some but you have to remain committed to the fact that this is public service and we will continue working together under the current system to make Columbia the great city it can be," said Benjamin.
Those against it said this form of government is too much power for one person to have. They also said the city needs a professional manager, rather than a politician, to administer city business.
About 16 percent of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots.