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What's at stake for Columbia on Election Day?

On Tuesday, Columbia residents will head to the polls to cast their ballots on who should be Columbia's new mayor, and should be on city council.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Election day for the City of Columbia is on November 2. This election will bring many changes to city council.

Three city council seats will be filled by someone new, and Columbia will have a new mayor for the first time in 11 years. 

Sara Lara was born and raised in Columbia. She said it's important for everyone to vote during Tuesday's election. 

"It’s been painful to watch my city not be as great as it can," Lara said. "Hopefully with my generation coming out and people below me, we kinda make changes happen."

Lara said voting for a new mayor and council members will allow for improvement in the city. 

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"A lot of people my age, and my friends want to see change here in Columbia," Lara said. "I know this is the only way we’re going to make progress with that."

Evan Cowles is another resident of the Capital City. He said it's extremely important for other residents to vote during the city council election. 

"A lot of people have been discouraged and disheartened in the whole voting process lately, over the last couple of years for elections," Cowles said. "And it’s just important to go out there, and speak your mind and make your opinion heard. Otherwise those changes that you want are never gonna come around."

On Tuesday, around 83,000 Columbia residents have the chance to vote on who will fill seats now held by Council Members Sam Davis, Daniel Rickenmann, and Tameika Isaac-Devine. According to Councilman Howard Duvall, only 10 to 15 percent of registered voters vote in their local government elections. 

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"It’s going to be a learning process for all of us," Duvall said. "The three of us that will remain on council and the three or four that will come on to council."

Councilman Duvall, Will Brennan, and Ed McDowell are the only three council members staying in their roles. Their current terms don't end until 2023. 

"It’s gonna be a real challenge to get them up and running," Councilman Duvall said. "We are in the City Manager form of government so they need to understand how that government operates. We’re also a continuing body, councils that are elected in South Carolina are continuing bodies. So, subjects that we’ve already started working on, projects that we started working on, continue into the new council."

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Councilman McDowell said everyone needs to vote on Tuesday. He said the outcome of the election will shape how Columbia will look for years to come. 

"We need everybody to vote," McDowell said. "Everybody needs to be a part of the democratic process that's going to encase this community starting tomorrow morning."

He also said all the candidates are unique and adds to city council, but it's the communities responsibility to pick who will represent their district.  

"If we're going to make our city great, if we're going to continue to expand the city of ours, we need participation," McDowell said. "We cannot be a part of anything with all persons being disjointed. We understand our own individual philosophies. We understand the political parameters that each one of us have. But the bottom line is how do we speak up and create a sense of positivity."

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