COLUMBIA, S.C. — WLTX invited each of the four candidates to attend the upcoming City of Columbia Mayoral Forum but only three agreed to take part, including: Moe Baddourah, Councilwoman Tameika Isaac-Devine and Sam Johnson.
News19 is partnering with the Columbia Urban League Young Professionals with WLTX's Darci Strickland as moderator for the September 14 event at 7 p.m. in Allen University's Historic Chappelle Auditorium.
Earlier this year, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin announced he was not running for a fourth term. That news opened the door for candidates looking to replace the city first black mayor, but who are the candidates and what do they stand for?
News19’s Brandon Taylor recently sat down with the candidates participating in the forum and asked them the same 5 questions. First up, a familiar face, former Columbia City Councilman Moe Baddourah.
WHO ARE YOU?
"My name is Moe Baddourah. I immigrated to Columbia in 1980 as a young man who came to pursue the American dream,” said Baddourah. "I just love public service. I love to be a problem solver. I love to dig my hands into stuff and find solutions for any situation, any challenges we have to better our community and better our citizens lives.”
WHY DO YOU WANT THE JOB?
"As mayor, you have a lot of responsibilities, but a lot of ways to improve the city itself and the quality of life for our citizens,” said Baddourah.
As a small business owner, Baddourah says he feels connected to the city and will use his personal experiences to connect with his constituents.
"I can represent the small businesses better than anybody else on council right now,” said Baddourah. “I can represent everyday single life, as a single father. I definitely connect with the fathers who are struggling and trying to make ends meet and do everything they can for their children.”
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE CITY?
“Well, my vision is to be the number one city in the country,” said Baddourah. "We want to be transparent. We want to put everything upfront. We want to make sure that everybody that pays taxes in the city understands where their money is spent. I want to make our city the safest city that it can possibly be. Not only by hiring more officers, but to put police substations in neighborhoods and bring community policing back."
WHAT’S YOUR PLATFORM?
"Number one, stop the corruption,” said Baddourah. “Number two, we want to bring community service back to our neighborhood. Number three, improve our infrastructure when it comes to water and sewer and roads and bridges. Number four is to eliminate business license fees for small businesses and bring big businesses to the area.”
WHY ARE YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE JOB?
"I think I am the perfect candidate, because I have the background experience and business background,” said Baddourah. “I have experience in government, budgeting and building government itself. But not only that, I know how to talk to other businesses -- how to get them to come to Columbia, so they can invest in our city and invest in our young talent that we need to keep here.”
This isn’t the first time Baddourah has run for Mayor. He was defeated back in the 2013 Mayoral race by current Mayor Steve Benjamin.
The 2021 election will be held Tuesday, November 2.
News19 wants to know what questions you have for the candidates.
Text your questions to (803) 776-9508, and don’t forget to include your name. Your questions might be asked during the WLTX Mayoral Forum on September 14.