July 19, 2013

Benjamin seeks reelection, running on his record

Mayor Steve Benjamin hopes to be elected to a second term in November’s election.

According to Benjamin, his record includes four straight years of budget surplus, continuing reduction in crime, and three straight years of not increasing taxes.

The former police chief Randy Scott, who resigned in April for personal reasons has to be replaced. Ruben Santiago, deputy chief of operations, was promoted to interim chief. Santiago is considered by Benjamin to be a viable candidate for the opening.

One of the advantages to the Bull Street development, according to Benjamin, is the increase in available jobs. Benjamin says, Columbia has had a reduction in unemployment by 3% since he arrived in office.

According to Benjamin, 30 new businesses have opened along Main Street. Five new restaurants will be coming in the fall of 2013.

The change in election date was, according to Benjamin, to make it easier for the public. “It doesn’t benefit any politician; it benefits the people of the city. Hopefully, we’ll see increased participation.”

If elected, Benjamin says, “We’re going to continue pushing hard for a vibrant and engaged level of government. We’re going to continue investing in downtown and job creation. We’re going to continue in investing in an innovative and efficient government. We’re going to continue investing in public safety. We’re going to continue investing in the arts and culture, and all the things that make the fabric of the city something special. We’re going to continue focusing on building strong regional partnerships that benefit the entire city. I feel comfortably that we are on the right track.”

One issue that could potentially pop up along the campaign trail is Benjamin’s car wreck shortly after his election in 2010. Deborah Rubens, the other driver, was severly injured in the accident. She passed away last August after a battle with cancer.

“It was an accident and it was one of the darkest and most defining periods of my life. I am a prayerful man and its odd how sometimes you can tell God what you want and God gives you what you need. His message to me was that life was precious.”

With an opportunity to have a second term in office as mayor, Benjamin would like to lead Columbia to reaching its potential.

“I feel strongly that Columbia is on the right track. It’s time for our potential to meet our present. It’s our time. We always talk about our potential, it’s time for our potential to meet our present. It’s now.”

Contact Josh Cruse at

Columbia Star