September 10, 2013

Group Delivers Signatures for 'Strong-Mayor' Petition

Columbia, SC - A group says they've got the signatures needed to force a vote to change Columbia's form of government.

"Let Columbia Vote" delivered the 12,533 signatures to city hall late Tuesday afternoon.

The group wants to hold a special election to change the form of government to what's known as a "strong-mayor" system. Currently, most of the power in Columbia's government is held by the city manager, who's in charge of the day-to-day administration of the city. The mayor has a vote on council, but it has no more weight than any other member of the governing body.

Current Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin has repeatedly stated he's like to see the city adopt the strong-mayor system, saying it would make him more effective in changing the city and bringing in reforms. Last month, he proposed to city council that they make the change; they voted down the suggestion.

State law says if 15 percent of eligible voters in a city sign the petition, and the county election commission certifies it, the city has to call an election.

Columbia is currently set to have its next mayoral election on November 5th, and the group would like the vote on the strong mayor petition to take place that same day. State law mandates that an election take place between 30 and 90 days after receiving a certified petition.

Contact Tony Santaella at