Columbia mayoral candidate Sam Johnson gains endorsements from 2 city council members

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Laurryn Salem
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

From the site of a future affordable housing development on Farrow Road in North Columbia, Columbia City Council members Sam Davis and Ed McDowell announced their endorsements for mayoral candidate Sam Johnson.

The location was significant because it featured a shared vision for the Columbia’s future, according to McDowell. Private developer Lewis Lynn is establishing affordable and workforce homes at 5554 Farrow Road, which has been an objective of the city council for the last decade, said Johnson.

“I have been impressed by the leadership abilities of Sam Johnson, so I stand here today as an endorser and supporter of his campaign,” said McDowell. “I’ve been impressed by Sam’s vision for our city. He has demonstrated his vision over and over and over again.”

A former top aid to Mayor Steve Benjamin and a consultant with NP Strategy public relations firm, Johnson announced his mayoral candidacy Feb. 8.

Johnson worked under Benjamin for six years and is now trying to take a turn at leading the city. Benjamin, who has served three terms as mayor, announced he would not run for re-election in early February. Following his announcement, Johnson and city council members Tameika Isaac Devine and Daniel Rickenmann announced their candidacies for mayor in the November election.

After 23 years as the District 1 representative on Columbia City Council, Davis announced he would not run for re-election in January. District 1 includes northern parts of Columbia.

McDowell represents District 2, which includes much of downtown, northeast and the historic Waverly neighborhood of Columbia. McDowell has served on city council since 2016 and has served as a pastor and community activist in Columbia. He serves on the the Racial and Reconciliation Committee and the S.C. Conference Council on Finance and Administration, according to the city’s website.

Johnson reported receiving $13,646 in campaign donations in his first campaign disclosure in the race, according to records from the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Rickenmann donated $1,000 to his campaign and Devine reported donations of $1,500 initially.

McDowell also offered support of Johnson’s push to appoint a chief health officer for the city in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson called on the city to hire someone for this city leadership position last month.

Municipal elections are Nov. 2 and filing is likely to open in August. The seats up for election this year are mayor, Davis’ District 1, District 4, which is currently held by Rickenmann, and the at-large seat held by Devine.

“It’s not an early commitment to me because I’ve had the opportunity to work with Sam and observe him and to really assess his skills,” McDowell said.

Johnson, 33, is a resident of the Elmwood park neighborhood and a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. This is his first time seeking elected office.

Davis said that Johnson’s work to build a pool and playground in the Greenview neighborhood, work to bring minority businesses to the BullStreet District, rebuild the city’s finances after the Great Recession and efforts to bring businesses to the North Main corridor are examples of his leadership.

“I’ve always known that Sam is a person who does not express empty promises, and that’s very important when it comes to leadership,” Davis said.

One of the biggest challenges the next mayor may address is the tax code. After the city commissioned a property tax analysis study last year, it was reported that the Columbia area has the highest property taxes in the state among large metros.

“I’m proud to stand with these two leaders today because this is our vision — a Columbia where every man, woman and child has an opportunity to live up to their god-given potential in a city of ideas, a city of opportunity,” said Johnson.