COLUMBIA — Tameika Isaac Devine held a “stress relief” campaign party Tuesday night as she awaited results from her at-large city council race, but she needn’t have worried.
Isaac Devine, 40, easily cruised to a fourth term, defeating Tommy Burkett, an electrical contractor who hoped to capitalize on disenchantment with City Hall.
“I have a lot of goals, but I know from the last three terms, priorities from the city are always changing,” she said. “I will continue to be a very thoughtful member of council.”
Two other incumbents, Sam Davis in District 1 and Leona Plaugh in District 4, also were returned to council in a off-year election that garnered light but steady turnout. The race for mayor was the signature contest with incumbent Mayor Steve Benjamin defeating his opponent, Councilman Moe Baddourah.
The election sets the stage for the Dec. 3 referendum that will determine if Columbia will go to a “strong mayor” form of government, a scenario that would give Benjamin and his successors greater clout over city affairs.
Isaac Devine, an opponent of the proposal, anticipates “a lot of money” will be invested in the referendum. She said her No. 1 priority over the next 30 days is to make sure that voters are well-educated on the issue before going to the polls.
For the first time since his election in 1998, Davis, 65, faced opposition, although he and his opponent, Bruce Trezevant, a former police officer who now works as an apprentice funeral director, were united in their opposition to a strong mayor.
They parted over the Bull Street redevelopment project. Davis, who endorsed the city’s multi-million dollar deal with Greenville developer Bob Hughes, took the big picture view of the plan, saying it will pay off for the city in years to come.
Trezevant, 54, contended the plan to build homes and a shopping center in the old state hospital property will be expensive and deprive other areas of the city with needed improvements. He advocated for more development in north Columbia, which District 1 encompasses along with St. Andrews and Harbison.
Plaugh, 63, cruised to an easy victory over opponent Todd Walter, 73, as a taxpayer advocate and a council member willing to say no to city projects. Walter had argued in his campaign that Plaugh, the former Columbia city manager, too often had no alternatives to offer. Both opposed a strong mayor.
District 4 stretches across the eastern and southern edges of the city, with a sliver extending into Northeast Richland. It includes Fort Jackson and areas around it, including the Heathwood part of the Hamptons and neighborhoods along Garners Ferry Road.