The Columbia City Council contender who leads the District 2 race in fundraising got Mayor Steve Benjamin’s endorsement Monday and said he would have backed the mayor on two big-ticket decisions.
Richland 1 School Board member Aaron Bishop said he would have voted with Benjamin on the way City Hall is paying to develop the BullStreet Commons neighborhood and a professional baseball stadium.
“Yes, I would have supported it,” Bishop said when asked at an endorsement news conference about council’s split decision to spend $67.2 million for roads, sewers and other infrastructure in the 165-acre site and $29 million in public money to build a year-round stadium set to open in April.
“Aaron is not afraid to tackle tough issues,” Benjamin said at the steps of City Hall, where he has endorsed two candidates in the Nov. 3 election. “We need a visionary leader. We need Aaron Bishop in District 2.”
Last week, the mayor endorsed citywide candidate Andy Smith.
Bishop, one of five candidates in a race to succeed Councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman, called Benjamin’s endorsement “an awesome opportunity.”
Bishop said he agrees with Benjamin that using public funds as seed money will ignite millions of dollars in private, taxable investment in the former state Mental Health Department property in the city center.
Bishop, 40, disputed critics who have complained that he quietly had council annex his home into the city limits this summer. Without annexation, Bishop would have been ineligible to run for council. He has lived for about 10 years in a home between Gracern and Broad River roads near Sloan School.
“I didn’t sneak in,” Bishop said. “I followed a process. I filled out an application.”
He told The State newspaper that two other people in his neighborhood were annexed on the same day as his home.
Bishop would not take a position Monday on whether he would support a strong-mayor form of government, which Benjamin spearheaded two years ago. Under the law, a vote on changing the city’s form of government cannot reoccur until 2017, about the time Benjamin would be eligible for a third term.
Clif LeBlanc: 803-771-8664
Campaign finance update
Details were available Monday on two candidates for a citywide seat on Columbia City Council.
Incumbent Cameron Runyan received $29,901 in contributions during the most recent campaign disclosure reporting period. That brings his total in contributions to $116,651.
Runyan’s campaign filed the report on Oct. 19. But it was filed as a 2016 report, which listed the election day as April 5, 2016. Other candidates correctly filed their reports as 2015 disclosures. City Council moved elections from April to November starting with the 2013 campaign.
Citywide candidate Joe Azar on Saturday submitted his pre-election report, which shows he’s raised $350.