Filing for the office does not open until January. But the last time there was an open district seat on council - in 2008, when District 3 Councilwoman Anne Sinclair did not seek re-election - developer Brian Boyer and educator Belinda Gergel (who won) set a record for a district seat by raising a combined $418,000.
With that type of money needed to win a City Council seat, prospective candidates already are asking around to gauge their level of support before publicly announcing a run. In District 4, the potential candidates include:
- John Adams, a residential Realtor with Bollin Ligon Walker Realty who serves on the board of Historic Columbia and is a son of former Mayor Patton Adams
- Kevin Fisher, who ran a hard-fought race against Mayor Bob Coble in 2006 and is president of Fisher Communications, an advertising and public relations firm
- Tige Watts, a political consultant with Campaign Research Strategy and the former president of the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods
- Troy Roberts, a State Farm insurance agent who is originally from Sumter.
No one has declared officially for the race, with most saying they will make a decision by the end of the month.
"I think the combination of the amount of money that was required to be raised to run that (2008) race, the amount of time and the challenges that City Council currently faces, all could be barriers to entry into the race," Brantley said. "I've still got to feed my family and conduct a business that is my primary source of revenue."
Fisher, who spent $100,000 of his own money in his 2006 bid for mayor, was unavailable for comment, according to a spokeswoman.
Watts, who normally is sought after by City Council candidates for his political consulting, said, right now, he is leaning against running.
Adams said growing up watching his father in public office has bred him to "care about city government." He helped Cameron Runyan in Runyan's unsuccessful attempt to defeat Councilman Daniel Rickenmann in 2008.
Now, Adams says he wants to serve on council to correct what he sees as poor financial decisions, including the hiring of an assistant city manager to oversee the city's police and fire departments.
"I think that hire was a loss of salary every year that could go towards the fire and police departments instead of just an arbitrary position," Adams said.
McCutchen, who in 2006 helped Finlay launch the campaign for his sole City Council term, wants to change what he calls an unhealthy business climate in the Capital City.
"We've got high water and sewer rates and we've got high taxes for business properties," McCutchen said. "We need jobs if we're going to be a nice place to work and live."
Brantley said he is interested in developing the city's core, including Main Street and North Main Street.
"This is an opportunity to give back," Brantley said. "These are trying times right now with everything that is going on. I'd like to be involved in making the city a better place."