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      Mayoral candidates debate, others protest

      Outside, Aaron Johnson speaks to crowd.

      No invite, no problem for Mayoral candidate Aaron Johnson, who stood his ground Wednesday.

      I understand it TMs the right on anybody putting on an event like this to invite who they wish to attend, said mayoral candidate Aaron Johnson, but I know as a voter, I would want to hear from as many people as possible when it comes to making my decision on who is going to run my city.

      Along with candidates Sparkle Clark and Gary Myers, the trio stood outside of USC TMs Law Democrats and GOP Law Society TMs Mayoral Forum, because the group says they were told they don TMt meet a media standard.

      Discrimination is discrimination in any form, said mayoral candidate Sparkle Clark.

      The organizers declined comment, but issued a statement: The absence of appropriate polling or fundraising data forced us to turn to the media.

      This is to be expected of the way political entities operate in Columbia, says mayoral candidate Gary Myers, and in some point in time, we have got to fight to change that.

      The candidates mingled with supporters outside, while their competitors shared the stage inside.

      Joseph Azar, Kirkman Finlay, and Steve Morrison fielded questions from the audience. Steve Benjamin was invited to the forum, but did not attend.

      I guess they had to draw the line somewhere, said USC student Sarah Van Wye.

      Nobody can make an informed decision if they don TMt hear all sides, said Rachel Thomason of Columbia.

      Although the candidate TMs protest was small in size, they hope it made an impact.

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