Columbia residents vote against strong mayor

The people of Columbia have voted against the strong mayor referendum.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - The people of Columbia have voted against the strong mayor referendum.

Unofficial results show that just over 56% of the voters were against the change of government.

"We're still going to push towards that vision," said Mayor Steve Benjamin. "It's going to take a little longer, work a little harder, but we're going to continue to keep our eyes on the prize."

The strong mayor debate brought several issues concerning Columbia residents to light.

Those against the change argued a strong mayor system could potentially create an environment that would breed corruption, and take away the people's ability to be heard by city council.

Mayor Steve Benjamin opposed that argument saying a strong mayor form of government was to gain more power, but to give citizens someone to hold accountable for the decisions made in Columbia.

Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine says now that the strong mayor issue has been resolved, those against and for the change in the form of government should come together for the betterment of Columbia.

"Some of the things that were addressed in this debate that people take issues with, we need to address those and show that those can be addressed during this form of government," said Devine.

Under the council-manager form of government, the mayor and council will have equal power. The city manager will continue to oversee more than two thousand employees and the city's finances.

Though the form of government will not change, city council did vote to increase the Mayor's salary from $17,500 to $75,000 a year.