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      Mayor Benjamin endorses Runyan in race for Rickenmann's seat

      Photo Credit: Cheryn Stone

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Columbia City Council candidate Cameron Runyan received a major endorsement for his campaign Wednesday morning.

      Mayor Steve Benjamin announced his support for Runyan, who is running for the at-large council seat being vacated by Daniel Rickenmann at the end of his term. The election will take place in April 2012.

      Benjamin says Runyan is the right person for the job.

      "When Cameron told me he was getting into the race I was very excited. Quite frankly, he is active, he is engaged, energetic leader in this community," Benjamin said. "He brings a fresh new face a new perspective to the challenges we face here in the City and on Columbia City Council."

      Runyan, 34, lost to Rickenmann in the 2008 race picking up 42 percent of the vote to Rickenmann's 54 percent.

      "Four years ago, I ran for this seat because I was frustrated with the trajectory of our city in the face of challenges that were before us at that time," Runyan said. "I am running for this seat because I am optimistic about the trajectory of our city in the face of the challenges before us today."

      Runyan has said his campaign platform will center on public safety, job creation and leadership.

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      "We do face challenges today," Runyan explained. "Many areas of our city are still dealing with very real crime issues. We have high unemployment in the face of a staggering national recession. Our bus system is running on fumes. We must continue to increase accountability and efficiency within the bureaucracy."

      Runyan is the first candidate to announce a bid for the seat. Former mayoral candidate Steve Morrison is rumored to be considering a run for the seat as well. A spokesman at his office had no comment Wednesday morning.

      According to Democratic campaign strategist Phil Bailey, candidates running for a city-wide council seat will need to spend at least $250,000 to mount an effective campaign.

      What do you think is the biggest issue facing candidates running for the at-large council seat next year? Vote in our poll and leave a comment to weigh in.