A candidate for Columbia mayor has picked up endorsements from leaders of a local community group that, among other things, works to address gun violence in the capital city.
Mayoral hopeful Sam Johnson on Monday got campaign endorsements from Perry Bradley and Melvin Whittenburg, who are with the nonprofit Building Better Communities. The announcement of their support for Johnson came at a news conference at Building Better Communities’ resource center on W. Beltline Boulevard.
Johnson, a former chief of staff for current Mayor Steve Benjamin, is one of three people currently running for mayor. The others are longtime at-large City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine and District 4 Councilman Daniel Rickenmann. Benjamin, who is in his third term, is not seeking reelection this year.
Whittenburg, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for SC secretary of state but lost to Republican incumbent Mark Hammond, said he and Bradley looked at all three mayoral candidates, but particularly liked what they saw in Johnson.
“We just felt Mr. Johnson was closely aligned with what we are doing here at BBC,” Whittenburg said Monday morning. “He’s educated, he’s young, he’s extremely experienced. ... He is sociable, and he’s not afraid to come back into the lower income communities and socialize with the people. That’s what we are about here at BBC, and that’s what he’s about. We think he has the leadership, the youth and the vision to lead the city of Columbia.”
Building Better Communities is set to have a gun violence prevention summit in July.
Johnson said he was honored to get endorsements from Bradley and Whittenburg and said partnerships with community groups will be critical in making serious inroads on the gun violence issues in the capital city.
“This campaign, from the start, has been talking about the work we have to do in Columbia,” Johnson said. “We know there are disparities and challenges we see everyday. We see, unfortunately, lives being taken away from us and young men throwing away their lives. What we have to do is wrap our arms around this community and make sure we are providing them with a future.”
Aside from mayor, this year’s city elections also will feature races for District 1, District 4 and an at-large seat on Council.
The city elections will be on Nov. 2, with runoffs on Nov. 16 if necessary. Filing will be in August.