Joe Azar has run for mayor of Columbia a lot of times.
He doesn’t know how many. (“You in the media know better than I do,” he says. “Everyone tells me how many times I’ve run; I say the past is the past. I’m not trying to win some kind of ‘Who’s run the most’ lottery.)
Free Times couldn’t figure out how many times he’s run, either, but we did dig up a city election preview from our April 1, 1998 issue in which we described him as a perennial candidate.
This year, though, Azar has decided not to run. He says he has other things to do. He’s been elected president of the Columbia Sertoma Club, he says, and business at Upstairs Audio is going well.
He’s not going to endorse someone for mayor — not exactly.
“I am unendorsing [Steve] Benjamin,” he says. “I am Anybody But Benjamin. ABB.”
He says he’s willing to help out both Larry Sypolt and Councilman Moe Baddourah, Mayor Benjamin’s two opponents.
And with that, the field is set. Filing for the city election ended Sept. 6.
Bruce Trezevant and incumbent Councilman Sam Davis will face off for the District 1 seat.
Todd Walter is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Leona Plaugh in District 4.
Tommy Burkett and incumbent Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine will appear on the at-large ballot.
Baddourah, Benjamin and Sypolt are running for mayor.
Also on the ballot: a bond referendum for the Richland Library.
To vote in the Nov. 5 election, residents must register to vote by Oct. 5. Absentee voting begins Oct. 4. The state’s new Voter ID law will be in effect for this election, meaning voters will be required to show a photo ID at the polls.
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