Recently, I’ve been asked often why I care so much about the city of Columbia. I grew up here. My first job was at Trustus Theatre in the Vista, and I’ve had so many formative experiences here. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen the city come together in a way that I never expected in the face of a disaster. This has only strengthened my belief that Columbia deserves strong leadership and vision, especially as we recover from the floods. I’ve been closely following the candidates for City Council, and I’ve come to a point where I firmly believe that Andy Smith is the person I most trust to help lead Columbia to new heights.
If you didn’t already know, Andy is the Executive Director of the Nickelodeon Theatre, which is Columbia’s independent cinema. Annually, it hosts the Indie Grits Film Festival, which draws nearly 10,000 people to screenings and events. He’s been a part of the complete overhaul of Main Street, and he’s led numerous community initiatives to make Columbia a more diverse, safe, and vibrant place. Andy has proven that he knows how to think big, and that he has a vision that looks at both the immediate fixes that the city needs, as well as the long-term investments that we have to make. We need people on the Columbia City Council who are ready to bring big ideas to showcase Columbia and make it even more of a unique and thriving city.
We need members of the City Council who are dedicated to making sure that everyone in the community is treated with compassion and dignity. While Andy has been fighting for LGBTQ rights and volunteering for flood relief efforts, the incumbent, Cameron Runyan, has made the City Council a complete laughingstock. He has introduced efforts to criminalize homelessness, turned his back on the LGBTQ community that he once pledged to support, and has been voted “Biggest Waste of Public Funds” by readers of the Free Times.
The choice has become abundantly clear. We have a candidate who can help bring Columbia to prominence with big ideas on diversity, inclusiveness, creativity, and entrepreneurship. We have an incumbent who has brought Columbia to prominence with inane proposals and a heartbreaking turn against equality and justice for all.
On Tuesday, we have an important choice to make. Of the 133,358 people in the city, 69,136 are registered to vote. 8,420 people voted in the last city council election, with 4,858 choosing the winner. If 25% of the student body voted in this election, we could double the turnout and give ourselves a voice in local policy. These things matter in our daily lives, and they are worth taking 20 minutes to go vote.
If you want to live in a city that thinks big, that cares for all of its citizens, and that supports a growing and vibrant economy, then join me on Tuesday to vote for Andy Smith for Columbia City Council.
Cory C. Alpert
UofSC Relief Organizer
UofSC Class of 2017