Columbia asks mayoral candidates to promise positive campaigns

By Jordan Sandler - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Candidates running for mayor of Columbia are being asked to sign a pledge to keep the political climate clean and clear for 2010.

"We do enough in South Carolina to shoot ourselves in the foot and we're just trying to bring a stop to it," said Ike McLeese with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

McLeese says the city's reputation is in need of a clean political season after 2009 dropped too many events that reflected poorly on the area.

Now, in the midst of a competitive race for mayor, McLeese fears another negative story could damage the reputation even further.

"It would make it that much more difficult the next time we're trying to get a business to stay here," he said.

The chamber of commerce drafted a pledge asking every candidate to abide by seven promises.

"Basically it's asking them to follow basic decency and have restraint about what they say about each other," he said. "And also to not be harmful toward the city and the community and they way they portray things."

Monday night, every candidate said they would sign it.

"I will sign the pledge," said Steve Benjamin. "I think it's a move in the right direction. It's important that we run strong, vigorous, positive campaigns."

"Yes, I'll sign it," said Gary Myers. "It basically states or asks if I will be a gentleman and what my mother raised, and so that's pretty easy."

"It's a fair, open, honest campaign," said Sparkle Clark. "That's what I was gonna do in the first place, so this is good."

"It's worded very well, it seems fantastic," said Aaron Johnson.

Joseph Azar said he'll sign it as well, but he doesn't believe it will hold much water.

"I would love to see all the candidates live by it, but we know that's not gonna happen," said Azar. "Politics is a blood-sport, we know that. There's been dirty tricks played in every campaign."

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.