Tuesday's Columbia City Council races turned out to be a mixed bag for the three incumbents who were seeking re-election: One held onto his seat, one lost his post and another is headed for a runoff.
In District 2, incumbent Councilman Ed McDowell was unofficially re-elected. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, McDowell had 1,183 votes (66 percent), while author and activist Catherine Fleming Bruce got 447 votes (25 percent) and businesswoman Anna Fonseca got 164 votes (9 percent). Columbia City Council's District 2 is in the central and northern portions of the city and is highlighted by longstanding, mostly African American neighborhoods such as Martin Luther King, Celia Saxon, Edgewood, Waverly and Booker Washington Heights, among others.
Meanwhile, there will be a changing of the guard in City Council District 3. Unofficial results show that design firm owner Will Brennan grabbed 2,516 votes (54 percent) in that race, besting educator John Loveday's 1,115 votes (24 percent) and incumbent Moe Baddourah's 1,063 votes (22 percent). District 3 is central and southeast Columbia, and includes neighborhoods like Rosewood, Shandon and Five Points.
The District 3 results will signal the end, at least for now, of Baddourah's time on Council. He served two terms, but the second term was marred with personal controversy, as he was arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2016 and it led to him being suspended from Council for a year and a half. He ultimately entered pre-trial intervention on the charge and was reinstated to his Council seat.
For Brennan, his election to the city District 3 seat is a redemption, of sorts, following his run in 2018 for the District 5 seat on Richland County Council. He lost that race in a hotly contested Democratic primary with Allison Terracio.
And then there's City Council's at-large race.
In that one, incumbent Howard Duvall finished first, with 4,655 votes (44 percent), but attorney Sara Middleton was hot on his heels with 3,769 votes (36 percent). Dylan Gunnels unofficially finished with 1,291 votes (12 percent), while Amadeo Geere got 814 votes (8 percent).
That means that Duvall and Middleton will square off in a runoff election on Nov. 19. The at-large seat is elected by voters citywide.
"The majority of Columbia didn't vote for the incumbent," Middleton posted to Facebook late Tuesday night. "Columbia wants a change and I'm excited to be a part of that change. Voters made a statement today — we want fresh ideas. We want a more business- and family-friendly community."
Middleton is a healthcare attorney and her family has been integral in revitalizing Main Street, particularly the 1600 block, where they own a number of businesses.
Duvall, who is seeking his second term on Council, is an Air Force veteran and is the former longtime director of the state Municipal Association.
In some other notable elections around the Midlands:
- There will be a new mayor in Irmo. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Town Councilman Barry Walker Sr. was resoundingly leading incumbent Mayor Hardy King and Mike Ward. Walker had 54 percent of the vote, to King's 26 percent and Ward's 20 percent.
- Eric Sickinger (28 percent) and Kelly Busch (26 percent) won seats on the Irmo Town Council, besting incumbents Mark Pouliot (17 percent) and Julius Waites (16 percent), and challenger Dan Newbanks (13 percent).
- West Columbia also is in line for a new mayor. City Councilman Tem Miles grabbed the mayoral seat, unofficially garnering 73 percent of the vote to Madison Duncan's 27 percent.