A fourth person has entered the race for an at-large seat on Columbia City Council.
Amadeo Geere, a resident of the Rosewood neighborhood who previously worked as a victim advocacy coordinator with the state Attorney General's office, filed to run for the at-large seat on Sept. 3. That seat currently is held by Councilman Howard Duvall, who has filed to seek re-election.
In addition to Geere and Duvall, attorney and businesswoman Sara Middleton and Dylan Gunnels, a refugee services coordinator with Lutheran Services Carolinas, also have filed to run for the at-large seat. The City of Columbia's municipal election is on Nov. 5.
A native of the small south Asian nation of Bhutan, Geere, 31, says he'd focus his efforts on helping low-income citizens in Columbia.
"I am just frustrated, like so many other Columbians," Geere tells Free Times. "Columbia is sitting in a good location and it has the potential to be a top ranking city, and yet it hasn't leaped to its full potential. I see the city is not connected to the lower income communities. It is very important. That's the reason I wanted to run and bring some changes."
Geere is seeking elected office for the first time. He says he recently left his position as a victim advocacy coordinator with the Attorney General's office to focus on his campaign. He is working as freelance interpreter.
The at-large hopeful says he would also encourage the city to partner with nonprofits and other agencies where necessary, particularly in the realm of parks and recreation initiatives with young people.
"I do see some sports facilities, like basketball courts, not being used," Geere says."I think, if we partner with local nonprofits or faith-based communities, and organize games or tournaments, not only for basketball, but other sports as well, then we would be able to encourage those kids. That's one way I'm looking. Mentorship programs are also very important."
Geere also insists he'd stress public safety in his campaign. It is an issue on the minds of many following a violent summer in Columbia. He says there must be community dialogue on the violence that has hampered the Capital City.
"There has to be public discourse," Geere says. "We need to debate on this issue. We need to hear people's opinions from all backgrounds, so that voices are heard."
Aside from the at-large seat, there are two other city spots up for election in November: the District 3 seat held by Moe Baddourah and the District 2 seat held by Ed McDowell. Those incumbents have filed to seek re-election.
Baddourah has already drawn two challengers: educator John Loveday and construction and design firm owner Will Brennan.
McDowell has not yet drawn a challenger. Filing for the municipal election remains open through Sept. 6.