Will Brennan, right, sits with longtime family friend Frank Quinn, left, while counting votes by precinct on an Excel sheet during his victory party. (Photo by Madelyn Weston/Carolina News and Reporter)
Will Brennan won his second term by a commanding margin in the race for the Columbia City Council District 3 seat on Tuesday.
Brennan campaigned on improving public safety and attracting tourists to the city’s Congaree River. His website touted his accomplishments during his first term, such as advocating for more than $5 million for the police and fire departments and obtaining funding for various infrastructure improvement projects.
“We need to invest in our people and the city of Columbia to get creative on how to retain the talent that comes through the pipeline of public safety,” Brennan said. “Communities are the backbone of our city.”
Many voters in the district that encompasses the Shandon and Rosewood neighborhoods said they were focused on policies concerning public safety, the city’s water system and affordable housing.
“I’m looking at public safety, issues with people not having adequate housing,” said Elizabeth Sudduth, who voted in Ward 23 at Dreher High School. “I care a lot personally about clean water, and I care a lot about our schools.”
One of Brennan’s proudest accomplishments on council has been the progress made on the Shandon storm drainage improvements projects. Other neighborhoods, many of them poor, struggle with brown water and old pipelines, Brennan said. He plans to continue to push for improvements to city infrastructure.
“The first term you get elected on hope and vision,” Brennan said. “Second term is delivering on things.”
Voters said Brennan listens to neighborhoods.
“He’s been responsive whenever the neighborhood has asked for help,” said Jennifer Haworth, who voted at the Meadowfield precinct off Garners Ferry Road. She said she was concerned about homeless people.
One couple voted for Brennan at Dreher High School for similar reasons.
“He was very responsive,” said Evan Owen, who was with his wife.
Brennan hopes to attract tourists by developing the riverfront between Gervais Street and Blossom Street and keep graduates in Columbia.
“It’s the last untapped, beautiful portion of our three rivers, greenways and public investment,” Brennan said. “We’re going to build a world-class park that everybody, every citizen, and not just Columbia, Richland County, Lexington County, the Midlands, can enjoy.”
Brennan said he plans to support local school districts and parents.
“It’s, like, important to me that they care about public education,” said Gabby Cruz, who voted for Brennan and Tyler Bailey for the council’s at-large seat at Meadowfield. She also listed food security and healthcare as important issues.
Turnout was scattershot. There were 150 votes as of 3:34 p.m. at Southeast Library, used by voters in both the Brandon 1 and Brandon 2 precincts. Woodland Park had three merged precincts: Meadowfield, Bluff and Woodlands. It had 490 voters at 4:07 p.m. Nell Killy, poll clerk, said the machines were working and everything ran smoothly.
Midlands Technical College, which hosted voters from the South Beltline and Ward 17 precincts, had seen 414 voters by 5 p.m. And there were about 530 voters by 5:15 p.m. at Dreher High School, in the combined Ward 16 and 23. At the Lourie Center, 112 Ward 1 voters had cast ballots by 5:54 p.m.
Brennan, who grew up in Columbia, owns Brennan Works, a design and construction company, where he is director of project management and project development, according to his City Council webpage. He also owns Carolina Sky Development LLC, a commercial real estate development firm that focuses on historic preservation through adaptive reuse.
Brennan and his opponent, Moe Baddourah, had similar plans to improve public safety.
Baddourah wanted to reduce crime by working with law enforcement, according to his Facebook campaign page. He also wanted to improve city infrastructure such as the sewer system and lower taxes to support local businesses. Baddourah was known for constituent service during his previous time serving as the District 3 council representative, starting in 2012.
He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013, losing to Steve Benjamin, then again in 2021, losing to Daniel Rickenmann.
Baddourah lost his District 3 re-election bid in 2019 to Brennan after a 19-month suspension following an indictment on criminal domestic violence charges involving an altercation with his then-wife. Baddourah entered pre-trial intervention and was reinstated to office after the charges were settled.
Baddourah owns Badd Boys Café in Middleburg Plaza.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Brennan’s supporters gather at his victory party. (Photo by Madelyn Weston/Carolina News and Reporter)
A couple walks into the merged Ward 16 and 23 precincts at Dreher High School. (Photo by Madelyn Weston/Carolina News and Reporter)
Campaign signs for the Columbia City Council outside of Southeast Library on Garners Ferry Road. (Photo by Madelyn Weston/Carolina News and Reporter)