Historic Election in the Capital City

  • Nov 9, 2021
  • Melissa Watson Ward


Tuesday, November 2nd was a historic day in the capital city of Columbia. Tina Herbert, Emerge South Carolina Class of 2020, won her race for the Columbia City Council District 1 seat. Herbert, an attorney with Mickle & Bass, is the first Black woman to hold the office and only the second Black woman ever elected to city council. Herbert was a strong candidate for this seat and ran a really good campaign. This is not her first experience with the City of Columbia, at one point she ran the city’s Office of Business Opportunities. She also had the endorsement of the current seat holder, Sam Davis, who decided not to run for reelection. 

This upcoming Tuesday could prove to be a continuation of historic victories for Emerge South Carolina alumnae. Aditi Bussells, Emerge South Carolina Class of 2021, is advancing to the runoff for the City of Columbia At-Large seat, a seat currently held by Emerge alum Tameika Isaac Devine. Bussells is a public health researcher who oversees several statewide initiatives that support family and child health and well-being. Bussells is also a first-generation immigrant and would be the first Indian American to serve in local office in South Carolina if elected. 

“From sharing the story behind my name to using my platform to shine light on the growing Indian American and Asian American population in Columbia, I am proud to bring a missing, and much needed perspective to our city in this election,” said Bussells. “The historical nature of my race is not lost on me. If there’s one thing that 2020 taught us, it’s that representation matters. The American South is a growingly diverse place full of rich histories and stories that can often be overlooked. And it’s time for Columbia to change that.” 

Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, an Emerge South Carolina 2020 alum, is also in the runoff where she is running for mayor of the City of Columbia, a seat currently held by Mayor Steve Benjamin. If elected she will be the first woman mayor in the history of Columbia. She has received notable endorsements from Benjamin and Congressman James E. Clyburn. Devine currently holds the At-Large seat on city council, a seat she has held since 2002 when she made history as the first Black woman elected to that body. She is a founding partner in the law firm of Jabber & Isaac, PA and founder of The Possibilities Institute.

“We are excited about the historic nature of elections in Columbia this year,” said Jessica Bright, Emerge South Carolina Executive Director. “It is shocking yet not altogether surprising that we have yet to have a woman lead our capital city. In 2021 we are still seeing many firsts happen in politics. And Emerge South Carolina is here and ready to help women break those glass ceilings.”

The runoff for the Mayor and At-Large seats will be held Tuesday, November 16th.