Stephen K. Benjamin

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Stephen K. Benjamin
36th Mayor of Columbia
Assumed office
July 1, 2010
Preceded byBob Coble
President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
May 7, 2018 – July 1, 2019
Preceded byMitch Landrieu
Succeeded byBryan K. Barnett
Director of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services of South Carolina
In office
January 13, 1999 – January 15, 2003
GovernorJim Hodges
Preceded byStephen Bernie
Succeeded byJoan Meacham
Personal details
Stephen Keith Benjamin

(1969-12-01) December 1, 1969 (age 51)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)DeAndrea Gist
EducationUniversity of South Carolina (BA, JD)

Stephen Keith Benjamin (born December 1, 1969) is an American politician and businessman serving as the 36th mayor of Columbia, South Carolina since July 2010. He is the first African American mayor in the city's history. Before serving as mayor, he worked in the Columbia metropolitan area as an attorney and served on various charitable organizations. On November 8, 2017, Benjamin won re-election for a third term as mayor with no votes because no other candidate filed. Benjamin was declared re-elected.[1] Mayor Benjamin previously served as the 76th President of the United States Conference of Mayors.[2]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Benjamin's parents are from Orangeburg, South Carolina, but relocated in the 1960s during the Great Migration to Queens, New York, where Benjamin was born. Benjamin moved to Columbia to attend college. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Carolina in 1991 and earned a juris doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1994.[3]

As a student at the University of South Carolina, Benjamin was actively involved in the student chapter of NAACP, eventually becoming president. He was elected as student body president during his undergraduate career and served as president of the student bar association during his third year of law school. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.[4]

In 1999, Benjamin was appointed by Democratic Governor Jim Hodges to lead the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services, a position which he held until 2003.[5] In 2002, Benjamin led an unsuccessful campaign to become the Attorney General of South Carolina as a Democratic candidate, defeated by the Republican Henry McMaster by a margin of 11%.[6]

In 2010, Benjamin won a special election to become the mayor of Columbia, succeeding Bob Coble. In November 2017, Benjamin was the only candidate to file for mayoral election. Benjamin, therefore, did not appear on the ballot and was automatically declared to be re-elected without any votes.[1] On February 4, 2021, Benjamin announced that he would not seek re-election in 2021.[7]

Electoral history[edit]

Mayor of Columbia, 2017
Candidate Votes %
Steve Benjamin 0
  • Benjamin was the only candidate to file; he was automatically declared re-elected with no votes.[1]
Mayor of Columbia, 2013 [8]
Candidate Votes %
Steve Benjamin 10,401 64.1
Moe Baddourah 5,594 34.4
Other 224 1.5
Mayor of Columbia, 2010 (Special Runoff)[9]
Candidate Votes %
Steve Benjamin 10,894 55.2
Kirkman Finlay III 8,845 44.8
Mayor of Columbia, 2010 (Special)[10]
Candidate Votes %
Steve Benjamin 6,067 35.5
Kirkman Finlay III 5,485 32.1
Steve Morrison 5,053 29.5
Other 472 2.9
South Carolina Attorney General Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry McMaster 601,931 55.48
Democratic Steve Benjamin 482,560 44.48
Write-ins Write-ins 498 0.05

Career before mayoralty[edit]

Benjamin was the principal of the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, in Columbia, South Carolina where his practice emphasized governmental strategic planning, administrative and regulatory work, municipal finance and general business matters.

On March 2, 1999, Benjamin was appointed to the Governor's Cabinet by Governor Jim Hodges serving as the Director of the South Carolina Probation, Pardon, and Parole Services. Benjamin has also served as the Regional Manager of Public Affairs for International Paper Company, Manager of Corporate Affairs at Carolina Power & Light Company. He additionally worked as an associate in the Administrative and Regulatory practice of the McNair Law Firm in Columbia.

Personal life[edit]

Benjamin is married to The Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, a Judge in South Carolina's Fifth Judicial Circuit. Together they have two daughters.[11]

Recognition and awards[edit]

  • The Root's 100 Influential Black Americans (2011 & 2013)[12]
  • The Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official (2017) [13]


  1. ^ a b c "Dubious new distinction for Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  2. ^ United States Conference of Mayors. "Congratulations to @SteveBenjaminSC, the 76th President of the United States Conference of Mayors!". Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  3. ^ "South Carolina Legislature Online - Search". Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  4. ^ ":: Welcome to the City of Columbia ::". Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  5. ^ "Our History – SCDPPPS". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  6. ^ "Our Campaigns – SC Attorney General Race – Nov 05, 2002". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Retrieved February 4, 2021. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Mayor Benjamin Awarded for Leadership During Thousand Year Flood". Retrieved September 5, 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mayor of Columbia