How do you replace a 27-year Columbia city councilman in 27 days?
That's the question facing the candidates vying to replace veteran Councilman E.W. Cromartie, whose resignation Tuesday prompted City Council to schedule an impromptu election for April 6.
The answer could be to piggyback on Cromartie's legendary political network - an informal citizens advisory committee that has swelled from 20 people in 1983 to more than 200 today.
"If I was running in that district, and the infrastructure is already in place, you'd be crazy not to go after that committee," said Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, who as an at-large councilwoman has reached out to the committee herself.
But reaching the committee isn't easy. Even calling it a "committee" would be generous, said Elizabeth Marks, who has been a member for 22 years but can't tell you how she joined it.