Columbia businessman and former Richland County Sheriff's deputy Larry Sypolt has dropped out of the mayoral race a little over one week before the election.

Appearing with incumbent Mayor Steve Benjamin in front of the Columbia Police Department, Sypolt endorsed the current mayor.

Sypolt says that over the past few weeks he has come to know Benjamin and discovered he and the incumbent mayor shared many of the same views. He calls his decision best for the people of Columbia.

Benjamin appointed Sypolt to a public safety task force which Benjamin intends to fully form within the next few days.

Councilman Moe Baddourah, Benjamin's only remaining opponent for next Tuesday’s election criticized the mayor for holding Monday's news conference at police headquarters where the department has gone without a permanent chief for about six months following the resignation of Randy Scott.

Baddourah says a new chief should be the city's top priority.