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Columbia's longest serving mayor, Nexsen Pruet's Bob Coble, featured in series on history of the city

Columbia Star

September 13, 2018

Bob Coble, chair of Nexsen Pruet's South Carolina Public Policy & Governmental Affairs group, was featured in the Columbia Star's recent series, "Columbia through the eyes of its mayors."

The first article, "Coble turns debate team experience into life of politics," highlights the beginning of his political career, as well as the major impact his two decades of service had on the state's capitol. 


Coble’s passion for politics began during his time as a student at Dreher High School. He was a member of the debate team. One of his debate partners was Francenia Heizer, who would later serve on city council beginning in 1986. She would become the first woman elected as Mayor Pro Tempore in 1992.

Coble’s first opportunity to get into politics came as a member of Richland County Council. Among the issues facing the county at the time were infrastructure, law enforcement, and education. While those issues were also important to Coble, providing services to the rural areas of the county was equally as important to him.


Mayor Kirkman Finlay Jr. began Columbia on the track of revitalization by moving the railroad tracks from the current Vista location. Adams continued that vision with a remodeling of present day Finlay Park. Coble continued those efforts with further development in the Vista.

One of the main components of the Vista is the Convention Center on Lincoln Street. It was an idea that began with Finlay, but concerns over how Columbia could afford it arose. Other issues centered around location and whether the City of Columbia could partner with Richland and Lexington County Councils to make it happen. Coble felt the time was right to pursue the project, and with the help of Richland and Lexington County Councils, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center became a reality in 2004.

Mayor Bob, as he's still known to most, was also highlighted in the final article of the series, "Coble continues transformation of Columbia."


Bob Coble knows if someone calls him Mr. Coble they are one of two people. They are either one of his kids’ friends or not from this area.

John Wrisley, who worked for WVOC, gave Coble the name “Mayor Bob” while on his radio show.

“I think that conveyed accessibility and all those informal traits people like that I tried to aspire to,” Coble said. “That and going to neighborhood meetings and trying to be involved sustained me during that period of time.”


Coble originally planned to move into a role as a senior statesman, while still continuing his regular job as an attorney at Nexsen Pruett. However, life after his time as mayor has been a little busier than perhaps he anticipated. He continues to work with city council, representing many of the developments, including some at BullStreet Commons.

Coble's prolific career has not gone unnoticed. Many honors and awards have been bestowed upon him, including:

  • The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce named him its Ambassador of the Year;
  • The South Carolina Research Authority presented him with its Knowledge Economist Award;
  • The Richland County Bar Association honored him with the John W. “Tootie”  Williams Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes “distinguished and meritorious service to the legal profession or to the public in professional related activities;”
  • The dedication of Coble Plaza, outside of the Edventure Children’s Museum;
  • The Martin Luther King Social Justice Award from the University of South Carolina; and
  • Best Lawyers in America - Administrative/Regulatory Law, since 2013.

Bob "Mayor Bob" Coble is a leader within Nexsen Pruet, serving as chair of the firm’s South Carolina Public Policy & Governmental Affairs group. While providing key insight into the inner-working of South Carolina’s business and political landscape, he is also responsible for ensuring client needs are met efficiently and effectively. He coordinates and manages client teams in order to serve individuals and businesses with interests before lawmakers at the State House. He is a registered lobbyist. 

Nexsen Pruet is one of the largest law firms in the Carolinas, with more than 190 attorneys and offices in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as well as Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina. Founded in 1945, Nexsen Pruet provides a broad range of legal services to the business community and represents companies and other entities in local, state, national and international venues.