When I was first elected to Fairfield County Council in 1982, council members were elected in a countywide race. Therefore, as I campaigned, I traveled across the entire county and got to know the people. I learned the many regional differences, and I made lifelong friendships while obtaining a better understanding of all the areas of our county. At that time, our goal as a Council was to improve Fairfield County’s social and economic conditions, and collectively, with public support and working together on Council, we did just that. We represented the entire county, and I have never changed that philosophy. My work always focused on the good of all of Fairfield County, not just District 7.
Council had a field day in the 1980’s as we turned Fairfield County from a one mill town into an industrial leader with Mack Trucks, Standard Products and RiteAid Distribution. Families like the Ellisons and Desportes provided land for these plants. Mayor Quay McMaster and Town Manager LC Green provided utility support, and Council worked hard to provide better opportunities for the citizens of this county.
In the 1990’s, our Council worked together, and with the help of Democratic and Republican governors, our bipartisan US Senate delegation, and Congressman John Spratt, all working together across party lines, we developed the first international industrial park in the state and put it on Cook Road in Ridgeway. It was a pleasure to work with the likes of Lang Mekra’s Sabine Lang, Isola’s Dr. Tillessen and Governors Beasley and Hodges to make this vision a reality. On the local level, it was a greater pleasure to sit at a round table with colleagues, current and past, as we worked diligently to create that vision.
That word I just used, vision, is what was valued. Another word, together, was how we worked. Sadly politics in Fairfield County, as well as across the country, have lowered itself to name-calling, lies, and negativity. Working together and being cooperative is a value that I have always cherished as an elected official, but it hardly exists anymore.
Our County Council does not agree. Our municipalities and legislative delegation critique Council’s every move and vice versa. Yes, at times it may be deserved, but it needs to end. The war of personalities that we continue to see from all angles of our elected leadership in Fairfield County is not helping to move our County forward. While the in-fighting continues, the only people being hurt are the future generations of Fairfield County. The welfare of this county is bigger than personality and popularity contests, and our elected leadership should come to that realization. As President Truman once said, “It is amazing that one can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
I am as frustrated as most of you at the constant bickering that is going on in our County. To be effective, one does not have to be divisive or loud. Due to recent health problems, I can’t be loud, however, my friends and family will tell you that I never have been one to raise my voice anyway. I am one who would rather sit down, talk, and peacefully work things out.
So after 32 years, I’ve decided to be a full-time grandfather to my precious granddaughter and grandson. For over three decades, I have sacrificed much time with my family in order to work on behalf of the citizens of this County. Because of that, I have gotten to know many of you and value all of the relationships I have made over the years. Make no mistake about it, I will miss the opportunities to help individuals; I will miss being able to work with contacts across South Carolina to the benefit of Fairfield County. But all good things must come to an end, and this is where this “good thing” for me comes to a close.
I thank you, the people of Fairfield County, for allowing me to serve; it has been an honor. Although I am leaving Council, I hope I can still help in any way. If you need me, I’ll be enjoying time on our hill teaching my grandchildren how to love this county and all of its people as much as I do.
Representative of District 7 and all of Fairfield County