WINNSBORO — Three candidates are vying for the office of mayor for the Town of Winnsboro. The candidates will participate in a forum March 21 at the Winnsboro Woman’s Club. The public is invited to attend.
The three candidates are Mayor Roger A. Gaddy, Town Councilmen Bill Haslett and resident Michael L. Davis. The election April 2 will also include City Council District 2 and City Council District 4.
Each of the three mayoral candidates completed a survey for The Herald Independent to share more about why they want to become mayor of Winnsboro. Michael L. Davis was featured in the March 5 edition of The Herald Independent, Roger A. Gaddy was featured in the March 8 edition. Today’s profile is of Bill Haslett.
Name: Bill Haslett
Date of birth: Sept. 10, 1945
Marital status/family: Married to Linda Hooneyahn Haslett; four children; seven grandchildren
Education: Charleston Southern graduate
Current employment: Real Estate Broker/Certified Appraiser
Prior political experience: Four years on Winnsboro Town Council
1. Briefly discuss your background and qualifications for the office you are seeking.
I have spent the past four years on town council educating myself. I graduated from leadership training with the SC Municipal Association, and also graduated from SC Economic Development School through the Department of Commerce. I have gotten to know many of the mayors of cities and towns around the state, and I have acquired many good ideas from them that could be used here in Winnsboro. I own a successful real estate and appraisal company within the town limits. Having 30+ years of business experience of running my own company, and after four years on town council, I feel that I have a good understanding of city government.
2. Why are you running for mayor?
I have a passion, a vision, and a plan for Winnsboro. There are too many vacant stores on Congress Street, and the quality of life has declined over the last 20+ years. The result of this is the median (mid range) sales price of residential real estate within two miles of Congress Street from 7/1/2008 to 7/1/2012 was only $49,850, according to the Columbia Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
During that time, home prices ranged from $10,000 to $168,000, with an average of 22 sales per year. From 7/1/2006 to 7/1/2007, the median (mid range) sales price was $97,500 and there were 35 sales that year, with the price range being between $13,500 and $295,000. That’s a 49 percent decline in median sales prices over the last five years and a decline of 37 percent in the number of sales. We must clean up our town and improve the quality of life in order to improve property values. I am running for mayor because Winnsboro is my hometown, and I want visitors and Winnsboro residents alike to be proud of how our town looks.
3. What would you do to foster economic development in the town?
We need to clean up the town and enforce our codes to make it an attractive place to call home, and promote our history as well. I would like for Winnsboro to develop ties with Newberry and Camden, and continue to promote the Old English district of our state. In addition to enhancing our town’s web site, another idea would be to work with the SC Railroad Museum to bring more of their 12,000+ visitors into our downtown. Winnsboro should hire an economic development manager with training in this area to promote Congress Street.
4. How would you improve the situation in the town?
I would like to see Fairfield County’s own world famous artist (Dru Blair) move his school, soon-to-be college, to Winnsboro and develop the arts and crafts on Congress St. I have his endorsement for Mayor, and an endorsement and support of Bill McMaster, the largest owner of buildings on Congress Street. Bill has offered the Blair College of Art the use of many of his buildings. Repaving the parking lot behind Hoots and all the stores on the southeast side of Congress would allow more parking. The most important thing we can do is a clean up our town to show pride of ownership. When a visitor comes to town, they judge our town on how it looks now. Would you want to move to Winnsboro the way it looks now?
5. In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing the town?
We must work with the other water companies and the county to develop a combined water authority to resolve our water shortage. Also, we must improve the quality of life in Winnsboro. Our Armory is in bad condition, our parks need work, and Congress Street looks like no one cares about our town. A community center will be built within 18 months of my taking office, provided that I have the support of Town Council. My goal is to get our kids off the streets and into a safer environment.
6. What do you feel is the most important aspect of this position?
The most important aspect of this position is to be readily available to answer any concerns from our citizens. I feel that providing the best services (police, fire, water, sewer, sanitation, electric and gas) for our citizens are most important. Promoting economic development within the town, especially on Congress St., is an important aspect of this position as well. I will be a good will ambassador for the Town of Winnsboro.
7. What will your number one priority be if you are elected?
My priorities are to resolve the water issues, improve the quality of life here by cleaning up our town and build a community center. I plan to set up a vision committee to provide ideas for future growth.
8. What is your favorite book and why?
I have no one favorite book, however, I do enjoy reading about successful people and how they were able overcome challenges and succeed in life.
9. If you are not a native of Fairfield County and/or Winnsboro, where are you from originally and when did you move here?
I was born and raised in Winnsboro, my family has had a business in downtown Winnsboro since the late 1800’s. I moved back to home in 1997 to continue my successful real estate and appraisal business. I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Winnsboro as a town councilman for the past four years. I know Winnsboro and Fairfield County values, and I would be honored to serve as your mayor. It’s time for Winnsboro to thrive again, and we can do it together. I ask for your support.