3 Republicans vying for County Council Seat District 2
Three Republicans are vying for the Lexington County Council Seat in District 2. They are incumbent Larry Brigham and newcomers Jeff Sarokas and Frank Townsend. There are no Democratic candidates for this position.
All three were asked to fill out a questionnaire containing the nine questions listed below. Their responses follow.
The Batesburg-Leesville Industrial Park has made many strides to draw commercial businesses to this area. How will you promote the park? What will you do to entice industrial businesses to this area?
- Lexington County Council (LCC) is looking into adding a new fee, or rain tax, on homeowners and businesses to pay for drainage improvements designed to lessen flooding created by major storms. Would you or would you not support a rain tax and why?
- A new set of standards proposed by LCC may have the new Vulcan Materials quarry near Batesburg-Leesville cut its operating hours slightly. The standards have included some other limits as well. If elected, would you or would you not support the new standards and why?
- As the elected official for this district, what are your top three goals you intend to strive towards during your term? Please describe the one you feel is most important and why?
- What do you plan to do about the county-owned paved and dirt roads?
- How do you feel about the Dominion/SCANA deal and why?
- What do you feel is the cause of dissension in the Republican ranks?
- Why are you running for office?
- Briefly, provide some pertinent information about yourself.
Larry Brigham (incumbent)
- The BLIP is open for occupancy. Thanks to the Town of B-L water & sewer has been installed into the Park. Lexington County has constructed a roadway entrance into the Park from US1. Lighting has recently been installed. Landscaping & signage is next on the Lexington County agenda. All of the Park improvements have been done since 2015 during my tenure as the representative of Lexington County Council District 2. Park occupancy is being promoted by Mike Eades, Lexington County Economic Development Director and by the Central SC Alliance as well as the SC Department of Commerce. There has been interest from manufacturing/industry but the ongoing recruitment of occupants is a work in progress. The next phase of attracting occupants is the construction of a spec building on a site in the Park.
- I am not a supporter of a stormwater fee (rain tax) for the entire County. The northern end of the County has some serious issues with stormwater. Possibly a stormwater fee for the areas that have those problems, but not in District 2.
- The current amendments in the Lexington County Ordinance for mining operations were introduced and sponsored by me. They include set back distance from the pit area of 1,500 feet from the property line of a residential structure. The additional setbacks associated with blasting are required and cannot be varied or reduced. Amended hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. M-F, Sat by order only. Of course, I support the amendments to the Ordinance.
- Welcoming economic growth into District 2 is a top priority. With growth comes housing developments, industry/manufacturing to provide jobs, families with children in the school systems, consumers trading with the local retail stores. Secondly, open door communication between the three municipalities (B-L, Gilbert, and Summit) is of utmost importance. Thirdly, making sound prudent decisions for District 2.
- Most of the County-owned roads are dirt roads. There are 280 miles of dirt roads in District 2. The cost of paving one mile of dirt road is $400,000 to $600,000 if done by Lexington County “in-house” paving. If contracted with a paving company the cost is $750,000 to $1,000,000 per mile. Although paving dirt roads is a priority, due to the cost involved only 6-8 miles are paved annually in the entire County. Without an alternative funding mechanism for paving projects the process will be slow. Until they all can be paved, Lexington County Public Works does an outstanding job providing motor grader service to the many dirt roads in District 2.
- Since I am not involved in that decision I will defer that question to the House & Senate.
- Although I am a Republican I can’t speak to dissension in the higher levels of government. My focus is on the local level serving those in my District.
- I am running for office to finish what I have started and to continue to serve the citizens here in the most sound prudent way possible.
- My wife and I were raised in Batesburg-Leesville, as were my children. I am an alumnus of BLHS along with my wife and our children. My family has been involved in our community for years and I plan to continue to be an intricate part of our community. My business has been in my family in B-L since 1966. My heart is here in this community. When your heart is in it your passion for your community goes with it. I’ve been honored to serve on Lexington County Council since 2015 and currently serve as Vice Chairman. I am excited to be a candidate seeking re-election to County Council.
- Before answering your question, let me first touch upon our County government and leadership. We have a very simple organizational structure; our nine members of County Council have only two direct reports, Clerk to County Council, Ms. Diana Burnett, and County Administrator Mr. Joe Mergo. Ms. Burnett’s organizational role is not pertinent to my answer but Mr. Mergo’s role is. Mr. Mergo has direct and indirect reports that are responsible for the execution of procedures and compliance of policy that result in maintaining and increasing the quality of life for our citizens. What will I do to entice industrial business to this area; I will request a meeting with Mr. Mergo and ask him to hold his Director of Economic Development, Mr. Mike Eades accountable (Please understand, holding one accountable is not threatening their career but it is asking tough questions and expecting honest and complete answers and developing a plan of action) for finding occupants for the Batesburg-Leesville Industrial Park (BLIP). Additionally, I will ask Mr. Mergo what business or businesses benefit from a close proximity to the Vulcan Materials quarry in Richland County? Have those businesses been asked to relocate to B&L? What is the largest impediment to finding occupants of the BLIP and can it be eliminated or bypassed? We cannot continue to maintain a mostly vacant industrial park without being forced to make difficult decisions.
- Let me begin by addressing a “New fee” or “Tax”. Increasing or implementing new taxes should always be the option of last resort. With that communicated, our County Council must be willing to make difficult decisions for the good of our County. Do we need to prevent flooding, absolutely! This question, by using the words “Looking into” indicates LCC is in the exploratory phase and offering any definitive opinion would be horrifically premature.
- I support strict enforcement of pre-purchase standards and any mutually agreed upon post-purchase standards that improve the quality of life for the quarry’s neighbors and do not impede the quarry’s operation or place unfair financial burdens. Past and present District 2 County Councilmen have made comments regarding the quarry and we cannot allow “Saber rattling” to mask inaction and pacify/distract citizens.
- Once elected my most important goal is controlled and directed growth with appropriate infrastructure. My other two goals are 85% occupancy of the BLIP and increased funding (For expected results) of Public Safety.
- Paved and dirt roads need to be properly maintained and be capable of easily accommodating our citizens, visitors, Public Safety vehicles, etc. There are those that will promise to pave all dirt roads, but that promise is at best unrealistic. One simple example, there are landowners that do not want their roads paved because paving would increase their exposure to unwanted traffic.
- I don’t like it and it comes at the cost of South Carolina residents losing jobs.
- The GOP does nothing to encourage party members to support the best candidate before the Primary Election. Without early support, we are forced to face the results of poor voter turnout, favoritism, and obstructionism. Now mix in egos, arrogance, and ignorance and we have the perfect recipe for dysfunction. The solution is simple, ask everyone to support the most qualified candidate, at that moment in time, prior to the Primary Election.
- The idea of seeking the Lexington County Council District 2 seat began with many respectable members of our community asking me to run. After communicating with my wife, family, and friends I decided to run because my teambuilding abilities, leadership skills, and business acumen are needed in District 2.
- Community involvement is nothing new for Jeff Sarokas or my family and friends. A true leader will be followed by others and for decades I have successfully displayed my leadership abilities and have developed a professional following. I am now focusing my leadership abilities to better the lives of the citizens of Lexington County Council, District 2. If you wish to communicate with me I may be easily reached at (803) 429-1696 or JeffSarokas@gmail.com. Results Matter!
Frank J. Townsend
- Batesburg/Leesville Industrial Park – When previously in office, we worked hard to acquire land for the entrance to the park and worked to help get water and sewer to the park. We would continue to work hard to promote the Industrial Park by physically visiting prospects, and working to have Highway #1 widened as to provide great commercial access to the park.
- Rain Tax.- No, I will not support the Rain Tax at this time for District 2. I believe the issue is in the Irmo area. I don’t see how it could benefit District 2. We have our own issues with water on our dirt roads.
- New Standards – Yes, I would support the New Standards. I think the people affected by the quarry should have every possible benefit that would help them preserve their tranquil community.
- a) I am maintaining a conservative view on any new taxes. b) I am promoting the Batesburg/Leesville Industrial Park and bringing new business to our area. c) Repairing our roads – (i.e.) Dixie Red Road. Even if we cannot pave it, there are things we can do to help the situation; such as putting in drainage pipes to help control the flow of water. MOST IMPORTANTLY, I think we need to take care of our roads for the safety of our citizens. But, I believe, we can work all these out in unison.
- Please refer to the last part of Question #4.
- I’m not very fond of the Dominion offer. I believe it could end up costing us more in the long run. I helped build the first reactor in the late 1970’s with Harrison Electric. I personally would like to see this worked out with SCANA for the good of our citizens.
- I believe we have some RINO’s in our ranks that are not true conservatives, and they are putting themselves and their careers ahead of what’s best for the people. I WANT TO BE A VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE!
- I’m running for office because I want to see our county prosper, but also remain conservative in our government. Also, the taxes are increasing every year. Where will it stop? I have family in the North. I watched the local government raise their taxes year after year. By the time they were ready to retire, they had to sell and move to another state. I don’t want to see that happen here.
- I am 65 years old. I pastor a small church with no salary. I have retired from my business and work part-time managing the new owner’s shop. I believe I can spend more time working for the people of District 2; not just after hours from a regular job.
These are the candidates for the June 12 Lexington County Council District 2 Republican Primary. The candidate who wins the primary will win the District 2 seat outright and will face no opposition in the November General Election unless a write-in candidate appears. Ponder what they have presented and choose the candidate best suited to fill the seat he is seeking.