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Batesburg-Leesville faces epic election November 7th

Batesburg-Leesville residents are facing an epic Mayor/Council election on Tuesday, November 7. For only the second time since consolidation in 1993 has so many council seats come up for election. District 2, District 6, and District 8 are open because Todd O’Dell, Chip Spradley, and Jim Wiszowaty have all resigned. That leaves District 1, District 3, District 5, and District 7 up for re-election. District 1 and District 7 councilpersons Rachel Taylor and Meggie Ricard, respectively, decided not to seek re-election. That leaves incumbents in District 3 Steve Cain and District 5 Bob Penick facing new-comers for their seats.
Linda DeLoach was the only candidate running in District 1. She was awarded the seat by the vote of the existing council. Candidates hoping to fill the vacant seat in District 2 are Olin Gambrell, Tripp Williamson, and Rev. Tom Mims. District 3 candidates are incumbent Steve Cain and newcomer Gale Gibson. The District 4 seat held by Charles Simpkins is not up for re-election. He is, however, running for mayor, along with Lancer Shull. Should he win the mayoral seat, a special election will be held to complete his term.
District 5 candidates are incumbent Bob Penick and newcomer Shirley Mitchell. Stephen McKenzie was in the running for District 5, but has withdrawn from the race stating he is moving out of this area. Vying for the District 6 seat are Rev. Tillman Gives and Jim Mitchell. Newcomers Nick Hallman and Jason Prouse are vying to fill the seat in District 7 and in District 8 the only candidate running is Magen Hallman.

All Candidates were asked the following questions. Their answers follow below.

1. Out of the following list of topics/concerns facing Batesburg-Leesville, choose what you feel are the three most important ones and why. If elected, how would you deal with each one? Protection of historical homes/buildings, Water Plant, Unregistered vehicles/dilapidated buildings, Grounds maintenance – parks, grass cutting and edging of curbing and sidewalks/ litter control, Hospitality Tax, Sewer lines and system, Crime/ Police Dept., Fire Dept./ Volunteer status, Town Administration, Traffic/ Road and Intersection Improvements, Taxes, Industrial Park, SC Poultry Festival, Community Events such as Movie Night in the Park, National Night Out, etc., and School System

2. Do you think the “H” or Hospitality Tax would be beneficial to the town? Explain your answer.

3. What do you see the council doing to spur economic development in B-L to bring more jobs to this area?

4. If elected, how would you help plan for historic preservation in B-L and do you think it is necessary? Explain your answer.

5. How do you feel about the fact that the mayor and council will not be paid for their services and why do you feel that way?

6. Do you think that the Five Year Strategic Plan will benefit the town?

7. What would you, as a council person, do to see that the strategic plan succeeds in its mission?

8. What qualifications do you have that makes you feel you would make a good councilperson?

9. Please provide some information about yourself: Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in B-L? Married? Children? Age? Affiliations and offices held? Where do you work and what is your job title? Education? High school graduate? College graduate? College attended? Year graduated college?

Question for candidates seeking re-election:

10. As a sitting councilperson, what have you personally done to help your district or what have you accomplished that benefits your constituents?

Question for those seeking the mayoral seat:

11. If elected where do you see Batesburg-Leesville four years from now under your guidance? Explain.

 

Mayor Candidates

Lancer Shull

1. All of these are important to the success of our town. In picking 3 as the most important, I would focus on the following because I feel as if they are the cornerstone of the others. 1) Town Administration. It all starts with us and how we effectively implement the strategy of creating a business and family-friendly community. Building trust through transparency of our government and including the voice of the community in our decisions. 2) Grounds maintenance. All of us have the responsibility of contributing to a cleaner and more attractive community. 3) Water Plant. Water is the key resource in growth.

2. The Hospitality Tax has the potential to absolutely be beneficial to our town. Look, no one likes taxes. I don’t like taxes. But why is that? It’s because we feel that most of our tax dollars are wasted. The H tax gives US an opportunity to benefit by creating a pool of money that is leveraged by everyone who purchased prepared foods in our Town. My support of a Hospitality Tax will come, if and only IF, a committee comprised of community and businesses owners and/or leaders are involved in providing a projected list for council to then enhance, prioritize, and approve. This is the best type of tax in my opinion as the money stays in B-L rather than going to the state or county. Only those who are dining out would pay the tax which makes it optional. If you’re eating out in Lexington or Columbia, you’re already paying it. This will support our local restaurants by creating projects that will attract people to our town, and retain those who already live here. The uses for this law are very specific. This is one we can control and use wisely.

3. Council members should take a good hard look at their individual districts to identify where their assets are currently, where the potential sits un-tapped, and where systematic infrastructure upgrades are needed. Let’s communicate openly with our Chamber of Commerce, the leadership of Saluda and Lexington County, and our citizens. As a body, council must work together in securing the bottom line resource for any community, water. Let’s create a place we’re all proud of and call home… ALL of us should have a focus on beatification. Let’s clean it up!

4. Historic preservation is absolutely necessary in order to maintain lifestyle and character. The charm and character of the town life in B-L is due in part to our history. The Council should identify historic properties within each of their districts. Together we will decide, on a case by case basis, whether to seek preservation of a property or remove it because it poses a public hazard. Let’s seek State and Federal funding to help us preserve. Then let’s highlight these preserved locations as possible destinations for those visiting B-L. We can also champion and support our civic groups as they spearhead those homes or facilities that should be preserved.

5. For me it’s simple. I’ve been a Rotarian for 8 years. Service over Self. Being a public servant is not about the money. It is a service that we, as individuals, cannot place a price on. I would propose that the Town implement a budget for and support opportunities for council members to further educate themselves which provides an essential part of growth and results as a public servant. Fund the education so we can grow our leaders.

6. The strategic plan will benefit the town in several ways. Most importantly, I feel that the plan that puts the entire community on the same page including civic, schools, businesses, and residences. It provides us with a guideline to work together in our own unique ways to implement a unified vision for our community.

7. I would like to provide my sincere gratitude to the current Town Manager, Council, EDC, and Mayor for providing a solid foundation. A strategic plan is beneficial only as a living and breathing vision reviewed quarterly and adjusted, as needed, depending on the current happenings within the community. To the best of my ability, I will ensure the plan is maintained and carried out in the most effective manner.

8. I also grew up in a small town in Missouri much smaller than Batesburg-Leesville. Being raised on a farm, and as the son of a brick mason, I learned the true value of small-town life, being a good neighbor and working hard. I worked my own way through College and served as a Senator to the Student Government and President of the Data Processing Management Association. I was awarded Business Executive of the Year by the College Business of Economics my Senior year. In Kansas City, I worked in a “Big Six” firm right out of college, where I learned the ropes of business and life in the corporate world. Upon moving to Los Angeles, California, I founded my own consulting firm and built software to accommodate the Department of Health of Los Angeles County which supported 35 nonprofit agencies in their assistance of underprivileged children in Los Angeles. Additionally, I worked for more than a decade, much of which was pro-bono, to assist the community healthy councils targeted at the African-American community in South Central Los Angeles. My experience as an actor in community theater, television and movies, has given me a unique skill and opportunity to study people focusing on their individual qualities and strengths which has provided me with a rare talent for effective and productive communication. Given my background, it has enabled me to have a discussion with a CEO of a Fortune 500 Company to a homeless individual or family living in LA’s Skid Row. I truly care about every man, woman and child who lives, works, plays, and prays in our community… and beyond. I know that a rising tide lifts all boats. I will give my all in creating rising tides for our vessels.

9. I grew up in Kingsville, Missouri and have lived in B-L since July, 2009. I am 47, married and have two children and two stepchildren ages 11, 12, 13, and 14. Affiliations and offices held: Student Body President (Kingsville High School); Senator Student Government University of Central Missouri ; B-L Rotary President; B-L Rotary Literacy Chair; B-L Chamber of Commerce Member; B-L Chamber of Commerce Chairman; Lexington County Accommodations Tax Committee; Lexington School District 3 Board of Trustees Member; Lexington School District 3 Board of Trustees Secretary ; B-L Chamber Economic Development Committee, and the B-L Chamber Communication Action Team. I am the owner of Shull Studios and Computer Therapy LLC. I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; Functional Major: Computer Information Systems. I am a high school graduate and a 1992 graduate of the University of Central Missouri.

11. I see Batesburg-Leesville as an all-encompassing community with tremendous potential. My vision is to provide well-managed growth with the focus being on community, lifestyle, and vibrant businesses. My mission is for Batesburg-Leesville to be a business, civic, educational, cultural, and lifestyle model for the State of South Carolina.

Charles Simpkins

1. The most pressing issue right now is the new source of water for the town. We’re under consent order from DHEC right now which means they have stated to us that we must get a new water source because the one we have now is no longer adequate to serve the citizens of Batesburg-Leesville. Having said that we have made several attempts under Wiszowaty’s administration and Rita Crapps’ administration and haven’t made any progress. As a matter of fact, we find ourselves back to square one after spending $3 million on the project and we are at the point where we are needing to start over from square one again. I think that’s because of bad judgment and bad decision making by council. The council was taking the advice of the mayor in addition to the town manager and the town engineer of negotiating the deal with Saluda County.
The sewer lines/water system is another tremendously important issue because our current lines are extremely old and are deteriorating. We need to address this issue before it becomes a major problem. Financing the construction of these utilities will be a major challenge for the new council.

2. As for the Hospitality Tax, most municipalities already have that tax in place. We need a user tax to share the load of growth and development of Batesburg-Leesville. This will enable us to beautify and maintain our community.

3. The best way to encourage economic development is to make our community a better place to live, work, and play. We feel our community is a great place to live and we are content to build upon that. I believe that it is just a matter of time before businesses will see our community as a place where they would like to set up shop. We will work closely with county, state, and surrounding communities to promote our community.

4. I am in favor of historical preservation. I am very proud of our community’s historic areas. After losing Fox Manor through demolition we will work to preserve our historic sites in the future as a symbol of our history.

5. I feel if Council is willing to serve their community and give their best effort, that the cost to serve should be covered. Anyone desiring to serve should be able to serve without having to finance their own expenses such as computers, cell phones, training, travel, and other expenses of council. Serving on council is a 24/7 job. Council members, particularly the newer ones, will need to have extensive training to make their best decisions.

6. I most definitely support the Strategic Plan. How can we know where we are going if we don’t have one. There is an old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Goals, objectives, and plans are all crucial in knowing where to go and how to get there. I am a proponent of long and short-term planning.

7. In order for the Strategic Plan to succeed Council needs to work closely together. Each new Council member will add new ideas and goals to the plan. But the overall goals and objectives will remain in place. We will hold annual workshops to review our goals and strategies.

8. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from SC State University. With my years of experience on Council and in this community, I work well with others and I will use those skills to unite this Council and community. As we grow together as a community we will become stronger and more appealing.

9. Having been born and raised in this community, I graduated from the Lexington Three School System and having graduated from the Lexington Three School System, I am a product of all the good things that our community has to offer. As a husband to my lovely wife, Darlene Simpkins and as a father of four children and grandfather of four I will symbolize all of the good things our community has to offer. I have been Mayor Pro Tem of the Town and have served on the B-L Economic Development Committee for the past four years. I served as pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Aiken for 13 years and am the current Associate Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in B-L. I am the former president of the B-L Ministerial Alliance and am a member of the SC State University Athletic Hall of Fame.

11. If elected mayor, I will work toward a brand new water source for B-L during my first term. I will see that repairs begin on the infrastructure of the water and sewer lines to provide the opportunity for citizens to have a more secure environment. I will work to make sure the town continues to grow by working to bring in more businesses into our Industrial Park.
B-L is one of the prime locations in the state to come live, work, and raise a family or retire. As we unite together as a community, our town will blossom like a flower and become a wonderful place to work and live. My goal is to help make our community a place where we help one another, love each other, and work together in total harmony.

District 2 Candidates

Olin Gambrell

1. Water Plant -The town has taken steps to provide a new source of water. We are at or about our limit. By finishing what we started in 1991, we will provide enough for our community and beyond. Sewer lines and system – Our lines and the entire system is very old. We need an up to date proposal on where we need to focus and plan for the needs of our community. And we need to determine how we pay for it. – Traffic/ Road and Intersection Improvements – We are growing. We need up to date information from SCDOT to determine the best way to handle traffic on Hwy. 1 and Hwy. 23. With the new growth that we are experiencing, we do not want to end up like Lexington.

2. Yes, it is beneficial. With the growth that is here and coming, we can use the new income source to help with advertising, road construction, signage and other useful projects.

3. I think the Batesburg-Leesville Chamber of Commerce is doing a good job. We have the Town Manager and staff already in place to study this; however, I would like to have a committee made of 5 to 6 citizens to help us set the future of our town.

4. We have lost several sites in town. We can form a committee to research and apply for grants that would help preserve our current historic locations. The current locations need to prioritize in order of preservation.

5. I have worked under systems that have paid and not paid. As long as the mayor and council expenses are paid, I do not see a need for a salary.

6. Yes, I believe we should follow the Five Year Strategic plan because it helps us to plan for the future.

7. I would push for the “H” tax to help us pay for the programs suggested in the strategic plan.

8. I have over 40 years of service in municipal government programs.

9. I grew up in Honea Path, SC. My family and I have lived in Batesburg-Leesville for 27 years. I have been married to Deiadra Gambrell for 47 years. I have 3 children, Greg and Heather (Gambrell) Smith, Erica Gambrell, and Eric and Paula Gambrell. I am 71 years old. I believe in involving myself in my job and community. Therefore I have belonged to several organizations as members and officers. I will only name a few; SC Municipal Association/ SC Utility Billing and Assoc. – President 1991-1992, SC Business License Association – President 1993-1994, SC Finance Officer and Clerk Association – President 1999-2000, SC Local Government Assurance Group – President 1999-2005, Veterans of Foreign Wars – Member, American Legion – Member, Batesburg-Leesville Masonic Lodge – 40 year Lifetime Member, First Baptist of Batesburg – Deacon, First Baptist of Batesburg – Treasure 1996-2015, Lexington County Leadership – 1995, Hejaz Shriners – 40 years. I am currently retired with the job title of “Grandpa”. Graduated from Honea Path High School 1964. Graduated from Forest Junior College 1967, Anderson University 1971, and USC with a B.S. in 1972

Rev. Tom Mims

1. Water Plant – There have been definite issues with the water plant, but it’s time for our town council to come together with our mayor and pursue a plan to obtain water from Lake Murray and to make major improvements or build a new water plant for our growing town. Lexington County is growing this way and we need to be ready for that growth.
• Sewer Lines and Systems – When our town comes together on the water plant, then we will need to work on the infrastructure for the water and sewer lines that are deteriorating right now underneath our roads, while at the same time improving our roadways and traffic flow.
• Maintenance of buildings, grounds, roadways – We need to work on the appearance of our town and how it looks to people and businesses who may come into our community. We need to take care of and improve buildings, grounds, roadways, sidewalks and the area along the railroad tracks. Dilapidated buildings are an eyesore and a definite turn-off to potential businesses. We need to take pride in our town by taking care of and improving what we already have and then we’ll be blessed with more business to help pay for the many other things we want to do.

2. Yes, I believe even though the Hospitality Tax has been another sore spot with individuals and business owners alike in our town, it would be beneficial to the town because it can promote the development and growth our town so desperately needs, without taxing our individual property any more than it already is. Many other towns in South Carolina are already enjoying the benefits of the Hospitality Tax.

3. I see the town council working together with the mayor to bring more restaurants, entertainment options, housing, etc. to the town, thus bringing more jobs and people to the area.

4. I would work with town council and the mayor in preserving, as much as possible, our historic houses and businesses. The preservation of these buildings would keep the small town charm in our community.

5. I believe that I have been called to run for town council and that giving my time to my district for the better of my community is the least I can do.

6. Yes, I believe the Five Year Strategic Plan will benefit our town.

7. I would work with my district, my fellow town council members, the mayor, and the town administrator, to see that everyone is working together for the Five Year Strategic Plan to succeed.

8. I have served in the pastoral ministry for 40 years and would like the opportunity to bring my skills to the table for the good of Batesburg-Leesville. I want to see our Town become stronger and better. I want to represent my district well, and I promise I will look after the interests of my fellow citizens in District 2 and consider their thoughts and concerns on every issue.

9. I grew up in Hephzibah, Georgia and have lived in B-L for almost 30 years. All three of my children, graduated from B-L High School.
I am 63 and have been happily married to Esther Mims for 40 years. We have three children; Melissa Mims Lundeen, Michael Mims, Meredith Mims Bennett. I have worked with the SC Department of Social Services in foster care & investigative services, owned my own business, and have 40 years pastoral experience & have been Pastor of Praise Church of Leesville for the last 17 years.
I founded and established The Lilly House, a home for men with alcohol & drug addiction, a full Christian-based recovery program, but, most of all, challenges men to find their destiny and purpose in life. I re-established the Ministerial Alliance of pastors & churches in Batesburg-Leesville. I currently am Pastor of Praise Church, Leesville. A high school graduate, I received an Associate Degree from North Greenville (SC), Bachelor’s Degree from Carson-Newman (TN) & Master’s Degree from Golden Gate Theological Seminary (CA)
I graduated with an A.A. in 1977; a B.A. in 1979 and an M.Div. in 1982.

Tripp Williamson

1.- Sewer lines and system- I believe our sewer and water infrastructure is vital to sustainability and critical for our town’s future growth. If elected, I would work closely with the Public Works Dept. to implement necessary repairs and improvements. Special consideration should be made to provide Public Works with the necessary resources they need to make the required repairs.
-Traffic/ Road and Intersection Improvements- As our community has continued to grow, so has the headache associated with traffic. If elected, I would recommend that a traffic study be conducted to highlight the problem areas throughout our community. With those results, council would work with SCDOT to explore and implement solutions.
-Industrial Park- Although our community has continued to grow in recent years, I believe it should be our goal to bring more worthwhile and well-paying jobs to our town. By emphasizing recruitment to the industrial park Batesburg-Leesville could position itself to bring many jobs to our community.

2. The programs that would be funded with hospitality tax revenue would be beneficial to our community. However, I believe that our citizens should play a key role in how the funds are allocated and provide oversight along with town council to ensure funds are spent responsibly.

3. I feel that in order to spur economic development in our community, we must first make Batesburg-Leesville a more enticing place to live. That means supporting our schools so that families are drawn here, embracing new housing opportunities, revitalizing the business districts, and keeping our community clean and safe.

4. One of the many great things about our community is our small town charm. As a resident of Batesburg-Leesville for nearly 29 years, I have seen many of our historical landmarks destroyed or neglected. We must first target areas with the greatest economic impact. This primarily includes revitalization of business districts.

5. I applaud elected officials who deny compensation for their services while in office. The decision to run for public office should never be driven by a desire for power or compensation, but rather a desire to better our community. I support the decision to eliminate compensation for the mayor and council and believe that those funds should be allocated to projects and programs that will better our community.

6. The strategic plan created by Town Council outlines the issues faced by our community. I believe that with the support of our citizens, business owners, and elected officials many of these problems can be addressed.

7. I believe the mission of the strategic plan should focus not only on our vision for the future but also on the current needs of our community. If elected, I would recommend that the new town council review and prioritize the short, mid, and long-term aspects within the strategic plan to better assess our town’s current needs.

8. As a lifelong resident of Batesburg-Leesville, I believe I have a deep-rooted insight into the needs of the community. I am a small business owner who strives to support local growth and improvement. I attended school in Batesburg-Leesville and believe that supporting our teachers is imperative to our town’s continued success and growth. My wife and I have chosen this community to start our family because of Batesburg-Leesville’s ability to maintain a small town feel. I believe I would make a good councilman because I WANT to solve the problems our town faces and can provide a unique, detail-oriented perspective.

9. I am a native of Batesburg-Leesville as well as a life-long resident of 29 years. I am married to Becky Williamson, Montessori KI- 5K Teacher at BLPS. I am a small business owner of Williamson Web Solutions in Batesburg-Leesville and Director of Technology Advancement for P&S Construction Co. – Pascon in Lexington, SC. I am a graduate of B-L High School as well as Midlands Technical College, 2009.

District 3 Candidates

Steve Cain

1. The top three challenges that face Batesburg-Leesville are town beautification, jobs & workforce housing, and infrastructure improvements.
Making Batesburg-Leesville a desirable place to live begins with improving the aesthetics of our community particularly the major entry points to the town. I support new welcoming signage for these entry points. I support investing in our two business districts in town to make them more pedestrian friendly. We need to recommit to maintaining clean neighborhoods with litter campaigns and informal community covenants.
I believe in full employment for our citizenry. We must invest resources in public/private ventures with a goal of creating 2,000 jobs that pay workers a living wage. The Town should hire professionals to work with staff on a comprehensive plan to recruit local and global partners to create new jobs in our community. Growth can only be measured by the number of new families who choose to locate here in Batesburg-Leesville. This means that we must not only create new high-paying jobs, but we also should partner with builders to invest in new housing subdivisions and viable rental units.
Everyone in Batesburg-Leesville is aware of my passion as it relates to our water and sewer issues. I am committed to pursuing ground and surface water sources that will be more than sufficient to serve our community through the next millennium. We must redirect our attention and resources towards securing a new water source and it’s vital that we upgrade and repair our sewer plant. Owning our water and sewer plants keep us strong and independent.

2. At this time, I do not support any new taxes. I believe that we need to reduce spending and reevaluate priorities by using a zero-based budget which would identify each department’s needs year-by-year. To be successful and accountable with H-Tax funds, we must establish and solicit input from a citizen advisory board for expenditures deemed to be in the public interest.

3. The Council should engage a consulting firm to assist staff to develop private/public ventures with a goal of creating 2,000 new high wage jobs. Midland Technical College is one of our very best community resources, we should partner with MTC leaders to leverage their resources and expertise to recruit high-tech industries to town.

4. We must be more proactive in preserving our historic properties; Council must be more creative with ordinances for planning and development. Our first instinct must not be demolition, but ingenuity.

5. If citizens desire a professional council, then we should pay our elected leaders. That said, council should meet bi-weekly and should exercise departmental oversight within the legal parameters of state laws.

6. Council and staff in partnership with the Municipal Association of SC have done a solid job on our Five Year Strategic Plan, Now, it is very important that the plan is executed in a deliberate manner.

7. I believe that it’s extremely important that we hire a professional entity to help guide council and staff as we execute the plan. Council must take responsibility for implementing the plan which means more regular council meetings and more council work-sessions.

8. Considering the crucial issues that will confront our town over the next four years, and the number of potential first-time elected officials, experience must be a very important factor for citizens in choosing their councilmember. My experience on council and the knowledge I’ve acquired uniquely qualifies me to lead our community. I am a graduate of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government and I am pursuing certification by the National League of Cities. I have been a student of government, a watchdog for the citizens and a fierce advocate for District 3 during my time on council.

9. I grew up in Washington, DC. Both my mama and daddy were born and reared in Batesburg-Leesville and B-L has been a part of my life since I can remember. I am 50 years old, not married, and have children. I work with The Global Partnership for Children and Families. I am a high school graduate and I attended Georgetown University (Washington, DC) from 1990-1994.

10. I have always been an active neighbor in District 3; before I was elected to council, I worked for Governor Jim Hodges. One day my father and I witnessed a near accident in front of our house at the corner of Howard and Oak Streets; daddy asked if I could help get a four-way stop sign placed at that corner. I spoke with the governor and officials at SCDOT and got the stop sign placed.
It’s not the big things that make a good councilmember… it’s all about being available for a phone call or when neighbors just show up at your house with an issue. I have never refused a citizen based on where they live. Whether its Duncan Street, Ramblewood, Rainbow Dr., Leesville Gardens or Barr Street, I have been available all over this town to lend a hand to people in need. I work with individuals and groups in my council district and other neighbors on litter control, big trash removal, maintaining clear right-of-ways and stormwater drainage ditches and basins. I am very sensitive to providing good customer service to our citizens regardless of their address particularly in maintaining a clean and safe community.
I’ve loved Batesburg-Leesville from the moment I could say Batesburg… My passion as a Councilmember is to help people and to be a good steward of the people’s money. I want to see a clean and more beautiful Batesburg-Leesville. I believe that we should invest in making Batesburg-Leesville a more walkable and bike-friendly community. We need more family activities for our residents and families in the surrounding area.

Gale Gibson

1. My top three important issues are 1. Crime – It’s time for our officers to go out into our communities and do some good old-fashioned foot patrols. This gives the police officers a chance to be proactive rather than reactive in response to property crimes in our community. Our citizens need to have the presence of mind knowing their law enforcement officers. This will also help curtail our number one crime in Batesburg-Leesville which is property crime. 2. Hospitality Tax – This would be a very important decision for the council to make. I have begun doing research on this issue which will help me make a much wiser and educated decision when elected. One of the most surprising facts that I have learned is the legal definition of who is a tourist. A tourist is “anyone who comes into Batesburg-Leesville to spend money but resides outside of Batesburg-Leesville.” Considering how many people spend their money in our community and how that will generate revenues which will benefit our community as a whole. 3. Water Plant- I believe that every resident wants and deserves a clean and sustainable water system. We need to address our existing infrastructure and repair or replace as necessary. It concerns me as a citizen how much of a drainage problem we have every time it rains. I am also concerned with how many times we have had boil water advisories. Common sense dictates that you take care of your backyard first.

2, 3. First and foremost we need to have a substantial infrastructure in order to encourage economic development. Secondly, our downtown districts need to be more attractive and consumer friendly in order to attract potential investors. This is where I see the Hospitality tax being a huge asset to our community.

4. In planning for the preservation of historic B-L, I believe as councilpersons helping to implement the H tax would give us the resources that are needed to help maintain and see that our historic buildings are well manicured and preserved. This will not only make our town a beautiful place to live but also a desirable place to visit and inviting for businesses.

5. On the question of whether or not councilpersons should be paid, I choose to be your voice, and this is a community service.

6. I believe that the strategic plan will benefit our community because it has been implemented with specific goals and objectives. Several of the goals and objectives I have already addressed, i.e. H tax, infrastructure, and the water plant issue. Responsiveness to citizen needs. I have started studying the strategic plan for 2017-2020, and I encourage each and everyone of you to join me by going to www.batesburg-Leesville.org and searching strategic plans by checking out the Town of Batesburg-Leesville Facebook page.

7. Anytime anything is presented to me for a vote that has to deal with strategic planning I will always vote for what I feel is best for this community. I will also follow “Robert’s Rules of Order” if an issue were to present itself outside the scope of the agenda. I would make a motion to open the issue for discussion, or to add to the next council meeting agenda.

8. I have been a resident of District Three for 28 years, and an employee for Lexington District Three for 27 years. I feel that I have my finger on the pulse of our youth. I know what their expectations are and I also understand where we fall short. I have encouraged our youth to become more active in our community, not to just be a citizen but a participating citizen. Because we all honestly know “it does take a village to raise our children.”

9. I grew up in Reading, PA. I have been a citizen of B-L for twenty-eight years. I’m not married and have no children. I am 58 years old. I am currently employed with Lexington School District Three for twenty-seven years where I am an Administrative Assistant for the Counselor’s Office. I worked as a CNA for Lexington Extended Care for two and a half years. I graduated from Aiken Sr. High School. I received an Associates Degree in Accounting from Phillips Junior College in 1991, also an Associates Degree from AIU University online in Business Healthcare in 2009.

 

 

District 5 Candidates

Shirley Mitchell

1. A. Ground maintenance – This is a program for the town, but only parts of this town are being kept. I have a problem with this. B. Sewer lines and the system. The price is going up but the maintenance is null and void. C. Tax – when you put a plan in affect things work. I am not in favor of this until we have a plan.

2. The Hospitality tax is meant to improve a place. Once there is a group of people who want things to become united and improve them, then and only then would I say yes.

3. The only way more jobs can come to Batesburg-Leesville is to bring in more job opportunities. The more a place grows the better it becomes.

4. It is always good to recognize the things that have been here that made up this place, and to make sure it stays intact.

5. I feel if you do a job you get paid, Mayor and council.

6. The Five Year Strategic Plan will work if everyone works together as a team, united.

7. Work together, bring in new ideas; that’s the only way it can work.

8. I was on council before. I had to remove myself because of my health. I have great ideas and can work with others.

9. I have been back in B-L seven years. I am 67 and a widow. I served on B-L Council, am a retired electronic tech, a high school graduate, and have two and a half years of college. The last school I attended was Aiken Technical College.

Robert “Bob” Penick

1. One of the reasons I ran for council originally was because I was concerned about our town’s fresh water supply. Over the last few years, we have gone through several political issues over this. I’m hoping that this can be resolved soon. Much effort has been spent on solving this problem.
Another problem we have that I am concerned about is the traffic flow we have on Hwy 23. There are problems at Mitchell Street, Pine/Line Street, and Saluda Hwy. I’m not sure the Town can resolve these by itself but we need to urge the DOT and our legislative members to fix these problems using the new gas taxes quickly.

2. I was not a fan of the hospitality tax originally. Since learning that only a few communities our size or larger were NOT collecting this tax and how many opportunities it could provide us, I have changed my opinion.

3. I think promoting the industrial site on the east side of town, continuing to support our small businesses, and making us an attractive place to locate will assist economic development.

4. I think that careful zoning and protecting the assets we have is very important. We have some wonderful historic homes and commercial buildings that need to be preserved.

5. I’ve said in the past that the mayor and the council need to be paid a moderate amount for their time and expenses. Not enough that someone would want to run for the office for the money, but enough to cover their expenses and hopefully feel a little guilty if they take the money without contributing to the town.

6. The five-year plan is important because we are looking ahead. But, it is a document that should be fluid and should be flexible so that as things change, it can change as well.

7. Use it as a guide to promote and plan for our growth.

8. My experience is having served on the council for 10 years. Also, I am a graduate of the SC Municipal Association’s school of government and have been active with the town’s operations over the last 25 years.

9. I have lived in Batesburg-Leesville since 1951. I and my wife, Sandra, are both retired and have one son, Chip, who works at Publix in Lexington and is active in BLHS athletics. I graduated from B&L High School and earned a BS in Biology at Tennessee Tech. University as well as a Master’s degree in Public Health Administration from the University of South Carolina. Before retiring I was an epidemiologist with SC DHEC. In addition, I served in the US Air Force from 1973-1977. I have been a member of the American Red Cross in disaster support since 2005 and I have volunteered with them across the country from Caribou, Maine to Tucson, Arizona. I am an active member of the SC Water Environment Association. I am currently the chairman of the Lexington County Joint H2O and Sewer Commission. I also served on the Batesburg Town Council prior to the towns’ consolidation as well.

10. Over the last 4 years I have been working hard to make sure that the town’s budget has been balanced. I’ve worked very hard for a better water supply for our community. I have been very concerned with litter in our town and have been working with trying to make this situation better.

District 6 Candidates

Tillman W. Gives

1. Water Plant – Batesburg-Leesville Town has the potential for growth, however, the need for our water system to be upgraded is paramount to attract businesses and provide much-needed jobs for the citizens.
Town Administration – The way our town is being managed now leaves a lot to be desired. The position of Town Manager has too much authority. I would like to see more power and authority spread out among the Council, Mayor and Town Manager, thereby increasing governing powers more evenly. That is not the way it is being governed now.
Unregistered Vehicles/Dilapidated Buildings – This is a blight on the community. Penalties for unregistered vehicles should be enforced. There is no excuse for dilapidated housing when grants for housing improvement and decent housing are available.

2. The “H” Tax – In my opinion, the “H” tax has not been studied and explored enough by management to know if it would be beneficial to the town. Would it help the town by increasing revenue or harm it by driving businesses away at the time we need to encourage businesses to come into our town?

3. In order to spur economic development, there must be a viable water plant. There also should be a pool of trained workers to pick from. Training and education should be put front and center.

4. Historic Preservation is a good idea, better housing is an even better idea. I will work for both.

5. A Laborer is worthy of its hire. It is a stipend, not a salary. It should be continued. No one is quitting their day job because they receive a stipend.

6. Planning cannot hurt, but planning in the wrong direction can hurt. Let us plan, but plan wisely.

7. I will study the plan carefully and pinpoint each step to see that the plan stays on track.

8. I have a Master Degree in Public Administration. In addition, I worked in Municipal Management for thirty-one (31) years.

9. I was originally born in Batesburg-Leesville, and educated in its public schools. I am married to Donna Gives. We have three daughters and one granddaughter who is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University. I graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Studies and Psychology and received a Master Degree in Public Administration in 1978 from John Jay as well.

Jim Mitchell

1. Water Plant: Since the reliable supply of water is critical for our community and commercial development, I feel this issue is an important one facing Batesburg-Leesville. Improvements must be made to either our existing water plant, or we must continue to explore the implementation of a new water plant and/or water source. The Town and Council are dealing with this issue now, and I would actively engage in the on-going process.
•Unregistered vehicles/dilapidated buildings & Grounds maintenance – parks, grass cutting and edging of curbing and sidewalks/ litter control: I feel strongly that these two items go hand-in-hand. We need to increasingly try to make improvements in the look of our town, not only to foster our own sense of pride but to make Batesburg-Leesville a more desirable and attractive place for prospective new residents and businesses. I will support efforts to enforce, regulate, and mitigate dilapidated buildings and unregistered vehicles, and continued and improved grounds maintenance throughout our city. I’m also strongly in favor of a town-wide litter and recycling program.
• Traffic/ Road and Intersection Improvements: Roads and traffic conditions are becoming more and more significant problems in our community. As a member of the Batesburg-Leesville Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee, I’ve been involved in the group’s discussions with town administration, SC Department of Transportation, and other agencies to investigate what measures can be taken to help remedy some of the traffic and intersection problems. If elected, I would expect to continue working with town government and state agencies to help find solutions to these problems.

2. Batesburg-Leesville needs additional funding to ensure that our town is attractive, safe, and poised for growth, as well as provide resources for our citizens. I support the effort to increase the town’s revenue through a hospitality tax in order for us to accomplish these goals. However, I would also push to have the proper management oversight of the revenue generated by the hospitality tax to ensure that funds are being used to accomplish our town’s established goals.

3. Ensuring that we take care of the issues I’ve responded to referenced above would be part of the equation. Additionally, I would urge Town Council and the Chamber Economic Development Committee to continue taking a proactive role and determined involvement with external agencies such as Lexington County Economic Development to promote Batesburg-Leesville’s assets. The implementation of a staff public relations and marketing position for our town would also be a move that I feel would be worth investigating.

4. I think historic preservation in our town is important, but not at the expense of progress. I would support ways to do both in an equitable manner. This also relates to maintaining our small-town feel since that is also part of Batesburg-Leesville’s charm and appeal.

5. As a public servant, I would not expect payment for something that I volunteered to do in the first place because of my civic responsibility and dedication to the interest of making Batesburg-Leesville a better place in which to live, work and play. Period.

6. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. I feel that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As we experience growth in Batesburg-Leesville, and as we aim for needed improvement goals, a strategic plan will help us navigate the best ways to get there with measurable progress.

7. I would work diligently to see that Council and the town remain focused on the plan, and make necessary adjustments to the plan going forward.

8. Twenty-plus years of civic involvement in Batesburg-Leesville: I’ve served two terms as President of the Batesburg-Leesville Chamber of Commerce. I’ve been a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee since its inception over 16 years ago. I’m a member and past President of the Batesburg Business Association and currently, serve on its Board of Directors for the past two consecutive years. I currently serve as Vice-President of the Summerland Homeowners’ Association and committee member of its Architectural Review Board (2 years each) and have been a local business owner with my wife for the last 22 years.

9. I grew up in Batesburg-Leesville and have lived here recently for the past 22 years. The exception would be for college, the Army, and approximately 18 years living in other cities in the US due to occupation. I have been married for 40 years, have two adult children, both married, and two grandchildren. I am 68 as of September. My affiliations and offices held are listed in #8 above. I’m the co-owner of Mitchell Printing & Graphics, Inc., with Nadine, my wife/business partner. I am a B-L High School graduate and attended The University of South Carolina (three years working on a degree in Journalism and Marketing) – did not graduate due to moving out of state for a job opportunity.

District 7 Candidates

Nick Hallman

1. Community Events- more advertisement and get more input from young people. Historical Homes- they are wonderful to have but they need to be kept up. If the owners cannot keep them up, if they become dilapidated then at the owner’s expense they should come down. I have no problem with historical buildings but they must be kept up to code. Crime/Police Dept.- more visibility of police in neighborhoods; and interact with school-age children more.

2. I do not know enough of the facts to be against or for the Hospitality tax. More information is needed.

3. I feel that the economic development is coming. I think if possible we need more than fast food places.

4. Historic preservation should be kept up by owners.

5. I think the mayor and council should get some kind of pay-stipend for attending meetings and travel should be considered. I think they deserve to get something for their time and energy as the mayor and/or council member.

6. I do not know what the five-year strategic plan is. I need more information about it before I can say if it will benefit the town or not.

7. I would do my part and listen to my constituents as what they want Batesburg-Leesville to accomplish.

8. Qualifications for a good council person are to be a good listener, open to others’ suggestions, honesty, and to attend meetings so you are kept well informed of the business of the town.

9. I grew up in Batesburg-Leesville. I have lived here all my life. I am not married and I have no children. I am 26 years of age. I am a broker. I went to Batesburg-Leesville High and graduated in 2010.

Jason Prouse

1. 3 Priority Items: A) – Water Plant: At this time, I believe this to be the highest priority among items in this list. If we seek to grow as a town (and I do), we need a more substantial and reliable water source and an updated system overall. Without this, we are likely to experience significant difficulty in attracting new businesses and residents, which could depress our ability to improve all-around
B) – Sewer lines and system: In conjunction with the water plant, this is high on my priority list, and for the same reasons. Our sewer system is aging (parts of it may be as much as 100 years old, I’ve heard), and needs an update to accommodate new growth. Though our town staff works diligently to ensure that the system we have is working as good as it possibly can, it’s incumbent upon us to give them the best opportunities to make improvements whenever possible.
C) – Traffic/ Road and Intersection Improvements: This item is a high priority for me as well. As noted before, I’d like to see the town grow, and in keeping up with that growth, we need to spend time and effort to improve the efficiency of our main traffic corridors, specifically Hwy 1 and Hwy 23. I’m of the opinion that since Hwy 23 is where most of our new commercial development is taking place currently, we need to focus on that stretch of road within the town, along with connecting roads and those specific intersections that are currently receiving the most traffic. Overall, I think we’re in pretty fair shape, but we do need to plan for the future.

2. ‘H’ Tax: Good Idea? Yes, I do. I believe B-L has strong potential to be a greater economic ‘hub’ for this region. In order to be that, though, we need to be able to draw in new businesses and residents. One of the keys to doing that is to have resources in the town that are appealing enough to those potential businesses/homeowners that would make them want to leave where they are to come here and plant roots alongside the rest of us. The ‘H’ tax would create a strong funding source to allow us to improve aspects of the town to begin the process of drawing those folks here.

3. Spur economic development: Of the many options available, one action I would recommend is this: I believe the council can create tax incentives in the historical areas (for a certain, limited period of time) (Batesburg, as an example) that would serve to draw in new investment from business owners into our existing buildings. In addition to this, we could adopt/create new zoning areas that would allow businesses to renovate/rebuild some of the old buildings that are in poor condition, by modifying or eliminating the building setback requirements to allow them to use the entire width of the space instead of losing building square-footage to accommodate a setback for construction.

4. Historic Preservation: I do believe a plan for historic preservation is necessary, as we don’t want to lose a part of what made us who we are. One of the options for preservation is to create ‘Historic Districts’, or ‘Historic Corridors’ (or something similar), wherein any modifications to existing buildings would have to meet specific architectural guidelines for change, and those guidelines would have to be developed very clearly as part of the adoption of such historic zones.

5. Unpaid position: Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that the departing council decided to eliminate pay for themselves. It’s not that I disagree with the reason for that change, but as the apostle, Paul wrote in the New Testament, “the worker is worth his wages.” There is much work to be done by the town council, and much time will be spent away from their businesses and families to complete that important work. Having said that, however, I do not intend to press the issue as a council member, as I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to serve, and I knew when I filed to run for this office that it would not be a ‘paid’ position.

6. Strategic Plan; If the town wants to find growth, and then to be able to manage it effectively, then a strategic plan is a must. It’s a great blueprint for helping council and town staff stay on target. The key to this plan, as with any other plan, is to ensure that it’s executed properly, and if changes are needed, those changes will be considered with clear objectives laid out before the council and town.

7. Strategic Plan success: Step one is to understand the plan fully, to get a full grasp on what the ultimate goals are from the plan. There is much information in the adopted plan, and so it will take some time to digest it fully.

8. Why a good councilman? I’m a pretty decent listener (don’t ask my wife! – just kidding). I’m not one who makes rash decisions and runs off on my own to pursue or achieve something without input from others. It’s my nature to seek the counsel of other people (hopefully wiser people) when making decisions and to always have a mindset that moves us in a positive direction. I understand that sometimes that movement is slow and tedious, and other times it happens rapidly. Regardless of the speed, the key is to stay steady, with a look to the past (to stay grounded), an understanding of the present (to understand our strengths and weaknesses), and a pursuit of better things for the future (to make a better place for those that come after us).

9. I grew up in Gilbert and have lived in B-L since August 2013. My wife, Kara, and I have been married 15 years. We have three daughters: Jensis (12), Melodee (8), and Isabella (6). I am 36 and am a Deacon – First Baptist Church of Batesburg. There are a few job titles that come with my jobs: Hammer Construction – Commercial Contractor – Director of Operations HammerHead Utilities – Utilities Contractor – Chief Financial Officer/Project Manager; Heritage Properties – New Residential Construction – Owner/Partner. I am a Gilbert High School graduate.

District 8

Magen Hallman

I believe that without knowing all the facts on all these concerns addressed in these questions it will be hard to have a solid opinion on these matters. I do however believe that with programs such as the hospitality tax and the approval of the five-year strategic plan we are making progress within our community. I know that my decision to become a civic leader wasn’t based on being paid, but rather it was a full-hearted desire to support the community that I live in.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Yorktown, Virginia. I earned my Associates Degree in Emergency Health Sciences and a Bachelor Degree in Bio Medical Sciences from Jefferson College of Health Sciences in 2009. Currently, I’m Training and Compliance Officer with Lexington County Emergency Medical Service. In 2016, I moved to Batesburg-Leesville, my husband and I have a 4-year-old daughter who attends the Primary School.

This is a rare election with seven seats open and possibly eight if District 4 Councilman Charles Simpkins should win the mayoral seat. On November 13, there will be many new, fresh faces sitting on council. It is very important that every registered voter in B-L cast a ballot to ensure your district is represented by the best candidate available.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Batesburg-Leesville Leisure Center and at the old Leesville College. B-L residents will be voting for mayor and seven council members. Please vote, each one is vitally important.