Candidates attend Democratic forum | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | November 2, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: November 1, 2017 at 12:15 pm
Nov. 2, 6 p.m.,
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
The candidates for the Walterboro municipal election made their way to Saint Center Ministries the evening of Oct. 26 to make their case for election.
The candidates for Walterboro’s mayor and three city council posts took turns addressing the small audience, briefly touching on their biographies and offering their visions of the issues.
Mayor Bill Young, outlined the progress he and city council have made in a number of areas.
“I believe you can best judge what a person will do in the future not by what he promises to do, but by what he has actually done,” Young said.
His challenger, Marguerite Chrissy Johnson, making her first bid for public office, admitted to being “the new kid on the block.”
She suggested that Walterboro’s future lies in its past, a time when the city had an industrial base providing employment. “If Walterboro is going to boom, people need to be working. They cannot keep the bucks in the ’Boro if people are driving to Charleston to work.”
Carl Brown, who had another engagement to attend, was the first council candidate to speak.
Brown said people have asked him why he wanted to become involved in city government. He tells them that the community has been good to his family and his family business, Mitchell Construction. “I wanted to give back.”
He said two of his major concerns are the poor impression visitors get when coming into the city and the city’s lack of a full-time building inspector. “We need to do a little better job cleaning up our city.” He suggested that contracting with an outside company for building inspection services was likely to cause delays for contractors and developers.
One audience member wondered if Brown’s being a contactor would be a conflict of interest. He said that his company would not bid on city projects if he was elected. Brown added, “It might help to have a contractor on council,” saying he had seen some moves the city has made that would have benefited from his experience.
Brown was followed by James Broderick, who is seeking re-election to one of the three posts.
Broderick’s time before the audience found him focusing on the importance of building relationships and trust.” Trust is one of the most important things to have in a relationship,” he said.
Strengthening the relationship between the city and county council has enabled the two governmental bodies to “solve the problems and more forward.”
Addressing Brown’s concern about the potential for delays in handling building permits and inspections, Broderick said although the building officials under contract with the city are only in the office two days a week, they are available all the time. “All a contractor has to do is call.”
In his four years on council, he added, he has worked with his fellow council members to ensure the city’s boards and committees are fully staffed, and have memberships that are diverse and from all over the city.
Jimmy Syfrett, the other incumbent councilperson seeking a return to office, followed Broderick in the program.
He explained that his experience includes 16 years as a member of the Walterboro Fire Department. After his daughter graduated from high school, he said, he decided to seek public office.
In an earlier presentation, it had been suggested that residents need a method to approach officials with their concerns or comments. Syfrett said Mayor Young conducts a roundtable a month to receive those comments. He said he has visited Young’s roundtable multiple times and found himself the only one visiting the mayor.
Syfrett asked voters to look at council’s performance when casting their ballot. “Your city council is constantly working to make Walterboro a better place to live,” he said.
Greg Pryor told the audience that his philosophy is “I believe in God, family and community. I think we can all be more involved in our community.
“I support city council and what it is doing now. They are moving in the right direction,” Pryor said. “I want to be a part of that.”
He suggested that crime in Walterboro “is the same as you see in every small town.” And when it comes to suggestions of a racial divide, “I just don’t see it.”
Peggy Hammond, when it was her turn, addressed Pryor’s crime comment. “I live in a place where crime is very high.”
She said that she is running for city council to represent “the other Walterboro,” the portions of the city that she believes are ignored by city officials.
“Council can’t always be made up of lawyers, doctors and what have you,” Hammond said. “You need someone with good common sense.” Someone, she added, who wants to make Walterboro better for everyone.
The sixth candidate in the council race, Ben Mitchell, did not attend the forum.