Pickens County Council District 3


Candidates for Pickens County Council District 3 were asked the following three questions:

1. What, in your opinion, is the role of economic development within Pickens County and what would be your plan for next term?

2. The Local Government Fund is once again underfunded in the state’s budget. How does the county handle this shortage of funds from the state?

3. What is the biggest issue facing Pickens County and what is your proposed solution to that issue?

Randy Crenshaw

The role of economic development provides many things for a county. Jobs improve the quality of life and stabilizes families. It increases the tax base which helps to support community services and maintain infrastructure. Our schools benefit from a healthy economic environment and in return our businesses are able to obtain well trained employees. If we have good economic development, our citizens will not have to travel out of county, or even worse, have to move out of county to find employment.

During the recent recession we saw slow economic development in Pickens County, but this year we have experienced a welcome turn around with the addition of over 300 jobs. It is the role of County leaders and our economic development professionals to make sure that this growth continues. Economic development, as always , will be a top priority during my next term on council.

Having the county’s local government fund cut by the state is something we have dealt with for the past several years. We have been able to work through these cuts by conservatively managing what we do have. We have not had to cut any county services, all of the county’s employees have job security and we have maintained a balanced budget without tax increases. We have had to put some projects on hold, and did not replace employees that retired. Hopefully these funds will be restored as our economy improves. Until then we will continue to manage the same as a business would that goes through economic hard times as we’ve seen the last few years.

The biggest issue facing Pickens County other than what could happen if coal ash is allowed in our county, is what to do about the county jail. The coal ash issue is in the hands of our attorneys and hopefully they will prevail.

County council realizes there is a need to improve the county jail and some steps have already been taken. Some of the questions that must be answered are, do we need a new jail, can we expand what we have, what capacity is needed, is our court system moving inmates in a timely manner? What can be done to cut the crime rate? What can be done about the growing drug problem? This will be a major project for this county and it must be done right. It will take serious planning and all involved will need to work together.

Jimmy L. Davis

I feel that the economic development in Pickens County is moving at a slow pace bringing small industries in that employ only a handful of our residents causing our residents to have to drive elsewhere for jobs out of our county, Seems as if we gain a industry we lose one. If elected I would work closely with the industries that are already here as well as industries looking for a county to come into in order to keep the ones we have and to bring newer and larger industries in so that our citizens could work in the county they live in with decent wages.

The local government fund as I understand it is that the state is dropping the ball on their end of the fund, leaving the county with the big ticket items ,But of course not being on the council and having all the details I can only go by what I am told ,so if that is a fact then if elected id do everything in my power to spend the tax money wisely and put it toward only necessary items, I would spend it as if it was coming from my pocket ,I don’t like wasteful spending and I am not for wasting money on items that may not even benefit the citizens of Pickens county .

I feel that any councilman should be aware of the economic situation that every citizen is faced with, stagnant wages and rising prices from everything such as gasoline, food and rising medical expenses ,and our roads and bridges. If elected I will do everything in my power to stand up for the citizens in this county ,to make them aware of what is going on and to fight to keep taxes as low as possible, for with everything else going on our citizens doesn’t need the county government to make it harder on our citizens.

Wes Hendricks

Presently, economic development is not a priority within county government. Pickens County is presently competing with the “Corridor of Shame” for lack of economic development in South Carolina in recent years. All the right words and all the right releases in the papers sound good but it falls on deaf ears. The lack of action is heard because it is louder. A sincere effort demonstrates a true commitment.

One huge solution is joining Upstate Alliance. Our one man recruitment show is not enough. Our budget for this guy cannot compete with the budget of the 10 county membership of Upstate Alliance. Bobby Hitt, state commerce director said point he does not deal with counties, only alliances. We must get in the game if we are going to be a successful player that lands the large employing companies in Pickens County. Upstate Alliance and our recruiting employee can work together to give us an advantage over other counties.

When funds are low like in any situation, you look at where the present budget is being spent. Next, you prioritize spending. When the cuts are made if necessary, you see if the cuts are things you can do without. If there are things you can’t do without, a look into the general fund is explored. If the general fund can’t do the trick, the last resort is a tax increase.

No one wants a tax increase including myself but we can never say never to a tax increase because we don’t know the future. I an owner of family land in Pickens County belonging to the Hendricks family for several centuries. With that being said, our generation is a torch bearer for the next generation. It is our responsibility to preserve Pickens County for our children. Every one of us had the previous generation sacrifice for us. It is our turn to step up to the plate for the next generation. Failure to do so is a neglect of our civil duty and responsibility with no exceptions!

There are three big issues facing Pickens County. They are economic development, the jail, and education. All three are intertwined as the prosperity of one benefits the other.

Improving economic development is big cure to a lot of ills. It increases the tax base for the county giving our residents more jobs at home with less travel and more family time. With an increased tax base, we will be able to address our jail situation with minimal to no discomfort on us as tax payers in the county.

In order to land big companies, we must demonstrate a sincere commitment to education in Pickens County. Education is the greatest tool to fight poverty and it proves that we can provide a trained workforce for our future employers in Pickens County with our support of Tri-County Tech. I personally can tell you the benefit of having a good education. I am living proof. It has allowed me to have a career in Pickens County giving back to our future. Education has made a great difference in my life and can in everyone else’s life.

I feel that the economic development in Pickens County is moving at a slow pace bringing small industries in that employ only a handful of our residents causing our residents to have to drive elsewhere for jobs out of our county, Seems as if we gain a industry we lose one. If elected I would work closely with the industries that are already here as well as industries looking for a county to come into in order to keep the ones we have and to bring newer and larger industries in so that our citizens could work in the county they live in with decent wages.

The local government fund as I understand it is that the state is dropping the ball on their end of the fund, leaving the county with the big ticket items ,But of course not being on the council and having all the details I can only go by what I am told ,so if that is a fact then if elected id do everything in my power to spend the tax money wisely and put it toward only necessary items, I would spend it as if it was coming from my pocket ,I don’t like wasteful spending and I am not for wasting money on items that may not even benefit the citizens of Pickens county .

I feel that any councilman should be aware of the economic situation that every citizen is faced with, stagnant wages and rising prices from everything such as gasoline, food and rising medical expenses ,and our roads and bridges. If elected I will do everything in my power to stand up for the citizens in this county ,to make them aware of what is going on and to fight to keep taxes as low as possible, for with everything else going on our citizens doesn’t need the county government to make it harder on our citizens.

Alex Saitta

In April 2008 the number of jobs in the county peaked at 38,029. The latest figure is 34,371. The economic development strategy of our leaders has been to find that company to come in by giving them a sweetheart deal of lower tax rates, and then raise taxes on everyone else. True, we must work to recruit that one or two big companies using incentives, but all leaders from the county council to school board to city councils to our state reps must say and do what they can to make the county more fertile for all businesses so all can grow and create new jobs.

That is, all our leaders must be conscious not add any more burdens to existing business with higher tax rates, fees or regulation. I’ve sat in too many meetings and read too many Facebook posts where the aim was to raise tax rates. Higher taxes would reduce personal consumption and business investment. More of both are needed to power economic growth and create jobs.

The decades of government over-spending, and all the taxation and borrowing to make up for it has put US economic growth on a slower path. The slower economic growth has led to slower government revenue growth. As a result the state and the federal governments are “underfunding” many things.

Instead of screaming louder for more state or federal money that is not there, our leaders must do more to promote economic growth. Until then, government budgets will remain tight so the school district, cities and county governments must better manage their current funds. That means narrowing priorities to what is most important, and eliminating waste and shifting those savings to the high priorities.

I was a financial analyst 17 years. The past 12 years I served on the school board, helping to formulate the district’s budget. If elected I will dig into the county budget, and help the council direct existing funds to its highest priorities and insure the government is efficiently using its tax dollars. Growing the economy and better managing tax dollars is the solution, not whining to the state legislature.

It is a big county with a 120,000 residents. I see five priorities: road and bridge repair; jail overcrowding and dealing with the growing drug problem in the county; increasing new businesses, promoting the expansion of existing businesses and job creation; bringing down ISO ratings at fire stations and better communication with the public in terms of what are the top priorities, potential solutions, financial obstacles and uncovering which direction the public feels the council should go in.

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Information for this article compiled by D. C. Moody.

Information for this article compiled by D. C. Moody.

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