Echols running for a 5th term as Rock Hill mayor

adouglas@heraldonline.comJune 5, 2013 

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    • Graduate of Mars Hill College; holds graduate degrees from Western Carolina and Winthrop universities.

    Served four 4-year terms as Rock Hill mayor and two terms on the City Council.

    Previously worked as athletic director and football coach at Northwestern High School and associate athletic director for Winthrop in the 1980s. More recently served as commissioner of the South Atlantic Conference.

    Wife, Sylvia and son, Chad, and daughter, Sara.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols announced Wednesday night he’s running for a fifth term.

The city he’s served as mayor for 15 years has much excitement ahead, he told supporters at a campaign launch in the city’s new Old Town Market Hall.

“It really is a political campaign but – I guess particularly because I’ve had a number of years of experience now – I’ve never really tried to think about it in terms of politics as much as I have helping to build this community,” Echols said.

“There’s a great foundation that’s been laid for us. It is such an exciting time for our community in so many different ways.”

About 80 people attended the event Wednesday, the majority of whom were listed as Echols’ supporters.

The sponsor list included more than 60 people, among them were Clinton Junior College President Elaine Copeland; Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio and his wife, Gale; local NAACP chapter President Melvin Poole; and former Rock Hill Mayor Betty Jo Rhea.

Current Rock Hill City Council members Kathy Pender and Osbey Roddey and former council members Susie Hinton and John Gettys are also supporting Echols’ re-election campaign.

Rock Hill’s local election will be held Oct. 15.

Filing for office opens July 17 and closes Aug. 16.

City Council representatives from Wards 4, 5 and 6 are also up for election.

Mayor Pro-Tem John Black holds the Ward 4 seat, representing most neighborhoods in the northwestern part of the city.

Roddey holds the Ward 5 seat, which includes many neighborhoods in the Albright Road and Saluda Street area of south Rock Hill.

Councilman Jim Reno holds the Ward 6 seat, representing the northern end of Cherry Road, the Fewell Park area and many neighborhoods along Charlotte Avenue, near Winthrop University.

Should a challenger announce a run against Echols, the contender would likely come from Ward 3, 4 or 6 – the city’s more conservative districts, said Rick Whisonant, political science professor at York Technical College.

But, competition is not likely, he said.

Echols has “a pretty good cross-section of support and especially a huge amount of support in the Democratic wards, for sure,” Whisonant said.

City campaign races are not partisan but “everything’s political,” he said.

Should Echols need help financing his campaign, Whisonant said he’d be shocked if the Democratic Party didn’t “answer the call,” even though the city election ballot won’t list a party beside any candidate’s name.

“He supports, himself, a number of candidates. Yes, they’re going to be primarily, if not exclusively, Democratic,” he said.

“And in return, certainly, everyone in the Democratic Party knows – quite well –Doug Echols.”

Pat Calkins, chairperson of the York County Democratic Party, attended Echols’ campaign launch Wednesday.

Partisan politics doesn’t apply in local elections, she said.

“What matters is what works and making progress toward being the kind of city we want to be,” Calkins said.

“He’s already taken us so far. I think he continues to have the vision we need for a prosperous future.”

The future of Rock Hill, Echols said, is what inspired him to toss his name in the hat again for mayor.

Economic development downtown, the city’s outdoor center and industrial business park at Riverwalk and the emerging “Knowledge Park” plan show the city’s promise, he said.

“And you couple that with what I consider to be a really good city management team, a city that’s got a strong financial base, we’ve got wonderful public-private partnerships ... there’s strong economic development efforts and interest in our city.”

Momentum is there, he said, and he wants to be a part of it “if the people of Rock Hill will so honor me once again to be a part of that effort.”


Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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