Longtime Rock Hill councilman Roddey won’t seek re-election

adouglas@heraldonline.comJuly 23, 2013 

Osbey Roddey

After nearly 24 years on Rock Hill’s City Council, Councilman Osbey Roddey says he will not be running for re-election in October.

Roddey’s Ward 5 seat, council seats for Ward 4 and 6 and Rock Hill’s mayor position are up for election this fall.

Mayor Doug Echols and Mayor Pro-Tem John Black from Ward 4 have filed for re-election.

Rock Hill natives Ann Williamson-Morrison and Mildred Moore have filed with the York County voter registration and elections department to run against each other for the Ward 5 seat.

The longest-serving current council member, Roddey says he plans to continue to serve as pastor at Langrum Branch Baptist Church in York and spend time with his family.

With more time available, he said he’ll focus his efforts on revamping the old Friendship College campus in Rock Hill to “bring back life” to the site.

He’d like to see coordination between city and York County officials, Roddey said, to rebuild and use the property as an asset for the community.

The campus, he said, is a “vital part of the city on the west side.”

He points to stormwater drainage improvements along Crawford Road and road work along Saluda Street and Albright Road as a major accomplishments during his six terms on the council.

Citywide economic development efforts have been ongoing during his time on council – after Rock Hill “took the roof off of downtown,” Roddey said, officials focused on the city’s business parks.

Attracting new business and fresh development, he said, is the “lifeblood of the city” and a “major part of what keeps us moving.”

In addition to other city appointments, Roddey serves as a member of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. board.

Revitalizing former textile mills in and around downtown and the old Celanese Celriver plant property near Rock Hill’s Riverwalk development have also been important, he said.

The former Celriver plant property is now a part of the Riverwalk Industrial Park, near the city’s outdoor recreation center, which includes the Giordana Velodrome and an under-construction BMX racetrack.

Closer to Roddey’s district, the old Arcade Mill site has been cleared and is now used as a green space in the Hagins-Fewell neighborhood.

The site “was an eyesore for a long time before we went into that area,” he said.

The mill burned six years after Roddey was elected to the council.

With help of residents and the Rock Hill Council of Neighborhoods, city officials took responsibility for the site and demolished what was left of the mill after the fire, starting a cleanup effort that lasted several years.

In his time on the council, Roddey says he was fortunate to have never faced “serious opposition.”

During his initial campaign, Roddey ran against a friend, Rock Hill lawyer Paul Knox, which was an “interesting challenge,” he said.

There’s still work to be done in Ward 5’s neighborhoods, he said, to fix stormwater drainage problems that cause standing water on roads and in yards after heavy rain.

“It’s a real, real problem in some of our areas,” Roddey said.

Ward 5 hopefuls Moore and Williamson-Morrison say they’re ready to tackle the stormwater problems if elected.

Williamson-Morrison has served on a York County stormwater advisory board and serves on Rock Hill’s stormwater advisory committee.

A retired flight attendant with US Airways, the 68-year-old wanted to run for the Ward 1 City Council seat when it opened last year after former councilwoman Susie Hinton resigned.

But, after redistricting prompted by the 2010 census, she realized she no longer lives inside Ward 1’s boundaries.

Councilwoman Sandra Oborokumo ran unopposed for the Ward 1 seat.

Williamson-Morrison had lived in Ward 1 all her life, she said, until city officials voted to redraw Rock Hill’s ward boundary lines.

Ward 1 and 5 are “basically the same community,” she said.

It’s not enough to just attend meetings and vote as a representative, she said.

“I want to be able to be a voice” on the council and “be a resource” to Ward 5 residents, Williamson-Morrison said.

Fixing stormwater problems in Rock Hill, she said, has taken too long.

“These are areas that should not have been left out,” she said.

Moore agrees, saying stormwater drainage issues and improving roads in Ward 5 will be part of the conversation as she campaigns.

The city’s recent move to increase its electricity rate for customers is also an issue for residents in her area, Moore said.

Many people complain and want solutions for the stormwater problems, she said, but “nothing seems to be done.”

If elected, Moore said the issue of flooding in yards and streets will be a top priority.

A retired English teacher and Clinton College professor, the 64-year-old said she wants to find ways for the city to divert money to solve the “ongoing problem” of inadequate stormwater drainage.

New development and job creation seems to happen in other areas of Rock Hill, Moore said, and Ward 5 residents sometimes feel left out.

Echols, Reno and Black running again

With four terms as Rock Hill mayor under his belt, Echols announced in June that he’s running for re-election.

Barbara Emery, 48, best known in Rock Hill as “Pickles da Clown,” told The Herald last month that she planned to run against Echols but said on Tuesday that she doesn’t have the time or the money to campaign.

A consultant told Emery that running against Echols could cost up to $250,000, she said, and campaigning would consume six days of her week.

Echols has $11,136 of cash on hand for his campaign, according to a July 10 filing with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

The mayor would probably be able to raise more than she would, Emery said, although he hasn’t spent up to $250,000 in the past during election cycles.

Running for office would also likely detract from her business as an entertainer and seamstress, she said.

Emery says she plans to attend future public meetings and perhaps form a citizens group to address issues in Rock Hill.

“Maybe I’ll be the peoples’ voice that way,” she said.

Councilman Jim Reno from Ward 6 is also seeking a fifth term on council but has not yet filed, he said.

Reno – who was first elected in 1998 – plans to register his candidacy this week, he said, and take his 18-year-old daughter, Morgan, who will register to vote in the same county office.

Black is seeking a second term and has filed with the county elections office, he told The Herald last week.

Rock Hill will hold its election on Oct. 15.

The cost to file for any seat is $160. Filing closes at 5 p.m. on Aug. 16.

Rock Hill’s elections are nonpartisan, meaning no primaries will be held and candidates run unaffiliated with no political parties on the ballot.

Elected members of the council will be sworn in at the first City Council meeting in 2014, which has been scheduled for Jan. 13.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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