For the first time in two decades, there’s no incumbent on the ballot for Rock Hill’s Ward 5 seat on City Council.
Three Rock Hill natives – all making their first run for public office – are vying for the seat which Councilman Osbey Roddey has held for 24 years.
Roddey, a pastor at Langrum Branch Baptist Church in York, said earlier this year that he would not seeking re-election in order to spend with his church and his family.
Hopefuls to succeed Roddey in the Oct. 15 election are Nikita Jackson, a sales representative with Agape Medical Mart; Mildred A. Moore, a retired teacher and English professor; and Ann Williamson-Morrison, a retired flight attendant.
The Ward 5 district includes many homes and businesses in southern Rock Hill such as those along Albright Road and Saluda Street and those near South Pointe High, Saluda Trail Middle, Oakdale Elementary and Sylvia Circle Elementary schools.
Parts of Crawford Road, Heckle Boulevard and downtown Rock Hill are also in Ward 5.
For decades, Ward 5 residents have complained of stormwater drainage issues that leave water standing in the road and in yards after heavy rains.
The area’s residents have also said more economic development is needed in the area to provide jobs and places to shop and eat in Ward 5.
During a candidate forum last Tuesday in Rock Hill, residents said Ward 5 could benefit from better community relations with local law enforcement officers.
At the forum, Moore was quick to point out that Ward 5 is not “behind” the rest of the city, though many people assume it is.
But there are some aspects of the area that need more city attention, she said, such as the stormwater issue.
Williamson-Morrison says the key to improving Ward 5 will be empowering its residents – which is her main objective.
She wants the area’s residents to “come out in droves,” she said, and ask the city to step up its efforts in the ward.
Jackson wants the city to partner with county and state officials to tackle major problems such as stormwater drainage failures.
She also wants Rock Hill to beef up neighborhood-centered programs such as “Weed and Seed,” a crime eradication initiative she was once involved with.
At last week’s forum, Williamson-Morrison said she’s determined to steer city resources toward Ward 5 to make it “look as beautiful as Old Town,” Rock Hill’s downtown district.
She says Ward 5 residents usually spend decades asking for improvements until something is done.
“In a sense, we are behind,” she said. “We need to be elevated.”
More aggressive marketing of Ward 5 to prospective businesses would be a boost, Jackson said. She supports finding incentives to attract investors to the area.
Jackson said she believes “Ward 5 is the place to be.”
Large, vacant pieces of land in the ward could work to its benefit, Moore said, adding that the city could market the available properties to industrial businesses, which could add jobs.
When courting new business, Williamson-Morrison wants Rock Hill to look for a grocery store to move into Ward 5, which residents often say is needed near their homes.
The ward includes some commercial areas such as Saluda Street and Rock Hill’s downtown core.
New commercial developments in downtown include a four-story office building with an attached parking garage and a $6 million public park, which city officials hope will spur more private investment.
In recent years, the city has spent millions of dollars on beautification projects in the Saluda Street area.
All three Ward 5 candidates say they hope the recently-completed Albright Road widening project will help draw more businesses to Rock Hill’s southern side.
Upcoming election information:
Rock Hill’s election will be held on Oct. 15. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Where to vote on Oct. 15
Voters in the following precincts will cast ballots:
• Highland Park, located at Belleview School, 501 Belleview Rd.
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068