May 25, 2008

District 5 challenger says Chappell not looking toward the future

Ashley Martin hopes to uproot Curwood Chappell from the seat he's held on the York County Council for 16 years.

This is the second time since Chappell was elected in 1992 that he has faced a challenge for the District 5 seat. In 2000, he defeated Democrat Marilyn Neely by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Martin, 27, says youth and long-term foresight are missing from that County Council seat.

"I feel like my opponent is pretty much locked in the different era," she said, "where growth isn't as rapid as it now. He's not looking at the future picture. Our money doesn't go as far now as it used to."

Chappell, 78, did not return repeated calls requesting an interview and declined in person last week to talk for this story. "I don't see no need in that," he said.

The Republicans will face off June 10 for the seat representing parts of southern Rock Hill and southern York County. No Democrat has filed to run for the seat.

Martin: "I'm not scared"

Martin said she joined the race so residents have a choice. "I feel the last eight years, my opponent ruled by intimidation, and I'm not scared," she said. "My people want more; I want more."

She said more jobs are needed in Rock Hill, and shopping centers and unique small businesses would fit in Fort Mill. Martin would like to use tax breaks and incubators to get the small-business owner interested in those areas.

"I feel like we don't really have a plan," Martin said. "We should go shopping for these types of business."

Economic growth rates high in the 10-to-20-year plan that Martin would like to develop for the district.

Improving Rock Hill schools and maintaining the excellence in Fort Mill schools also are high on Martin's list.

Martin supports a proposed adequate public facilities ordinance that could require developers to pay for the school overcrowding they could cause.

She wants to look at other how other school districts are dealing with the recent school funding shortfalls.

"Yes, we want to set precedents and be first at things; we want to learn from others' mistakes, too," she said.

Communication with the school districts, cities and among council members is a key for Martin.

"Open dialogue on council is so important. My opponent silences others' ideas and discussion," she said.

As the county continues to grow, particularly in Fort Mill, Martin said she wants the county to address the needs associated with that growth, including police, fire and infrastructure, to make sure quality of life is maintained.

"I'm not doing this for political gain or ladder for the future," she said. "Someone needs to do something about this now."

Chappell: "I'm not running against anyone"

Some say Chappell stands up for the people whose views are overlooked, while others counter his style can be insensitive and offensive.

"I'm not running against anyone," Chappell said at a recent forum. "I'm running for the chair that belongs to you. If you want someone in that seat that's going to roll over, don't put me in it. I've sat there for 16 years. Yeah. I've had some fights. I've been loyal to the Republican party."

Chappell has taken a hands-on approach to making decisions for the county. In the last term, he sent a letter to state representatives asking for help to stop a construction and demolition debris landfill on Quarry Road in York.

He also voted against paying to study whether Dave Lyle Boulevard should be extended into Lancaster County, saying the county needs to fix the roads it already has.

Chappell said he has gotten roads paved in his district and has been to the state Department of Transportation 11 times trying to improve Doby's Bridge Road.

"If you want someone with guts in that seat, somebody who will stand up for you, put me back in that seat, and I'll give you two more years," he said.

County Council members serve two-year terms and receive $15,500 a year.

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