CHESTER -- A former sheriff wants to rescue western Chester County from being what he calls the "caboose" of the community, while the Chester County Council incumbent he seeks to unseat hopes voters look to his record when going to the polls.
Democrats John Wayne Holcombe, 62, and County Councilman Tommy Martin, 55, will square off in the June 10 primary in a race for the District 4 seat that Martin has held for four years. The seat represents one of the most rural districts in the county.
Martin says taking care of issues such as road repair and beautification is time-consuming, but that he has helped make those things priorities during his term.
"As with most things, it takes time to get things accomplished," Martin said about the projects. "We try to get things done as expeditiously as possible."
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Holcombe said he wants to push for better roads and cleaner roadsides, but said he doesn't know yet how the projects would work out in the county's budget.
"We need these things done, whether taxpayers are paying for it or the county is paying for it," he said. "I'd like to think we should be able to do it with little burden on the taxpayers."
Martin said his main agenda is bringing jobs to all Chester County residents and reducing the 10 percent unemployment rate in the county.
Holcombe: A tidier district
Holcombe says he's ready to "go to work full time" for the district where he has lived for more than 30 years. He's a retired corporal from the S.C. Highway Patrol and president-elect of the Chester Civitans.
Repairing roads and cleaning up abandoned properties are among Holcombe's priorities. Some of the highways that run through the district need more work than just patches, he said, and the district can do a better job in clearing its abandoned cars, houses and dump sites.
Holcombe also hopes to bring an ambulance and police substation to the Wilksburg area, which he says would cut down emergency response time for residents along Cabel Road and S.C. 49.
"We, the taxpayers, pay for and deserve these services," he said.
Another problem in the district is cell phone reception, Holcombe said. He wants to bring a cell phone tower to the area to make communication less of a hassle. That's an item that starts at $500,000 and has been on the council's agenda for the last four years, Martin said.
Holcombe, who served as sheriff from 1996 to 2000, has suggestions about what should be done with the Chester County Detention Center, which has failed state inspections 17 straight years for being understaffed and poorly supervised.
Holcombe proposes a master control room where detention officers could control a video surveillance camera inside and outside the building. He also supports the construction of a new jail.
Martin: Money's tight
Martin agrees that many roads in District 4 need work, but he says the county has to take things one step at a time. The cost of repairing roads has doubled in the past year because of fuel prices, and road maintenance officials must analyze daily traffic on rural roads before deciding which are of most concern.
Mount Pleasant Church Road and Quinn Road are next on Martin's list in District 4, he said. Dirt roads are in a rotation for repair work across the county.
Martin said he's most concerned with economic development throughout Chester County. Infrastructure for industry is not available in District 4, he said, where water and sewer lines do not reach a majority of the district.
In his four years as county councilman, Martin said yes to the York Technical College Chester campus and the Poly-America plant, which the county hopes will bring industry and opportunity to its residents.
He also supported the beautification of Exit 65 and grants for gang control and health care.
Martin said the council has done a lot during his term, including coming together as a team.
"We've gone into a new era," Martin said. "There's no fussing, no bickering. Everybody's on the same agenda and they all want the best for the county."
Members of the Chester County Council are paid $8,560 annually and serve four-year terms.
Democrats John Wayne Holcombe and County Councilman Tommy Martin weigh in on the issues of cleaning up the district, economic development and the county jail.
ABOUT THE CANDIDATES
• Age: 55
• Occupation: Right of way, vegetation and inmate foreman for the S.C. Department of Transportation in Fairfield County.
• Political experience: District 4 incumbent, served on the Chester County school board for six years.
• Education: Graduated from Chester High; continuing education classes at York Technical College
• Family: Wife, Freda; and son, T.J.
John Wayne Holcombe
• Age: 62
• Occupation: Retired
• Political experience: Served 4 years as Chester County sheriff
• Education: Graduated from Dacusville High School in upper Pickens County; spent two years studying law enforcement
• Family: Wife, Pat; and son, Brad, 34