York County Council candidates for District 5 traded barbs and talked trash during a political forum Tuesday night in Rock Hill.
Rock Hill lawyer Christi Cox and Fort Mill building inspector Marty Taylor butted heads over pending county lawsuits that date back nearly a decade during a panel at the Galleria-area Holiday Inn.
The forum was hosted by GPS Conservatives for Action, a local political action committee.
Cox and Taylor will square off in a Republican primary in June for a district that includes parts of Rock Hill and Fort Mill and a council seat that has been held by longtime incumbent Curwood Chappell.
Chappell declined a bid at re-election for the first time in 22 years, opting to endorse Cox and emphasizing her work as a lawyer to block private landfills in the county.
Cox’s campaign has focused on Taylor’s involvement with one of two current landfills being contested by York County in a suit that has been tied up in court since 2008 and seeks at least $5 million in damages.
Both candidates claimed at several points during Tuesday’s forum that neither campaign was about landfills, but both ended up speaking extensively about the issue.
Taylor provided a packet of printouts to the audience that said he was no longer involved in the matter and stands to gain only $300,000 from the county in losses he sustained trying to permit a landfill in the early 2000s. Cox referred to her efforts in Columbia with state lawmakers to keep solid waste control in county hands.
When asked by audience members about where the candidates stood on issues outside of landfills, both candidates emphasized their stance on retaining local control.
“I’d like to bring county council to your door,” Taylor said of his approach to increase political participation in the district.
Taylor said he would host community meetings at rotating locations throughout the district and create an online system that polls residents on county issues as a “tool” for decision making. He said he would work to make each council member's voting record easily accessible online.
Cox pointed to her legal skills and experience talking with state representatives as a way to address larger-scale policies like the Affordable Healthcare Act and the Common Core standards on a county level. “It’s not just about landfills, it’s about local control,” she said.
At the end of the nearly two-hour debate, members of the organization met behind closed doors to officially endorse a candidate for the seat, ultimately going with Cox.
“She’s a home run,” said Paul Anderko, who organized the event.
The forum also featured councilman Joe Cox of District 3, who is seeking his fourth term.
Councilman Cox faces two challengers for his seat including Republican Robert Winkler of York. Winkler declined an invitation to attend the forum. Democrat Steve Love of York is the other challenger.