John Gettys said he had been looking forward for a chance to lead Rock Hill for a long time.
And when the time came, he took the opportunity.
“I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time,” said Gettys, who officially opened his campaign for Rock Hill mayor Wednesday. “I feel I’m emotionally prepared all the way around to serve in this capacity.”
A second candidate in the race also surfaced Wednesday. Longtime Rock Hill landscape architect Duane Christopher says he’ll run for mayor on the tenets of growth, conservatism, opportunity, sustainability and affordability.
Gettys, 48, heaped praise on outgoing mayor and longtime colleague Doug Echols, who announced Tuesday that he would not run for re-election to a sixth term.
Echols’ term ends in January 2018, but the general election for the mayor’s post will be Oct. 17.
Echols was among those watching at Gettys’ law firm on East Main Street when Gettys laid out his plans to expand sports tourism, boost Rock Hill’s “vitality” and improve reading levels.
Gettys served on Rock Hill’s City Council for eight years under Echols’ leadership, and has put in years of work as the city’s Sports Commission chairman. Gettys said his experience in promoting local sports tourism has helped Rock Hill reach new heights. He believes more investment will sow greater rewards.
“We should continue what the city’s done for so long and replicate the success stories there into other markets,” Gettys said. “We have to bring young, talented, energetic people who want to be a part of the community like this. I think it’s a real good allure for the younger folks.”
The city estimates that sports tourism is responsible for a direct impact of around $21 million annually, including Rock Hill’s other venues, the Supercross track, the Velodrome, Cherry Park and Manchester Meadows.
The addition of a proposed indoor sports complex would likely attract an extra $14 milion a year in tourism dollars, Gettys said. He took a leadership role in attracting the upcoming 2017 BMX World Championships this summer to Rock Hill.
I’ve always wanted to be part of solutions to things. That’s my nature.
John Gettys, running for Rock Hill mayor this fall
Gettys said he hopes to bring the city’s residents together to solve problems together.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of solutions to things,” he said. “That’s my nature. I think the biggest effective change is made in the position of mayor.”
He also wants to improve local students’ reading levels. He says he wants to get students reading above their grade level by third grade by 2020.
That benchmark will help ensure a prepared and educated workforce, he said.
Gettys and his wife, Christi, have three sons. Gettys has practiced law for around 23 years, and works for the Morton & Gettys law firm on East Main Street near Fountain Park.
He served Ward 4 on Rock Hill’s City Council from 2002-2010.
Christopher to run on ‘conservatism’
Christopher has served on several Rock Hill and York County boards in the past three decades, including the city’s Planning Commission, the county’s Soil and Water Conservation committee, and Rock Hill’s subcommittee for the commission on future development and facilities for the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
His private practice, Duane F. Christopher & Associates, is on India Hook Road.
Christopher was born in Ithaca, N.Y., and moved to Rock Hill in 1979.
He helped design a master plan for the city’s greenways, and says he made a major contribution to remove the roof over East Main Street, returning it to a motor vehicle street.
He says he is active in the city’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan Update, looking at alternative methods to a regional approach to wastewater treatment.
Who else may be running for Rock Hill mayor?
▪ City Council member John Black said he does not wish to run
▪ City Council member Jim Reno said he has received several inquiries about the opportunity, and he is considering them
▪ City Council member Sandra Oborokumo said she does not wish to run
▪ City Council member Kathy Pender said she will not run
▪ City Council member Kevin Sutton said he does not wish to run
▪ York County Council member William “Bump” Roddey said he is putting together an exploratory committee, and should make a decision in the next week or two
▪ York County Council Chairman Britt Blackwell said he does not wish to run