Tega Cay’s three-way race for its top elected post offers a unique challenge to each contender.
Incumbent Mayor George Sheppard wants voters to look at his time in office and accomplishments, and to decide he’s the man to lead the city moving forward. Councilman Ron Kirby hopes voters will see his successes in the current administration, but also see how he’d lead in a new direction. Larry Pritchard wants voters who favor a fresh face and fresh ideas for the city.
As of Monday, all three men were online in hopes of spreading their messages. Sheppard, at george4mayor.com, has letters, blog posts and biographic information along with past accomplishments. The site links to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.
Kirby is taking his candidacy online with information on him, but also a survey and “virtual suggestion box” at vote4ronkirby.com. The anonymous survey will be up through Oct. 15. Results and responses will be posted by Oct. 20.
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“As a council member and a candidate, I know how important it is to listen to the concerns of residents and address the issues that affect their day-to-day lives,” Kirby said. “The challenge has been finding a forum that fits into the busy schedules of our residents.”
Pritchard set up elect-larry-mayor.com, and both Facebook and LinkedIn sites. He’s leaning on experiences in the military and corporate world, the latter managing budgets exceeding $36 million.
“I began my professional career in the United States Army, where I honed my skills to lead soldiers into harm’s way,” Pritchard said. “It taught me to be strategic, solicit and listen to others and never become complacent.”
While Sheppard has his past term and accomplishments to run on, a common question to the two challengers is what they’d do differently, or what about current leadership needs changing. Kirby said his most common question from residents in recent weeks – why he’s running against Sheppard – isn’t the right one.
“This is not me running against them,” Kirby said of his fellow candidates. “This is me running for the seat that I’m suited for to take this city to the next level.”
Kirby believes he’s set apart from the other candidates because of his ability both to represent all residents and negotiate with elected officials, businesses and other community interests. He wants more communication, more volunteerism and annexation of existing commercial properties.
Pritchard wants to enforce fiscal discipline and financial transparency. He wants to resolve water and sewer problems with Tega Cay Water Service, reinstate volunteer committees that were disbanded and bring Catawba Park to life. Strategic annexation is another area he sees that can be improved.
“I believe in action through leadership and what I observed was leadership inertia,” Pritchard said of why he’s running. “After being asked to consider running for mayor, I reviewed several key initiatives that have not been resolved or give cause for concern.”
Sheppard cites several accomplishments of his time in office, including an improved city bond rating, an increase in city reserves from $17,000 to more than $2 million and the purchase of a new City Hall building, among others.
“The city is in a good financial position,” he said. “I’d like to continue that.”
A better financial outlook now has the city in better position to tackle issues like Catawba Park, Sheppard said, than it did four years ago. He sees an advantage in coming into this election as the seat-holder, but only if voters approve of the job he’s done so far.
“An incumbent that is doing a good job always has an advantage,” Sheppard said.