In the Rock Hill City Council race for Ward 2, The Herald endorses Kathy Pender.
Pender is the incumbent running for a second term in the only contested council race on the ballot this year. Her opponent is Rodney Deason, manager of Emersons Club on Cherry Road.
Pender's long-time public service and her knowledge of community issues and local government make her the easy choice in this race. She first was elected to public office as a member of the Rock Hill school board in 1990, a post she held for 14 years, and served as chairperson during her final six years on the board.
She was elected to the City Council in 2003. We think she has shown good judgment, a willingness to do the homework necessary to stay well informed and an ongoing devotion to the welfare of the community she serves.
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Pender cites growth -- a challenge she also confronted as a school board member -- as the biggest overall issue facing the city. She believes growth, if properly managed, presents a wide range of new opportunities, particularly for downtown Rock Hill and the Textile Corridor. She believes, however, that while the city can provide some incentives and support to developers, ultimately private interests will drive growth.
She believes that city investment in streetscapes on Cherry Road and Saluda Street will enhance opportunities for future investment and commercial growth on both those central arteries. She also thinks the city should sponsor regular round-table discussions with business owners on Cherry Road to encourage an exchange of ideas.
Pender worries that, with the rising demand for trained police officers, ensuring that the Rock Hill Police Department is fully staffed with qualified officers will be an ongoing challenge. She is pleased that the city has hired a crime analyst who will collect data to help the department structure its force to best respond to needs in high- crime areas.
Pender said she believes good communication is essential to good government, but conceded that city officials and the council failed on some occasions to fully apprise the public about pending city business. She said the recent jaywalking ordinance and the landfill dispute were two instances in which the city could have been more transparent in its actions.
Pender applauds city investment that spawns economic development, citing the Manchester Meadows Soccer Complex as a good example. She said the complex has had an economic impact of more than $1 million -- counting hotel stays, restaurant sales and other spending by visitors drawn here by soccer events -- during the first nine months of the year. And the more active fall tournament season is coming up.
Deason, her opponent, thinks Manchester Meadows was a mistake. He portrays himself as the champion of the little man and the blue-collar workers in the city, and believes the city should cut fat from its budget and redirect money to encourage new job-producing industry to locate here.
Deason, who is running for office for the first time, is a lifelong resident of Rock Hill, who worked 10 years at the Celanese plant and 10 years for General Tire. He also is a licensed building contractor.
Deason seems sincere in his desire to serve. He said that while he may be less polished than Pender, he is no less passionate about the community.
But Pender's experience and a better understanding of how city government functions makes her the preferred candidate in this race.
Incumbent Kathy Pender's experience and good judgment make her the top choice in this race.
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