In the Republican primary for York County Council District 6, The Herald endorses Buddy Motz.
Motz is opposed by Rock Hill home builder and real estate developer Alex Haefele. With no Democrats running this year, Tuesday's GOP primary will determine the winner.
Motz, the incumbent and chairman of the council, has served for 10 years. He assumed the chairmanship at a time when the council's contentiousness threatened its ability to function effectively. We think Motz' leadership -- along with the hiring of Jim Baker as county manager -- helped reduce the rancor and encourage more cohesiveness on the council.
But with Haefele, this race has two strong candidates. Haefele, who has lived in Rock Hill since 1984, has been active on the periphery of local politics and an often outspoken critic of both the Rock Hill City Council and the County Council.
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Haefele appears to have done his homework on the shortfall in the "Pennies for Progress" road project budget. He said he personally visited the site of each project approved in the 2003 referendum and found little progress. He compiled an analysis of the projects, which he filed on his Web site.
He advocates hiring a qualified manager specifically to oversee these projects. He also thinks the county could enter into a partnership with the state Department of Transportation to do some of the work.
Haefele also faults the county for getting embroiled in the debate over an overlay district at the York County/Rock Hill Airport. Haefele opposes extension of the airport's runway and expansion of the overlay district.
Regarding the airport issue, Motz said the county would wait for the city to make the next move. Meanwhile, he helped engineer a 90-day moratorium on any action by the county to give time to allay concerns of nearby residents.
But we agree with him that the airport is a crucial component of local growth and that local governments need to do what is necessary to prevent new construction around the airport. He also has worked to make the process less intrusive for neighbors by eliminating local disclosure requirements, which, because they already are required by state law, are redundant.
Motz blames faulty management, including inadequate manpower allocations, for the delays and funding shortages on the "Pennies for Progress" projects. Rising fuel costs, the cost of right-of-way purchases and overall material costs have contributed as well.
But he thinks the decision by the county to take over management of the projects itself will be a significant improvement. He also is confident that projects approved in 1997 will be fully funded and that the county will find a way to complete all the 2003 projects before another "Pennies for Progress" referendum in 2010.
Motz, we believe, also is firmly committed to sensible growth as outlined in the county's long-term land-use plan. He hopes to work closely with the city of Rock Hill to ensure sound land management in his district and throughout the county.
He also believes the county needs to take a regional approach, working with Charlotte and surrounding cities to address issues such as water use and how that affects the Catawba River. Motz meets with a Charlotte regional planning group on a monthly basis.
In all, we think Motz has offered solid leadership on the council, an understanding of environmental issues, a commitment to orderly growth and to social justice, as evidenced by his strong support for a countywide Martin Luther King holiday. We think he deserves another term on the council.