Of York County Council's five new faces, two were elected to lead the council.
At a special meeting Monday night at the McCelvey Center, the new York County Council members took oaths of office and voted unanimously to elect Rock Hill eye doctor Britt Blackwell as chairman and western York County Baptist chaplain Eric Winstead as vice chairman.
The two join newcomers David Bowman, Bruce Henderson and Bump Roddey, as well as returning members Chad Williams and Curwood Chappell, on the council.
Blackwell joined The Herald after Monday's ceremony to discuss the challenge's the new council faces.
Q: Are you and the other council members prepared for the job that lies ahead?
"Yes, we've been going to the county council meetings, seeing all the business and items they have to deal with and planning so we don't miss a beat," he said.
Blackwell said his experience working on the Rock Hill school board and the South Carolina Board of Education have prepared him for the leadership role, and he's looking forward to working with the new council.
"The chairmanship helps you learn how to be a leader, but it helps when you have everyone here for the right reasons. The mutual respect is already there" among the council members, he said, and he feels everyone can "contribute to a great cause."
Q: Some have said an anti-incumbent mood propelled many newcomers to victory in November's elections. With that in mind, what changes can York County residents expect to see from the new council?
"The reason for the anti-incumbent mentality is there wasn't enough of a conservative attitude. I think everyone who served on the previous council was well-respected, but for whatever the reasons, the voters decided that we need fresh new faces and a fresh new approach."
Protecting taxpayers' money was the council's greatest responsibility, he said.
Q: What are the greatest challenges facing the new council?
Water infrastructure, the budget, road maintenance, job creation, and resolving the museum issues, he said.
Q: So what's the first task the County Council should address?
"We need to finish dealing with the museum concerns. We don't want that to drag out. In the next three months we'd like to have that resolved. Having been to the last six months of council meetings, having people call, knowing the issues, over the next month or two we need to see what questions are left and come to a decision. Everybody's goal is to come up with a compromise."
Blackwell said he sensed in the outgoing County Council a unified opinion that the Culture and Heritage Museums lacked accountability. He said previous council members expressed concerns that "there was no accountability with how funds were spent" within the museums, "and a big concern with the museum being top-heavy with salaries and administrative costs," excluding the "worker bees," he said. "That (issue) has to be aired out with the new council."
Another issue of immediate concern is York County's growing water and sewer service needs, he said.
"The county needs to look at ways to provide water infrastructure at a more efficient cost and service to the citizens of York County and explore all the options. We need to have vision. We need to prepare, not react."