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Primary race to feature York County Council incumbent against Democrat he unseated

Former York County Councilman Roy Blake is running to regain the seat he held for six years before William “Bump” Roddey defeated him in the 2010 elections.

Blake will face Roddey in June’s Democratic primary. Roddey is serving his first term representing the council’s District 4 seat representing southern Rock Hill. No Republicans have filed to run for the seat.

On Monday, Blake, 63, criticized Roddey, 38, for not doing enough for the older neighborhoods in Rock Hill, where potholes and poor storm water drainage are problems.

Instead of continuing Blake’s fight to rework “Pennies for Progress,” the county’s penny sales tax for road building, Roddey was its “poster child,” Blake said.

Blake criticized Pennies for not paying for storm water and safety improvements along the neighborhood streets.

“I most certainly did (support Pennies),” Roddey said. “If you want to call me the poster child, yeah, I guess I was.”

The county must take care of its own infrastructure needs because it can’t rely on the state and federal governments to do so, Roddey said.

Blake said when he was on the council, he helped bring sidewalks to Finley Road and along Heckle Boulevard near county office complexes, and helped find money for road improvements to provide “safe passage” for students walking to and from South Pointe High School.

Roddey said Blake is wrong to say he hasn’t focused on the Rock Hill neighborhoods. He’s appropriated money to pave several roads and provide other improvements, he said.

Blake also said Roddey showed “immaturity” when he walked out of a council meeting after a vote didn’t go his way.

Roddey led an effort to convince the council to award a few thousand dollars to A Place for Hope, a nonprofit serving the Blackmon Road community where residents living southeast of Rock Hill live without running water or sewer.

When the council refused, Roddey stormed out of the meeting.

That left District 4 without any representation for the rest of the meeting, Blake said.

“The six years (Blake) was on council, District 4 didn’t have any representation,” Roddey fired back Monday.

Roddey said his reaction “shed a light on the Blackmon Road situation and let the county know how (he) felt about it.”

Roddey felt the council’s refusal to support the nonprofit, when it was supporting several others, was unfair and disrespectful.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way,” he said.

Roddey said he has one question for his opponent: “If (Blake) loses again, is he going to ask for his money back like he did the last time he lost?”

In 2010 Blake asked the Democratic Party to return his filing fee, accusing the party of showing favoritism toward Roddey, who the party invited to speak at an event. Party leaders said Blake had a standing invitation to the function.

On Monday, Blake had the same perspective of what happened. Asking for his money back was a way to draw attention to the situation, he said.

Blake also criticized Roddey for publicly stating his support of York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, a Republican, after the accidental release of a convicted murderer from the county detention center last month.

Bryant attributed the mistake to human error and pledged to investigate the matter fully. Details on the investigation have not been released yet.

The inmate had been serving time in North Carolina for murder when he was brought to York County for a hearing on an outstanding drug charge. After the hearing, he was accidentally released. Authorities captured him four days later in Texas. Last week he was returned to a North Carolina prison, a York County Sheriff’s official said Monday.

Roddey and other York County officials expressed wide support for Bryant and the Sheriff’s Office in the days following the incident.

“I’m certainly not going to let one incident tarnish (Bryant’s) long-standing tenure,” Roddey said Monday. “He has an excellent staff. It was a mistake that happened, and they’re working to correct it so that a mistake like this never happens again.”

Bryant had no comment Monday regarding Blake’s criticism, adding that his office isn’t a “County Council issue.”

“I do appreciate Bump Roddey’s confidence in us,” he said.