Strip-club manager seeks to unseat Pender in Ward 2 race

Rock Hill City Council

Rock Hill City Council opponents Kathy Pender and Rodney Deason will make their first and only joint appearance at a business forum this morning.

Deason is challenging Pender for the Ward 2 seat she has held since 2004. It's the only officially contested race in the Oct. 16 city election, and features a somewhat unusual backstory.

The contest pits Pender, a volunteer and former chairwoman of the Rock Hill school board, against Deason, the manager at Emerson's nightclub on Cherry Road.

Deason says his job at a strip joint shouldn't be an issue in the campaign. What matters, he argues, is that the city spends too much money in the wrong places. He cites the $12.7 million Manchester Meadows sports complex as an example.

"This is a blue-collar town," said Deason, 48, who has put out 20 campaign signs and plans to mail fliers to 4,500 voters next week. "It's not a white-collar town. We need some jobs to put the blue-collar workers back to work. Our manufacturing base is gone."

Pender, 53, joined the council after the Manchester vote, succeeding the late Maxine Gill. She argues the complex has been worth the investment.

"It brings people to town, and they spend money," she said. "And also, I think there's great value in it as a park for our citizens."

Unlike in the past, today's 10 a.m. meeting is not open to the public and is only for members of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Televised evening forums are typically held at the Baxter Hood Center, but with only one contested race, organizers figured interest would be too low to warrant an event this year.

In other races, Susie Hinton is running unopposed for the Ward 1 seat that belonged to the late Winston Searles. In Ward 3, only incumbent Kevin Sutton will appear on the ballot, though former NAACP President Vince Blackwell is running as a write-in candidate.