Cox, ‘committed to this community,’ seeks York County Council seat

Rock Hill lawyer Christi Cox said her experience dealing with complex local and state issues makes her the most qualified York County Council candidate to represent District 5 residents in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

“I’m committed to this community,” said Cox, a Rock Hill native. “There’s no magic button we can push to fix this,” she added, referring to issues the council has long battled when it comes increased growth and demand for services.

Cox, who faces fellow Republican candidate Marty Taylor on June 10, is a founding attorney of Hamilton Martens Ballou & Carroll – a firm that covers a wide range of legal issues and has represented the county on some cases. She was formally endorsed by 22-year county council incumbent Curwood Chappell in April.

Both Cox and Taylor agree the county needs to focus on providing more funding for much-needed road maintenance. The candidates support legislative efforts to create an additional tax stream strictly for maintenance. Cox also wants district voting precincts to take a larger role in ranking “Pennies for Progress” projects.

On a countywide level, Cox supports greater coordination among county staff and local municipalities in planning the county’s growth.

“It’s growing from the north down,” she said of the county’s continued boom. “We have got to work together.”

Cox said coordination will result in a unified vision for the long-term future and give the council guidance for rezoning requests and other planning needs.

She takes a similar approach to council disagreement on the hospitality tax, which has caused debate among members. But unlike Taylor, who wants funding to be more “equitable,” Cox cautioned against a district-specific approach.

“We’re in a mess because we didn’t very specifically say what to spend on,” Cox said of the tax, which is levied on businesses in unincorporated areas and funneled toward tourism-related costs. “People are so tired of them protecting their little nut,” she said.

She supports more mechanisms to gauge how the funds are being spent in terms of benefits to taxpayers and warns against “tunnel vision” for any one specific funding use.

Similar to her opponent, Cox is not against property tax increases if they are needed for essential services and vouches for greater transparency for taxpayers.

“We have to completely be above board, any additional money spent has to be scrutinized,” she said.

Like Taylor, she wants “non-essential” items to be thoroughly vetted to see if cuts are possible rather than increasing taxes.

The county’s difficulty in handling large, capital projects such as the historic courthouse in York is something Cox thinks could use additional management.

“The courthouse issue is glaring,” said Cox. “It seemed we didn’t have important players at the table.”

She warned that the “worst thing” the council can do is react quickly. Renovations at the courthouse, which began in 2008, face an unknown budget shortfall, after numerous delays.

“I’m used to dealing with hard questions and contentious situations,” said Cox, who has worked with Chappell in the past to block a construction waste landfill in Rock Hill. Cox noted she took the issue to court on her own without using any public funds, and appealed to legislators in Columbia to quash the project.

Early on in the campaign season, Cox took a stance on waste in the county – reflecting a stance taken by Chappell, who she has referred to as a close family friend.

Opponent Taylor was previously involved in unsuccessfully siting a construction landfill in the county, but has since sold the rights of the company to a separate waste management company embroiled in a costly county legal dispute.

When the issue was raised in an April debate, Cox pledged to continue fighting special interests looking to dump waste in the county.

“I’m a mouthpiece for the people,” said Cox, who also promises to bring “initiative” to council and use her skills as a lawyer to bring up deep-seated issues that continue to plague the county.