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2 vie for York County Council seat

Of seven seats on the York County Council, six of them have only one candidate running in this November’s election. The exception is District 3, which is guaranteed to have a new face on the council whichever candidate comes out the winner.

Robert Winkler is hoping to win his first elected office after he defeated incumbent Councilman Joe Cox in the Republican primary. He faces Democrat Steve Love in the general election.

District 3 is geographically the largest of the council districts, covering the city of York and much of the rural, western side of the county, including Bullock Creek, Hickory Grove, Sharon and Smyrna.

Both candidates spoke this week with the Herald.

Steve Love

Age: 56

Occupation: Retired after 36 years at Resolute Forest Products in Catawba

Family: Wife, Lola; sons, Keon and Steven; daughter, Tiffney; and three grandchildren.

Background: Past president of the Western York County NAACP and the Optimist Club; served on the York school district School Improvement Committee; vice president of the York County Democratic Party. Former candidate for mayor of York and York City Council.

Residents in western York County often feel neglected compared to the more populous east side. What are the area’s biggest needs?

Road repair and maintenance is a big issue. What I’d like to do is redirect a percentage of the “Pennies for Progress” for road maintenance. The county can’t do that themselves, but we could have a referendum to do that without raising taxes. ... On the western side, we always have an issue with infrastructure, laying down piping and tubes without interfering with our wide-open spaces. We can do that with the Highway 5 corridor that’s close to I-85 and I-77. I’d like to see us do something on economic development with Cherokee County like we have the I-77 Alliance with Chester, Fairfield and Richland (counties), and then the two can share infrastructure. We can’t say, “Let’s wait for something to come and then we’ll get the infrastructure,” because we need economic infrastructure here now.

The county’s Hospitality Tax Committee is meeting to examine ways the tax on county businesses can be used to promote recreational activities. Do the unincorporated areas of the county need better recreational services?

I’ve heard some people talk about that, but I think it’s a bigger issue in Michael Johnson’s area (District 1) because they raise more because they have Carowinds. ... I’d like to see that money get bonded out. The county could loan that money out if Michael Johnson wants to put a park in his area for example, and then pay it off from the (revenue) from the park.

The York County Courthouse has been closed for more than a year, with the county spending $1.5 million on abatement work already and $11.2 million needed to finish the project. How would you like to see that project finished, and is there a limit on how much should be spent on it?

I do think it’s appropriate that it be finished. We’ve already appropriated $5 million for that project and they have done the abatement work to get rid of mold and mildew. Officially, they are $7 million short, but that figure’s a little escalated and it could be lowered. ... I think there will be money to do that through the general fund. There’s an economic impact to that development for downtown York, and on the character of the city, because that’s the heart and soul of York. There are other capital improvement budgets that we can use for different money for that, if we look at how some of those other projects are being funded, especially if there’s more we need to use on the western side of the county (rather than the east).

Contact information: 803-684-7124, 803-389-9907, www.MoveForwardDistrict3.com


Robert W. Winkler

Age: 49

Occupation: Financial adviser with Edward Jones in York; formerly a retail manager for Goody’s

Family: Wife, Gina; daughters, Antel Pope and Shannon Savee; son, Michael McFetridge; and 10 grandchildren.

Background: Past president of the York Rotary Club, chairman of PATH; board chairman of Release Time Bible Education at the York school district; board member of the Greater York Chamber of Commerce; York school district accreditation committee; and South Carolina advisory council for Thompson Family Services.

Residents in western York County often feel neglected compared to the more populous east side. What are the area’s biggest needs?

I think one of the biggest issues is economic development, especially in this part of the county. I work (as a financial adviser) with a lot of people who lose their jobs and need to do something with their 401(k)s. … We need to be doing more to bring those kinds of good-quality, living-wage jobs into the area. Eastern York County gets them by default, because that’s the I-77 corridor, but not all businesses looking at York County need to be within five minutes of I-77. We’re only 15 minutes away from I-85 or 77. We’re very centrally located. I’ve chaired the chamber’s economic development committee, and we have worked to identify 300 acres in the York vicinity, that is contiguous and zoned industrial. ... We’re trying to get ahead of the curve and have that land ready when the time comes.

Roads are always an issue, and the state doesn’t do their share in funding the roads. I would like for us to look at a portion of the 2017 “Pennies for Progress” when that comes back up to spend on road maintenance. That’s one of the best ways to do it, because citizens can see the improvements that have been done.

The county’s Hospitality Tax Committee is meeting to examine ways the tax on county businesses can be used to promote recreational activities. Do the unincorporated areas of the county need better recreational services?

The council’s done a good job putting that (committee) together, but it ultimately falls back to the council on how that’s spent... I’d love to see more (recreation), but the question is how do you pay for it? On the surface, the agri-tourism facility we’ve talked about in the past is a good idea, it could be a good draw for the western part of the county, but I would want to see plans on how it could become self-sufficient. I don’t want it to be something we continue to have to put money in.

The York County Courthouse has been closed down for more than a year, with the county spending $1.5 million on abatement work already and $11.2 million needed to finish the project. How would you like to see that project finished, and is there a limit on how much should be spent on it?

I’d like to see them keep the courthouse the courthouse, remodel it and use it. It’s not only a majestic old building, but those people are vital to downtown York’s economy. The numbers from what I’ve seen are not being looked at totally apples to apples. … We’ve still got about $4 million sitting there to be used. Since it’s been several years and things have gotten more expensive, we need about $7-8 million, but that includes $3.1 million for furnishings, computers, desks and all that stuff. Well, if takes $3.1 million to furnish a courthouse, it will take that $3.1 million whether we build a new courthouse or furnish the old courthouse, so that shouldn’t be in the discussion. … We could look for more state funding and grants, more national funding because it is a national historic building. There are other things we can look at for funding other than just the citizens of York County.

There’s always a limit to what you can spend on anything, I think. … If they came back and said it would cost $20 million, that’s something I couldn’t see. But I don’t know yet what that number will be.

Contact information: 803-230-7836, robertwwinkler@gmail.com

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