On Tuesday, voters in Chester County will be asked to decide a very unusual election.
Up for grabs is the job of county supervisor, the top administrative job in Chester County government.
Longtime incumbent Carlisle Roddey, a Democrat, won a ninth term in November after defeating a surprisingly strong challenge from petition candidate Shane Stuart.
But the S.C. Election Commission threw out the result over voting irregularities at some precincts, and ordered the county to rerun the election.
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Next week, both candidates will compete again to run Chester County’s operations and set the tone for the county’s most visible job for the next four years.
Both men spoke to the Herald about three big issues they hope to tackle if they come out ahead.
R. Carlisle Roddey
• Age: 77
• Occupation: Roddey has served as Chester County supervisor since 1974, except for a break between 1998 to 2006. He previously managed Chester radio station WCMJ.
• Family: Married, two sons and two grandsons, ages 19 and 14.
• Background: Past president of the S.C. Association of Counties. Vice chairman of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments. Board member of the Red Cross and United Way. Deacon at Chester ARP Church.
• On economic development: “We’ve got to get jobs and continue to grow our economy. Our unemployment rate in the county has gone from 20 percent to now it’s under 7 percent. We just announced a new textile manufacturer... Imagine textiles coming back to Chester County... If I told you what other projects we have in the works, it would blow your mind.”
• On improving county finances: “We never have enough to operate, and the problem is the state Legislature has not fulfilled what they’re supposed to give to local governments. We’re short $7 million (in state funding)... Now they want to give the counties the roads, but they don’t want to give us the equipment or the money. The biggest obstacle the county faces is the Legislature and unfunded mandates.”
• On tackling the gang problem: “The gang task force ought to finish their work soon, and the county council and the task force are going to come together on something. They’re probably going to ask for more funding... but it’s not like Chester is overrun with gangs.”
K. Shane Stuart
Former deputy director of operations of a Defense Department program training members of the Afghan National Police. Chester County sheriff’s deputy. Air Force reservist.
Single, no children
Founder of the Eureka Community Revitalization Committee nonprofit
• On improving government accountability: “I’ve been a public servant, and I know it’s time we do better. I want to make the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) process simple instead of going through the county attorney and getting tied up for months on end... People get tired of the process. They bring their concerns to their elected officials, and feel like they fall on deaf ears.”
• On getting Chester County residents work-ready: “I want to promote the WorkKeys program, so all citizens know they can get free testing (to improve their job skills). With Giti Tire coming to Chester County, we need our workforce to be able to compete for those jobs... I want to hold town halls to let people know if you want to get hired and put your resume together, there is help.”
• On doing more with less: “I want to go through the county departments with a fine-tooth comb... I’d like to be able to know if the county bought brand new lawnmowers when we could get half price for used ones... We need to focus on government priorities, like public safety.”
Key dates, key number and key precincts
• Friday, March 6: Tuesday’s results will be certified by the county board of canvassers and sent to the S.C. Election Commission
• Monday, March 9: The earliest a new supervisor could be inaugurated
• Noon on Wednesday, March 11: The deadline for the loser of Tuesday’s vote to protest the result
• $81,370 – the annual salary of the Chester County Supervisor
• The precincts of Baldwin Mill, Baton Rouge, Chester Wards 1, 3 and 4, Eureka Mill, Halsellville, Hazelwood, Lowrys and Rodman: Where Stuart defeated Roddey in November.