‘Growth is no surprise’: Newly elected Rock Hill council excited for future of city

In January, Ward 1, which includes parts of the Knowledge Park area and much of the Main Street corridor, will have a new voice speaking for them on city council.

Rock Hill held its 2019 municipal election Tuesday. Newcomer Derrick Lindsay won in Ward 1. Incumbents Kathy Pender and Kevin Sutton respectively won Ward 2 and 3 city council seats.

Along with Lindsay, Pender and Sutton, the council includes John Black, who represents Ward 4; Nikita Jackson, who represents Ward 5; Jim Reno, who represents Ward 6; and Mayor John Gettys.

The newly-elected councily members will take office at the first 2020 council meeting on Jan. 13, city spokesperson Katie Quinn said.

Lindsay will succeed councilwoman Sandra Oborokumo, who did not run for re-election. She was elected to council in 2012.

In Ward 1, there were 396 votes cast. Lindsay got about 67% of the votes. Newcomer Antonio Mickel got about 32%.

Lindsay, who celebrated election night at the Blu J Agency on Saluda Street, said he thought the election was close and is honored to represent the people of Ward 1.

“I looked at all the people in the room that supported me and I was just being very appreciative,” he said. “And telling them, ‘Thank you,’ because I wasn’t paying them. They were doing it because they wanted to help.”

Lindsay said he’s been learning from Oborokumo since he announced his candidacy a few months ago. He said he’s already started working to improve economic development and community safety in the area, and during his time in office, he wants to hear from the people of the ward before he votes on major decisions.

“I don’t want to wait to January to start,” he said. “I want to get involved now and work with as many people as possible and introduce myself to as many people as possible, so I can start learning now.”

Lindsay said he spoke with Mickel on election night and he plans to work with Mickel throughout his time on council.

“It’s not a somebody won and somebody lost-type situation,” Lindsay said. “And as I spoke early, I said that the city of Rocky Hill will be in great hands with either person. I really meant that because I’m going to work with him as close as possible.”

Pender, who has been on city council since 2004, ran against newcomer Keith Dyer.

In Ward 2, there were 407 votes cast, plus one write-in. Pender, who celebrated election night at the Rock Hill Brewing Company, received about 87% of the vote.

She said she’s honored to continue representing the people of Rock Hill and excited for the city’s growth.

“Growth is no surprise to us,” she said. “We know it is here. We’ve had it. We continue to have it, but I’d like to try to handle that growth in a way that maximizes opportunity for the most people and keep Rock Hill a livable community.”

Pender said she’s grateful for the people who supported her throughout the election and said she encourages people to remain engaged in the city.

“I really had some just outstanding support,” she said. “And I sensed a real enthusiasm that people had for the campaign and for the things going on in Rock Hill.”

Kevin Sutton ran unopposed for Ward 3. He’s been on city council for more than 20 years and said he enjoys representing the people of the ward.

“I represent a great group of people,” Sutton said. “The neighborhoods I represent are excellent to work with. They’re very good people and it’s enjoyable when you have such nice people to work with and work for.”

Sutton, who spent election night picking up campaign yard signs, said when he started on city council in 1994, a major city project involved removing the roof off Main Street. He said it’s exciting to see the city’s growth from projects, such as Knowledge Park and the Sports and Event Center.

“Some of the hard work we’ve done over the years and laying foundations, those decisions are coming to fruition, like the Panthers coming to the area,” he said. “So many things are about to explode that are going to be excellent for the people of Rock Hill.”

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