Local

York County has mayor and council races up for vote Tuesday. Here’s what to know.

Dozens of candidates will vie for mayoral and council positions across York County on Tuesday. Voting at 27 of almost 100 precincts countywide runs 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Voters can find their assigned precincts at scvotes.org.

Here’s a rundown on the decisions that will lead local municipalities into the coming years:

Fort Mill

The race to lead Fort Mill may have started at a gas station, but it’s only gotten bigger.

Incumbent Guynn Savage and challenger Bret McNabb face off for mayor. Savage runs on her record, on a platform of continuing momentum.

“Four years ago I ran for the position with the goals of improving relationships and processes,” she said. “I believe we have made significant progress and am grateful for the opportunity to serve my community and its people.”

McNabb, who along with other parents challenged a controversial decision to allow a gas station beside Doby’s Bridge Elementary School and who still has a legal appeal pending against the town board of zoning appeals, wants to offer Fort Mill a different way forward.

“Earlier this year, there were a series of issues that had the potential to impact my family and a number of my neighbors, so I decided to get involved and began attending town council meetings,” McNabb said. “I was disappointed with the way in which the town council handled these issues, and ultimately, the way many topics were addressed.”

Both candidates say the coming election is bigger than any one issue.

Savage said every election is important in defining what the town will become. McNabb said voters can choose between the current course and different approach.

Savage said Fort Mill has challenges common to other fast-growing areas — traffic, high home-to-business ratios — but that elected leaders and town staff are keeping pace.

“Fort Mill fortunately remains unique in its character, charm and sense of community,” Savage said.

The town added new leadership under her watch including a new town manager and assistant town manager. The town gained control of Elisha Park and the Fort Mill YMCA at the Complex through donations from private property owners. The town also gained land for a new fire station, ball fields, water tower and 60 acres that includes the birthplace of the town.

“Our downtown has become a true destination,” Savage said. “New businesses are thriving. Town events are well attended and enjoyed by our residents.”

The town also has several projects ongoing, from a large expansion of the wastewater plant to ironing out details on the recent purchase of town hall and police department expansion.

“I believe that we are transitioning in a positive direction and would like to see our council continue this work for another term,” Savage said.

McNabb points to several reasons voters should take a different route.

“I bring a different perspective to the table,” he said. “I have lived in a number of different places throughout my life, in both small towns and large cities, and I will be able to draw upon my experiences living in those places to help think through the challenges our growing community will undoubtedly face as time moves on.”

McNabb said historical context is important, but making decisions on history alone hinders progress. A corporate attorney, McNabb works to bring opposing parties together for creative solutions that benefit them both, he said.

“My educational and professional experience will provide a new dimension to our current town council,” he said.

McNabb would like to see more of a private sector mentality, a push to provide high-quality work under tight deadlines, to the often slow-paced government roles.

“As Fort Mill grows, we will only continue to face larger-scale issues, and I think my skill set will be complementary to the skills the other town council members offer,” he said.

Mayor isn’t the only race in Fort Mill.

Incumbent Lisa Cook faces challengers Mike Short and Rick Hayes for an at-large council seat. Incumbent Chris Moody and challenger Marc DeJesus contend for the Ward 4 seat. Incumbent Ronnie Helms runs unopposed in Ward 2.

With the at-large seat featuring three candidates, it’s possible there could be a runoff two weeks after election day. A candidate has to win a majority of votes in Fort Mill, so half or fewer votes for the top pick in that race would mean a runoff between the two candidates tallying the most votes.

Clover

Clover Mayor Greg Holmes is running unopposed Tuesday. However, the Town of Clover soon will have a new town council.

Nine candidates are vying to fill six town council seats.

Incumbents Chris Farris, Teresa Hurst and Wes Spurrier are running against newcomers Keon Barber, Raymond Bayly, Martha Bratton, Amy Nivens, Ashley Pannell and Scott Shuler, according to the York County elections office.

Incumbents Todd Blanton and Debbie Pee Wee Williams withdrew from the race, according to the elections office.

The Greater Clover Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum on Oct. 22 at the Clover school district office.

Managing growth, setting policy that improves the Town of Clover and being a voice for Clover residents are priorities for the candidates, according to their comments during the forum.

Clover Town Council members historically have served two-year terms. The council will go to a four-year staggered term when the new council takes office in January 2020, according to the town.

The Mayor will serve a four-year term along with the three council candidates who get the most votes Tuesday, according to the town. The other three council members will serve a two-year term.

Tega Cay

Five candidates are running for two city council seats.

Incumbents Gus Matchunis and Ryan Richard are running against newcomers Walt Krasinski, Carmen Wells and Tammy Lacher.

York County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum on Oct. 28. The five Tega Cay candidates spoke on their plans to address challenges facing the city.

Wells said she wants to improve the feeling of unity in the city. She said the new annexed parts of Tega Cay do not feel connected to the historical part of the city.

Both Lacher and Krasinski said they want to focus on the city’s finances.

Lacher, who has lived in Tega Cay for 14 years, said she wants to bring in growth that “blends in with (the) community and what (the) community is all about.”

Krasinski, who has lived in Tega Cay for 13 years, said he wants to work on putting more money in the city’s reserves.

Matchunis and Richard said they are concerned with balancing commercial and residential growth in the city.

Matchunis, who has been on council since 2015, said the current council has voted against multiple residential housing projects in recent years to control residential growth and he wants to bring in more commercial growth.

Richard, who has been on council since 2015, said he wants to maintain the small town feel of Tega Cay and continue to control residential growth.

York

Mayor Eddie Lee is running against fellow council member Mike Fuesser in York.

Fuesser, who was elected to the Dist. 4 seat in 2014, said he decided to run for mayor because he wants to leave the city better than he found it. He said he wants to improve the city’s infrastructure and update the parks.

“We have a downtown business district that is beautiful and used to thrive,” he said. “And we need to make it better and get it back to where people that are coming to visit this city want to come here and spend their time in downtown York.”

Lee won the mayor seat in 2002 and since has dealt with everything from drought to ice storms to his proudest achievement, saving the county courthouse in York.

“I like local government because it deals with the basics,” Lee said. “It deals with public safety and it deals with public works, recreation, economic development, fire suppression.”

Lee also serves as vice chairman of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, an organization responsible for many municipal grants in York and throughout the county. Experience and contacts, Lee said, serve the city well.

“The experiences I’ve had, we’ve met the challenges of local government,” he said.

Seats for Dist. 2, 3, and 4 are up. The District 3 city council seat has three candidates in Marvin Long, Ben Jones and Marion Ramsey.

The Dist. 3 seat is currently vacant as city council member Bill Miller passed away in September. Miller, who had a role on council off and on since 1976, was not running for reelection.

Stephanie Jarrett is running unopposed to take Fuesser’s former seat in Dist. 4, and incumbent Edward Brown is running again in Dist. 2.

Rock Hill

Rock Hill held its municipal election last month. 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 Herald previously reported.

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John Marks covers community growth, municipalities and general news mainly in the Fort Mill and York County areas. He began writing for the Herald and sister papers in 2005 and won dozens of South Carolina Press Association and other awards since.
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