In the Fort Mill Town Council Ward 1 race, the Fort Mill Times endorses James Shirey.
Initially, this was a three-person race, but Lizann Lutz, the first candidate to register for the election, withdrew in time to have her name removed from the ballot. Of the three, Lutz was the one with the most relevant experience. A resident of Fort Mill since 1981, she ran for council in 1987 and lost, but has been a fixture in town ever since.
Lutz’s departure leaves Shirey, 43, and Sean Jones, 27, a Louisiana transplant who settled in Fort Mill last May, as the contenders for the seat that became available when Nathan Blythe moved out of state. The winner of the Oct. 7 special election will inherit the two year’s left in Blythe’s term.
Although neither of the remaining candidates demonstrated the depth of knowledge about the town we like to see in a council member, Shirey nonetheless impressed us with his awareness of some of the town’s critical needs. A former builder who now works in real estate, he spoke at length about the importance of Fort Mill aggressively looking for partners to build up the town’s commercial tax base. We also like his vision for making Fort Mill more business and tourist friendly by making public Wi-Fi available downtown and elsewhere and creating what he called “a 21st century technology hub.”
Shirey, a resident for the past three years, is on the side of those Council members who wanted the town to build its own water plant, but were voted down last year. Shirey said he wants to address other infrastructure concerns and is concerned about the pace of growth.
Jones, a pharmacist, is a friendly and likable young family man who seems to have a genuine affection for his new town. We admire his enthusiasm and energy, but in our opinion, he just doesn’t know enough about Fort Mill to be an effective councilman.
In an almost unbelievable coincidence, he actually bought the home Blythe sold after he left town. It would have been neat to see the home’s new owner also move into Blythe’s council seat, but we think Jones needs more seasoning. We’d like to see him put his enthusiasm to use on a town committee or two and get a better understanding of the town’s history, nuances and issues before he runs again.
On Oct. 7, cast your vote for James Shirey for Fort Mill Town Council.