A night of firsts and lasts in Fort Mill saw new Mayor Guynn Savage succeed Danny Funderburk, who served in the post for the past eight years.
“The last eight years have been an absolute pleasure,” Funderburk said Monday.
Funderburk, who last year declined to run for a third consecutive term, said the public service he provided as mayor is, apart from faith and family, “probably the most important thing” he has accomplished. Though no longer a member of Fort Mill Town Council, he said he expects to remain active in town affairs.
“I see no reason that will not continue,” Funderburk said.
Council members praised Funderburk at its first meeting of the new year – his final one before handing Savage the gavel. Savage led the compliments line.
“He has served with time, talent and passion,” she said.
Reorganizing and growing what has become the South Carolina Strawberry Festival is a highlight for Funderburk, Savage said. So is work on the Fort Mill Hall of Fame to honor locals in a “wonderful and enduring way.”
Councilman James Shirey recalled a lunch invite from Funderburk shortly after Shirey won election. That discussion helped set a course for the new Council member.
“He said ‘make sure that you keep the town first,’” Shirey said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
Funderburk said in time, he came to see what roles the municipality should and shouldn’t have. Not every responsibility belongs to a town government, he said. But reliable water, trash pick-up, fire and police protection, recreation and other services are key to quality of life, he said.
“You recognize that your job is to provide basic services for the citizens of Fort Mill,” Funderburk said.
Focusing on service allowed him and others on Council, Funderburk said, to be about more than just winning elections.
“Politics play a very small role in what we do here,” he said.
They do, however, play a role in replacing him. Savage left an at-large Council seat vacant to become mayor. A special election will be held this spring. Councilman Tom Adams, who ran against Savage for mayor last fall, left his Council seat, which was filled Monday night by new Councilman Chris Moody. No one else had filed for that seat, so Moody won it unopposed.
Incumbent Council members Ronnie Helms and Lisa McCarley also ran unopposed last fall and were sworn in to new terms Monday night.
Adams said he will be away from Council service “for a brief time, at least.” Other members applauded his efforts to serve the town.
“It’s been a great privilege to serve,” Adams said.
Filing for the vacant seat has not yet opened, but longtime resident and former Fort Mill School Board member Trudie Heemsoth already announced her intention to run.
The new, temporarily shorthanded, Council vowed to continue trying to make Fort Mill the best town it can be for its residents. Something the new mayor says won’t change from the last.
“We are servants to you,” Savage said, “and we want to do a really good job.”