Politics & Government

York County Council: Choice for chairman debated

Based on their responses at a candidates forum Tuesday night, here's how the four York County Council candidates in the Nov. 7 election would vote for the coveted chairmanship: Two didn't commit, one said he'd support Councilman Buddy Motz and one brought laughter when he said he'd vote for himself.

"Working at York County for 18 years, I'm very familiar with the incumbents," said Mike Scott, a developer who is challenging incumbent Roy Blake for the District 4 council seat. Scott said good things about Motz and Councilman Rick Lee, both in attendance at the Baxter Hood Center audience.

"Mr. Chappell? I love Mr. Chappell, but I'm just not sure he can keep things in line," Scott said to laughter, while longtime councilman and county icon Curwood Chappell looked on two rows back. "I would probably have to vote Mike Scott."

The question came next to Blake, who smiled.

"I think I'm going to pass on that one," he said. The audience laughed again.

Sharon Mayor Joe Cox, who is running for the District 3 seat in western York County, said he would support Motz. Cox said he has watched Motz in action at the council meetings and felt he would be a good choice.

Marketing consultant Will Bigger, also running for the District 3 seat, said he would vote for a qualified, experienced candidate who was able to look at the county as a whole.

"I'm not committing to anyone at this point," Bigger said.

The chairmanship has been an issue since January 2005, when Councilman Steve McNeely won it away from Motz, who had been widely expected to take over the position.

The candidates also addressed the ongoing issue of user fees for the county's new 800 MHz radio system, how to deal with growth in the county and the push for a 2 percent hospitality tax in the unincorporated areas of the county.

Cox said he was a big fan of recreation and didn't feel the hospitality tax would be a burden on residents.

Bigger agreed, saying that tourism is the No. 1 industry in South Carolina and York County needed to join efforts to promote it.

All the candidates said the county's 2025 land use plan, designed to help manage growth in the area by designating certain areas for certain uses, needed to be revisited.

Scott, York County's former zoning administrator, said the plan was just a guide and planners and staff needed to remember that and be more flexible for small businesses.

Blake said the county might want to look into impact fees and that work needed to be done to the land-use plan.