In the race for the District 7 seat on the York County Council, we endorse incumbent Rick Lee.
Lee, a Republican, has served on the County Council for eight years. This is the first time since he was elected in 2000 that he has faced opposition. Chad Williams, a Democrat and lifelong York County resident, hopes to unseat Lee this year.
Lee, a management consultant for large businesses and federal agencies, says District 7 is unique in the county because it consists entirely of the city of Rock Hill. Much of what Lee has accomplished during his tenure has involved the city.
He was, for example, actively involved in negotiations with the city to designate the Textile Corridor in downtown Rock Hill as a tax increment district. That was a crucial element of the city's plan to spark development of the Corridor.
Lee played the lead role in the county's decision to buy a site in downtown Rock Hill for a future main branch library. He also helped persuade the county to buy the former Rock Hill National Bank building on Black Street to serve as the county's Emergency Operations Center.
He arranged for cities outside Rock Hill to contribute to Rock Hill's recreation fund. Consequently, county residents now can use recreational facilities in the city without paying a fee.
Lee has been an outspoken opponent of the plan by North Carolina to transfer water from the Catawba River basin to the N.C. cities of Kannapolis and Concord. He has met weekly with the office of S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster to monitor the case involving the transfer, which ultimately could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lee is an avid bicyclist and rode his bike to visit thousands of voters in the district during this campaign. He also has championed construction of a series of bike paths in Rock Hill. He hopes paths eventually will link downtown Rock Hill to Manchester Village and other areas near the Catawba River.
He says many of the unfinished "Pennies for Progress" projects can be paid for out of the county's cash reserves. The county, he said, is on sound financial footing without having raised taxes in recent years.
He believes that the 2010 "Pennies" referendum must pass and that it might contain projects other than roads, perhaps including a new downtown library. The needs, however, would have to mesh with the county's long-term land-use plan.
Williams, Lee's opponent, also is an impressive candidate. He has served on the Rock Hill Planning Commission for the past 10 years and says a seat on the County Council would be a logical progression.
The landscape contractor says discord on the County Council has affected its efficiency. He accuses councilmen of putting on a harmonious face for voters during the campaign.
Williams also said the county should have sought more public input regarding the $45 million bond proposal that was soundly rejected by voters.
Williams has the credentials and familiarity with the district to be a good councilman. But he is opposing Lee, who is, by our estimation, the most productive, informed and industrious member of the council.
We hope voters will return him to office on Tuesday.
District 7 incumbent Rick Lee has shown himself to be an effective county councilman.