Lake Greenwood is one of the county’s most vital natural resources, and thousands of people inhabit its shores.
On Tuesday, the six candidates vying to represent Lake District 5 of Greenwood County Council shared their positions on issues related to lake life.
Connect Lake Greenwood, a non-profit organization under the Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce involved in the development and defense of the lakes, hosted a candidates’ forum at the Siloam Baptist Church on Tuesday. Dozens of residents of District 5, which has more than 7,000 registered voters, came to hear the candidates’ programs.
“The lake’s problems are close to my heart,” said Tom Melson.
Melson, 57, was born in Georgia but has lived in Greenwood for about 19 years. He said that public transport and access to the lake are essential, as is ensuring a high quality of life for the residents of District 5.
Ron Davenport, 68, recently retired from the Savannah River site and had a three-decade career in local law enforcement. He said he wanted to give back to his community now that he is retired and that he would like to sit on the county council to do business in the lake area.
“Throughout my life, I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” he says. “I have dedicated my life to a career in law enforcement in Greenwood.”
A native of Ninety Six and a former city clerk-treasurer, Goodman said she had also worked as a financial advisor for patients at the Abbeville area medical center and is currently working on staff at the cafeteria in Ninety Six Primary School.
“Don’t be fooled by my age, being a woman and my gray hair, I can get by with these guys,” she said.
Dayne Pruitt, 56, served four separate terms over three decades as a member of the Ninety-Six School Board.
“I view the lake as a valuable asset to Greenwood County and our greatest natural resource,” he said.
Living on Lake Greenwood for over two decades, Jim Medford, 65, owns The Links in Stoney Point alongside his wife, Denise. He said he worked with the Greenwood Workforce Development Task Force and was involved in Connect Lake Greenwood and the survey being done to develop the Greenwood Lake Master Plan.
“It’s important to have a representative who understands what needs to be done,” he said.
On the last chair on stage Tuesday, Sloan Griffin Jr., 59, was born in Orangeburg but moved to Greenwood when he was 4. He owns and operates the Ideal Shoe Shop on Pressley Street. He said he would like attention to be paid to the lake’s recreational options while focusing on preserving water quality.
“I learned to swim at Greenwood Lake,” he says. “Ideas around Lake Greenwood is a beautiful place.
Candidates were asked a mix of questions submitted by CLG members, and then the questions were chosen from a hat. They were first asked about the synergies and challenges between the lake’s development efforts and the new economic development initiative Greenwood Together.
Melson wanted to see improved roads and lake access, and said cooperation is essential to any project. Davenport has said he doesn’t know Greenwood Together, but what he doesn’t know he will learn.
Goodman wants all residents and areas in District 5 to be treated equally, and said working together for the benefit of each neighborhood is key to growth. For Pruitt, improving transport and roads is key to development on the lake, and he welcomes the cooperation with Greenwood Together’s corporate recruiting efforts.
Medford identified Greenwood Together as a collaboration between the county, city, chamber of commerce and other economic development partners, and said CLG is already working under the leadership of the chamber. The lake could prove to be a valuable resource in attracting industry.
“I personally believe that CLG should be its own entity under Greenwood Together,” he said. “The lake is one of the greatest marketing assets we have.”
Griffin said he wanted to see housing built along the lake, both middle-class and affordable residences. The lake has its own community needs, but he said all parts of the county must come together for Greenwood to thrive.
On the question of a public beach, the candidates were for the most part cautiously in favor. Davenport, Pruitt and Melson enthusiastically supported the idea, which offers a recreational alternative for families and children. Goodman and Medford both paused, saying they would like more information from residents near where any proposed beach would go. Griffin said working with Lake Greenwood State Park to develop a beach space could prevent any intrusion on area residents.
Each candidate has supported the expansion of fiber optic and broadband Internet services, particularly in underserved areas. Pruitt shared his perspective after working in telecommunications for almost 30 years, Sloan worked with fiber optics when he served in the military, and Melson also had almost 30 years of IT experience. .
By sharing their 10-year visions for Lake Greenwood, the contestants shared different paths to the lake’s future.
Pruitt said he wanted to keep track of the sales tax on 2007 investment projects and the developments that followed. Its vision includes increasing public access points to water and stimulating public participation in lake issues.
Medford said keeping Greenwood’s water quality high will be a challenge that will require dredging parts of the lake and working with partners upstate to tackle the Lake Conestee dam in Greenville, which retains toxic sediment that could flow into Greenwood Lake if the dam fails.
Griffin did not talk about a 10-year plan, but instead said he heard concerns from residents about the county’s transparency over the sales tax on 2016 capital projects, and that he wanted to share more details with the public. Melson said public beaches and recreation areas are key to bringing more families to the lake, and the Army Corps of Engineers could help with the Lake Conestee dam.
Davenport said any expansion to the lake must be funded in a way that does not increase the value of property taxes for residents. Goodman said she did not have a 10-year plan for the lake. She said her personal desires for the lake mattered less than voters in District 5.
“I don’t live by the lake. It’s up to the people who live there, ”she said. “What do you want?”
Regarding the expansion of sewer services around the lake, every candidate has said they will support the expansion of sewer infrastructure, with the exception of Griffin, who said the existing infrastructure is sufficient. . Medford said officials from the Metropolitan District of Greenwood said they lacked the resources to expand services there, but he said federal and state infrastructure funds could be used if the county had plans for it. square.
“We have to have projects ready to go to get this money,” he said.
Each candidate recognized the challenges and benefits of further development along the Highway 246 corridor, and many identified a need to extend the highway – a business that sales tax on capital projects is on. the point of financing.
Davenport, Griffin and Melson are running as Democrats, while Goodman, Medford and Pruitt are running as Republicans. The primary election will take place on October 26, with a second round scheduled for November 9 if necessary. The special election is December 28.
Contact editor-in-chief Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow us on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.