UNION COUNTY — Why are the candidates for the Democratic Party’s nominations for three seats on Union County Council running and what qualifies them to serve on county council?
That was the first question asked of the six candidates who took part in the debate sponsored by the Union County Democratic Party in the USC Union Auditorium Thursday evening. The candidates participating in the debate were District 2 candidates Ralph Tucker (incumbent), John Glenn, and James R. Rice; District 3 candidates Tommy Ford (incumbent) and Howard “Wahoo” Gibson; and District 5 candidate Tommie L. Hill. The seventh candidate, District 5 incumbent Randall “Chump” Hanvey, did not participate in the debate.
All six of the participating candidates were first asked “Why are you running for election or re-election and what qualifies you for the position?
In his response, Tucker pointed to the knowledge and experience he’s gained of council and county government, both before and since his election to the District 2 seat.
“I was already attending council meetings before I ran for council and since I’ve been on council I’ve learned a lot from attending council meetings and from attending meetings in Columbia with representatives of all 46 counties,” Tucker said. “I am using what I’ve learned to benefit the people of Union County because I try to do the right thing by the people of this community.”
In his response, Glenn cited his background as a member of the Carlisle Town Council and as chief of the Carlisle Fire Department.
“I’m running for election to make a difference in Union County, I am running to be a watchdog for the people,” Glenn said. “I have experience as a member of the Carlisle Town Council and also being a fire chief and working with a budget.
“What I’d like to do is I can’t promise anybody anything, but I promise to work hard for the people of Union County,” he said. “I have a lot of experience working with people of all ethnic backgrounds. I just want to serve Union County. I’ve lived here all my life and I want to make sure all our kids including my kids have a great future here.”
Glenn added that he would “like to build a relationship with the people based on trust and respect and build a reputation in the community based on quality and integrity. I’d like to maintain integrity and excellence in treatment and service.”
In his response, Rice said that he felt his years of experience working for the federal government could be used to help address the problems facing Union County.
“I have 34 1/2 years service with the federal government in Washington, DC, and I personally feel some of my experience there can help here in Union County, Rice said. “There has been some bad decision-making and I’m not pointing my finger at no particular individual but our city and county are in bad shape as a whole. I believe that some of my ideas can help turn this situation around.”
In his response, Ford, who is seeking his fourth term on council, pointed to the experience and understanding of county government and the issues facing the county he has gained during his 12 years of service on council. He said this will enable him to immediately start addressing those problems if he’s reelected.
“I’m running for reelection because I feel we need experience on county council,” Ford said. “There are things happening now that require someone with experience on council. I’m in my twelfth year on council and we need someone who can act immediately instead of someone new.”
In his response, Gibson cited his background as a businessman who is invested in Union County and its future and understands what it needs to successfully move into that future.
“I’m a businessman and I know what Union County needs, I know what we need to move forward,” Gibson said. “The first thing we need is one form of government. We have five forms of government for 26,000 people, we have more government than we have people.”
Gibson expressed criticism of the current council who he said is not invested in the county the way he is and has done practically nothing to improve conditions in the community.
“I’ve invested my money in Union County so I have confidence in Union County,” Gibson said. “They’ve invested nothing here except in the homes they live in.
“We are declining in population every year and we are adding taxes and fees,” he said. “The current council has done nothing except draw a paycheck with state benefits and health care.”
Gibson said that if elected the first thing he would do is make a motion to cut the salaries of the members of council in half and then work to get the county’s employees their first raise in seven years.
“They have not had one since 2009,” Gibson said. “It is embarrassing to read that some of them could possibly qualify for food stamps.”
In his response, Hill said he wants to be a voice for the people District 5 and the rest of Union County and help bring about needed changes.
“I’m running for the position because I see we need changes in the community,” Hill said. “I want to be the voice and representative for not only the people of District 5 but for the whole county. If I’m elected I will be there for the community twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.”
If elected, Hill said he would bring the experience he gained from serving two terms on Union City Council to the District 5 seat. He said he wants to be bring new ideas to county government to address the challenges facing Union County including the need for more business growth and the revenues it can generate for the county.
While he is a strong supporter and in a number of cases customer of the county’s traditional local businesses, Hill said that he would work to bring new business development including new restaurants into the community. He said that his goal in growing the county’s retail and service sectors is to encourage residents to spend their money locally and to attract visitors to the community who will spend their money here. In addition to creating jobs, investments, and economic opportunity, Hill said the growth of its retail and service sectors will also generate more revenue for county government allowing it to better address the needs of the people of Union County.
For more about Thursday’s debate and the answers of the candidates to the questions asked see Wednesday’s edition of The Union Times and online at www.uniondailytimes.com.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.