UNION — Union City Council District 4 candidate Kevin Montgomery says that transparency in government and support for small business will be among his goals if he’s elected to council.
Montgomery, a retired S.C. Highway patrolman and former Union Public Safety officer, said he has always been interested in local government but was unable to pursue that interest in the past due to the demands of his law enforcement career. Now that he’s retired, Montgomery said he feels he has the time to devote himself to being a member of council.
“I’ve always had an interest in local government, but I felt like my career at the time didn’t permit involvement given the time I was working and rotating shifts,” Montgomery said. “Now that I’m retired, I feel like I’ve got the time to really put in the effort to get involved in local government.”
As a member of council, Montgomery said he would push for the implementation of policies and practices that would promote greater transparency in municipal government.
“One of my main priorities is I want Union to have the kind of government — and I know it sounds cliché — that’s transparent,” Montgomery said. “I think the residents of the city and the county should have advance knowledge of how their money is going to be spent, where it will be spent and with who it is going to be spent.”
Montgomery said one way of achieving this transparency is for council members to take the information they receive about an upcoming meeting and meet with the public to discuss it.
“When I worked for the city, they gave out council packets weeks in advance of the meeting,” Montgomery said. “I’d open them up to the people. I’d put something in the paper inviting the people in my district to meet me at some place like, say, Bojangles, and meet with me and go over the council packet and talk with me about those issues. Through these meetings I’d get input from the public about what’s being done and how it should be done before going into vote to make sure my votes represent the wishes of my constituents.”
For further transparency, Montgomery said he would like the city to make better use of Channel 14 and the Internet in keeping the public informed of the issues and how the city proposes to address them. Montgomery said he would like the city to videotape council meetings for broadcast on Channel 14. He said that information published online about the meetings should go into greater detail than is currently being done.
Montgomery said he also wants to see the city do more to help its utility customers save energy and lower their costs. He said he would like to see the city broadcast energy saving tips on Channel 14 and print them on utility bills.
“I don’t think the city puts much effort into this, but it could and at little cost,” Montgomery said. “They could print energy saving tips on the power bill each month, things like how cutting off lights when you’re not using them can help customers save money.”
Montgomery said he also wants the city to look into the possibility of implementing a curbside recycling program. He said he’s seen other communities where the city or town has provided customers with bins for recyclable materials enabling them to be kept separate from household waste.
“This would not only be good for the environment, it could also be a source of revenue for the city,” Montgomery said. “The city could generate revenue from recycling things like aluminum cans.”
Montgomery said he also wants to see the city do more to encourage and support small business which he said is as important as the large industries the county has attracted in recent years.
“There’s been a lot done to attract industries like Gestamp and Gonvauto that employ lots of people and that’s fine,” Montgomery said. “We should not ignore small businesses because while a small business may only generate one or two new jobs, those jobs are just as important as the jobs created by large industries. Jobs help people stay in Union rather than leave to find work elsewhere and the more small businesses there are the more jobs there are and the more people who are able to stay here. The city should do everything it can to help small businesses create new jobs and to maintain the ones we’ve already got.”
A Union native, Montgomery is a graduate of Union High School and holds an associate’s degree in science from USC Union. He and his wife, Kelly, have one child, Christopher Mason, and the family attends Duncan Acres United Methodist Church.
Montgomery is facing incumbent Ricky Todd Harris for the District 4 seat.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.