Union's next mayor should take a 50 percent cut in salary, Melvin Young Jr. says.
Young announced his candidacy Friday afternoon, calling for reduction in the mayor's salary from $103,000 a year to no more than $51,000 a year.
“I think a suitable salary to run the City of Union, in my opinion, would be anywhere between $50,000 and $51,000,” he said. “the other money that made up the former mayor's salary could be used elsewhere.”
Young said that while the mayor should be involved in the day-to-day operations of the city the next mayor should not wield the same amount of power as his predecessor. Instead, he favors setting up a system where the mayor remains involved in the day-to-day operations of city government with the assistance of a staff member serving as a liaison between mayor, council and the various departments of city government. The liaison would not have the powers of an administrator but would instead help preserve the institutional memory of the workings of city government even as mayors and council members come and go.
“At the end of the day the mayor is not a permanent position, he could run, he could be successful and he could not be re-elected,” he said. “We still need someone there after he's gone and council members come and go that still knows basically some of the ins and outs.”
The liaison is part of the change Young says he can offer the people of Union as mayor.
“What I'd like to offer the City of Union is fresh ideas, a new direction, a willingness to reach out to the community, to embrace their ideas and lets take those ideas, incorporate them into the city to try to bring our city to the forefront,” he said. “We have a lot of areas that needs to be improved, things that we need to address. I'm not saving we haven't (addressed them) but we're still behind other cities in my personal opinion.”
Areas where Young said Union still lags behind other cities include street and sidewalk improvements; dilapidated housing; and the lack of industry. He said he also feels the city is not doing enough to encourage local entrepreneurs and promote the growth of local business. While he favors attracting business and industry from outside the community, Young said he wants to make available funds and resources to local citizens interested in starting businesses in Union.
“I want us to attract from the outside into the city, but I want us to not forget that we have talented creative individuals right here in the city that we need to have funds available, put things in place to get those individuals to come out, to step out and attempt to open their own businesses,” he said. “We need that outside development, we do, there's no doubt about that in my mind, but we also can't forget we do have people right here that are as qualified as anybody else to have a business.”
A 1996 graduate of Union High School, Young has a degree in Systems Support Technology from Spartanburg Tech and in Web Development from York Tech. He is employed as the Educational Technology Coordinator with the College of Business Administration at Winthrop University.
Though he is the fourth candidate to announce for mayor, Young's name will not be on the November ballot. He will instead campaign as a write-in candidate. Mayor Bruce Morgan had been unopposed for re-election when he resigned so the ballot will be left blank as state law does not permit the filing period to be reopened.
Morgan resigned July 17, just hours before it was announced that he and building and zoning director Jeff Lawson had been indicted by a federal grant jury for conspiring to extort bribes and kickbacks from contractors seeking to do business with the city.