Greenville mayor candidates talk issues
Two people are vying for Greenville mayor – incumbent Dexter McLendon and Kenneth Crum, and Greenville voters will go to the polls next week to decide who gets to spend the next four years leading the city.
The Greenville Advocate sat down with both candidates to discuss a series of questions about issues concerning the next four years in the Camellia City.
Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
Crum said he’s talked to small business owners and they are dissatisfied because there is not a lot of traffic downtown, which means there’s not a lot of cash flow for those businesses. Crum said the city will need to do something to make downtown more attractive for people to come there and spend money.
McLendon said he thinks downtown has come a long way in the two decades he’s spent as mayor, but there is still work to be done. He said there needs to be more development downtown and that he would like to see some of the open lots downtown turned into a veterans park. McLendon said some of the work to develop downtown got sidetracked when the city shifted its focus to save the hospital.
What’s the one major issue you plan to address this upcoming term?
McLendon said he thinks it’s important that the city works with the school system. He acknowledged that current superintendent Joe Eiland is doing a fantastic job, but he wants the city to see what it can do to help make a better school system for the local children.
Crum said that as he’s been campaigning one of the major things he’s heard is that there is nothing for the youth of Greenville to do. He said that he will address it head on. He spoke about programs such as a career academy and the importance of extracurriculars and bringing entertainment businesses such as a skating rink and bowling alley. Crum also said he would like to talk to the youth about what they would like to see.
How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town?
Crum said he plans to bring representative government to the forefront. He said that he will implement town hall meeting to find out what needs to be addressed and what concerns the citizens have. He said that taxpayers need to have a government that cares.
McLendon said that his door is always open and citizens can talk to him and his administration about ideas. He said the Chamber of Commerce and the economic development board play a vital role in helping as well. McLendon said that he grew up and has lived in Greenville for 62 years and knows everyone and he wants the residents of Greenville to talk to him.
What’s the most pressing need as far as the city’s infrastructure in your opinion and how do you plan to address it?
McLendon said that one of his goals for the next four years is to develop the west side of town, specifically creating a road that connects both Greenville exits, which he believes will bring more companies to the area. He said it’s going to take a lot of grant money for that to come to fruition, but he and other leaders in the community have built solid relationships with the governor’s office and state representatives.
Crum said that one of the major needs is the streets and roads need repair and that there is a need for public transportation. Crum said that the city and the county commission would have to work together to implement a plan for public transportation but that it would help businesses, help people get to work and help the elderly.
Transparency in government is vital. How do you plan to be transparent with your constituents?
Crum said that being transparent is two-fold in that there must be a government that wants to be transparent and constituents who want to be involved in their government. He said that he wants citizens to be involved intimately in city government.
McLendon said that in addition to the council meeting and having an open-door policy, he does a radio show the morning after every council meeting to inform the public about what happened at the meeting.
What are your thoughts on the current level of city sales taxes? Do you think they are too low, about right or too high?
McLendon said he believes the half-cent sales tax the city passed to save the hospital was good use of taxpayer money. He said that another time the city increased taxes was to help create jobs back in 2003, when Hwashin located to Greenville. He said that sales taxes at 10 percent with state, county and city taxes are high enough. McLendon said that under his leadership they city had tried to use the money wisely and invest in things that will give money back to the city. In the last 20 years, sales tax revenue has increased from $3.8 million to $7 million.
Crum said he thinks sales taxes are a little higher than some of the other cities around; however, taxes and services go hand-in-hand. He said that taxes and services should coincide, and that’s something his administration would have to look at because taxes are needed to run the city.
The municipal election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 25. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.