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Changing County Council Terms of Office: A Benefit in Our Economic Development

Guest Article by Dean Campbell, Edgefield County Council Chairman
web posted October 29, 2018

EDGEFIELD - Last week, we discussed that the Edgefield County Council has decided to give voters the opportunity to change the terms of County Council seats from 2-year terms to 4-year, staggered terms. It will be on the ballot in next month’s General Election.

As a reminder, currently, all 5 Edgefield County Council seats are 2-year terms. This proposal would change that to, not just to 4-year terms, but stagger the terms so that every 2 years three seats are up for election and 2 years later the other 2 seats are up for election. The way we currently operate is that all 5 Council members are up for election every two years, a recipe for ineffective government at best.

Having 4-year, staggered terms adds a key component to the County: Stability. Right now, you have a chance to have a complete turnover after an election, not just in the Council, but in County Senior Staff, much of which County Council has to approve. If that happens, we create new problems for ourselves because nobody will know how County Government operates and maintains no institutional memory.

Is that worth being one of only two counties in South Carolina with 2-year County Council terms of office?

In addition, when business and industry think about coming to our County, one of the items they look at is our local governments and assess if we are doing a good job. If we leave 2-year terms in place, we are adding one more stumbling block to our County’s pursuit of jobs. Business and industry want to know you have a stable County government because we are who they deal with.

Many of us on the local level see that impact. And our local elected officials and others have taken a stand on changing this unnecessary hurdle.

The 4-year, staggered terms proposal for County Council has been formally supported and endorsed by the:
Edgefield County Chamber of Commerce Board
Johnston Development Corp. Board
Upper Savannah Council of Governments Board
Edgefield Town Council
Johnston Town Council
Trenton Town Council
Edgefield County School Board
Edgefield County Economic Development Committee; and
Economic Development Partnership Board, which serves Edgefield, Aiken, Saluda, and McCormick counties.

In addition, Bobby Hitt, Secretary of the SC Department of Commerce, said in a letter to me on this topic:

“Overall, it has been my experience that better-informed council members lead to better government in any area of our great state. It has also been my experience that businesses dislike uncertainty, and it is most certainly positive when a government entity is able to eliminate and/or reduce variables. The probability is high that businesses would be in support of such forward momentum to create continuity and stability.”

We want to continue to improve economic development in Edgefield County; this change is one important step in that process.

The final decision is up to the voters next month, as it should be. I encourage you to vote yes.

For all past articles please visit our Archives

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