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Edgefield County Council Chairman’s Update

August 15, 2013
I wanted to provide you with some information on two items of interest.
Chairman’s Community Project Announced
This year’s Chairman’s Community Fundraising Project is designed to bring more books and supplies to the three Edgefield County libraries.
Libraries are an integral part of every community, and they play a key role for young and old.
In the three Edgefield County libraries, located in the towns of Trenton, Johnston and Edgefield, patrons continue to check out books, participate in programs and use computers at an all-time high, based on the statistics showing patron visits and what they use the library for.
The funds raised through the Chairman’s Community Project will be divided among the three County libraries, unless the donor designates a specific library for his or her donation.
Donations will be primarily used to purchase additional children’s and teen’s books, as well as programming supplies used by the children, such as paper and craft materials.
While state and county money goes into the local libraries, those funds are enough to fund salaries, utilities, office supplies, mobile libraries, and other administrative costs. Only a small amount is left to purchase books and materials, unfortunately.
This Project is my annual fundraising effort to help fill a need in the area. Past years’ Projects have included raising money for heating bills for those who couldn’t afford the higher bills to providing more funds and food for the Johnston Food Bank.
For those who want to contribute to this year’s fundraising Project, monetary donations, which are tax deductible, should be mailed to the Friends of the Edgefield County Library, 105 Court House Square, Edgefield, SC 29824.
The Project runs during the month of September, but you can begin giving today!
Four-Year Terms for County Council Members
County Council gave the first of three readings to an ordinance earlier this month to give you, the voters, a chance to decide on whether you want to change the County Council terms of office from 2 year terms to 4 year terms.
I appreciate those who have come to me asking for details to better understand the issue. I want to provide that information here.
What’s better: 2 year terms or 4 year terms? It’s a question worth asking ourselves.
Only three counties in South Carolina – Anderson, York and Edgefield Counties – have 2 year terms. The other 43 counties in our state have 4 year terms. While being in the minority doesn’t make us wrong, does it make us right? What do the other 43 counties know that we don’t know?
First, think about the other elected officials on your ballot in the General Elections. All of them in Edgefield County are on 4 year terms – School Board seats, every Mayor, every Town Council seat, every county-wide office (Sheriff, Clerk of Court, Treasurer, etc.).
I’ll give you a few examples of why I believe changing terms of office is important.
Having 2 year terms means that you’re asking elected officials to always look to the next election. I believe the temptation is there to make bad decisions because the next election is “right around the corner.” Also, you have a chance to have a complete turnover, not just in the Council, but in County Staff. If that happens, citizens are at a greater risk for bad decisions and, as a result, higher taxes.
In other words, increasing the terms to 4 years can actually protect you, the citizen and taxpayer.
In addition, 4 year terms don’t protect incumbents. How do I know? I see them voted out in every election. You have no trouble figuring out who you want in office.
Having 4 year terms also adds stability to the County. When business and industry look to come 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 when you have potential instability in County government.
Here’s something else to consider: When was the last time Edgefield County voters sent a County Council member home after just 2 years? It’s been so long ago, I can’t find anyone who remembers – if there has even been one.
Finally, you may ask yourself: If 2 year terms are good enough for the U.S. House and S.C. House, shouldn’t they be good enough for County Council? The U.S. and S.C. House terms are set under the federal and state constitutions, respectively. That was the way the founding fathers ensured that the federal and state elected officials would go back home to connect with the people, instead of staying in Washington or Columbia.
I contend that the County Council is closer to the people than those who serve in the U.S. House and S.C. House. Every day, County Council members live in the districts from which we were elected. We are here, and you can find us easily. You see us in the post office, in the grocery store, in church and at the gas station.
How much closer to the people can we be?
All I ask is that you consider these facts as you start formulating opinions on this issue. If Council approves it, the final decision is up to you through a referendum in the November 2014 election, as it should be.
Until next time,
Dean Campbell