Mayoral candidates face off in Tega Cay

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comOctober 26, 2013 

— Mayoral candidates in Tega Cay talked business development, communication and the role of the city’s top position Wednesday night in attempt to persuade voters ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

Mayor George Sheppard, Councilman Ron Kirby and political newcomer Larry Pritchard each described why they’d best have the pulse of the public, improve roads, fund parks and lead other city projects. Each candidate spoke of growing business through the city’s own economic development board.

Where the candidates disagreed was on the issue of communicating with the public.

Sheppard said Council communicates daily with the city through, news blasts, Council meetings and other avenues. Kirby touted his campaign’s online survey which drew nearly three pages of concerns residents want addressed. Pritchard said the residents he’s spoken with don’t feel like the city does enough to keep the public aware.

“As an outsider looking in, no,” he said.

While a City Council forum just ahead of the mayoral event focused on public services, financial planning and utility problems, the three candidates for mayor mainly discussed business development.

“We will grow, we have to grow, but we have to maintain a community environment,” Kirby said.

Sheppard was the first to bring up the city developing its own economic development board to work together with an established county one. Pritchard said city rules are too restrictive on businesses and incoming business needs to be encouraged and supported, and additions like Wellmore could create cottage industries if the city pursues them.

All agreed that the 34 commercial businesses in the city now aren’t enough.

“Commercial opportunities are rare for Tega Cay,” Sheppard said, “but we need to find them.”

Sheppard said despite attempts to label him as a problem and water down his successes, he wants to continue on the city’s current path and has “not heard a compelling plan” warranting change. Pritchard said the city has a “lack of openness” and that he doesn’t have any agenda except to serve residents. Kirby said he’ll bring more volunteerism and public input, and that he’s “the one to take the good life and make it greater.”

Voters will decide which of the candidates should lead the city at the Nov. 5 election. Two City Council seats also will be decided.

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