Municipal Elections 2013: The Race for Mayor

Roger Gaddy

Bill Haslett

Michael Davis

WINNSBORO – As the Town of Winnsboro prepares for municipal elections, to be held April 2, The Voice contacted the candidates for Town Council and Mayor for a brief look at their stands on some of the issues. Last week, we heard from the candidates for Town Council. This week, we will hear from our three mayoral candidates. Answers were limited to six sentences.

Here’s what we asked:

1. Please give us a brief history of your employment and education.

2. Please tell us about your history of public service.

3. What do you see as the biggest challenges to the Town of Winnsboro over the next 5 to 10 years?

4. How do you plan to meet those challenges?

5. What do you see as Winnsboro’s greatest assets?

6. How can Winnsboro capitalize on those assets?

7. What makes a mayor an effective leader of a town council?

8. As mayor, how will you help encourage downtown development/revitalization?

9. What is being done, and what more can be done, to ensure adequate water supply for Winnsboro?

Here’s what they had to say:

Dr. Roger Gaddy


1. I up in Aiken, moved to Winnsboro 33 years ago, and am running for re-election as mayor of Winnsboro. I am a graduate of the University of South Carolina and received my medical degree from the Medical University of S.C. in 1976. I have been practicing family medicine ever since.

2. I served as member of the S.C. Medical Association since 1979, served as president in 2000-2001, representing more than 6,000 S.C. physicians. I moved to Winnsboro in 1980 and established a successful medical practice. Locally, I served as president of the Winnsboro Rotary Club, a member of the board of directors for the Bank of Ridgeway, chairman of the Fairfield Health Foundation and helped open the Martin Primary Health Care where Dr. McElmurray and Dr. Crisp currently practice. I have served as chief of staff for Fairfield Memorial Hospital multiple times and have made Winnsboro my permanent home.

3. The biggest challenges for the Town of Winnsboro over the next five to 10 years are to move us forward as a nice small town in the Midlands of South Carolina by marketing our biggest assets which are our history and the rural nature of our community. We will also have to try to recruit industry to town and county; and our responsibility to the Town of Winnsboro is to make sure we have an adequate water supply to bring in that industry that will then bring in more citizens that will help our town grow and prosper.

4. I think our town gets better and better every day in several ways and we have a great base from which we can build. We have some good restaurants in town, several fine downtown shops and stores, quality medical and dental care, automobile dealerships, banking and financial services, real estate and tax preparation services and some limited night life. Since I took office eight years ago, we’ve secured several grants to make improvements to our town, received “clean audits” from our certified municipal accountants and worked on improving our zoning ordinances. I want to continue my efforts to improve Winnsboro’s access to water. I don’t like having mandatory water restrictions put on our citizens, but it’s all we can do right now. Our negotiations with the City of Columbia are ongoing, and as we work in conjunction with, and not independent of, our county and state leaders, I’d like to think we’ll get this problem solved fairly soon.

5. Winnsboro’s greatest assets are that it is centrally located in the state with two and a half hours from the beach; two and a half hours from the mountains; and we are 30 minutes from Columbia, which offers all of the amenities of a moderate to large size city while we are able to live in a rural setting with slower pace lifestyle and in a community where we know our neighbors and children feel safe. We do have a long and rich history and we need to capitalize on that. We have a lot of historic buildings which should be emphasized as tourist attractions, not to mention our only State Railroad Museum; also out toward the Mitford area, Carolina Adventure World, which is a nice outdoor recreational facility that attracts people from all over the state.

6. We need to stay active In the Olde English District, Chamber of Commerce, and tourism endeavors so that people are aware of what our community has to offer and to make it a nice place that people will want to visit and live. Our central location in South Carolina, in close proximity to Columbia, and large open spaces make it ideal for industrial recruitment; and If we are able to capitalize on that, we should be able to attract more residents to our town and county, which in turn will help it grow.

7. I’ve learned a lot over the past eight years, and one of the most important aspects of this job is being a good ambassador for our town. As I said, we can’t improve our community by ourselves, and as mayor I know I have to work with County Council, the hospital administration, our state legislators, the museum here, the Pine Tree Players and every other business and organization in the town limits. Equally important is the mayor’s ability to work with other towns in the county, promote Winnsboro’s strengths and opportunities, and be active in state government as well. I’m impressed with what my counterpart, Charlene Herring, has done as Mayor of Ridgeway. She’s a good leader over there, and has done a lot to put Ridgeway on the map. The Town Council and I are working to do the same thing here in Winnsboro.

8. I think all of us who have lived in Winnsboro for a long period of time remember how Winnsboro was 30 years ago when Uniroyal Rubber Company’s Corporate Headquarters were in Winnsboro and we had a very active and vibrant downtown. Of course, since that period of time, Uniroyal has changed hands multiple times and unlike in past days, the executives of those companies are no longer required to live in Winnsboro. That is the way it was years ago and it will never be that way again as far as requiring corporate employees to live in a certain area. I think our best opportunity to revitalize main street is to partner with the Drew-Blair School of Art; that (over several years) gives us an opportunity to attract students and faculty to our small town, thereby increasing the diversity of residents we have, and also bringing in a population of people who would utilize restaurants, and enjoy downtown the way it was appreciated years ago. This can only be done in cooperation with the school system and with the county, and will take a lot of hard work with the private and public sector.

9.  The Town Council and your local leaders have been very busy over the last six or seven years looking at alternative supplies of water. We have looked at buying other quarries or supplying storage. We have been in negotiations with the South Carolina Electric and Gas and have a tentative agreement to withdraw up to 1 million gallons a day from Lake Monticello to take to our reservoir, although this would involve running a line from Lake Monticello to the reservoir, which could cost anywhere from $8 to $10 million. We also recently have entered a contract with Columbia to buy up to 400,000 gallons of water from the Blythewood area, and are renegotiating that contract to get up to a million gallons of water to supply the county’s industrial park and some of the southern areas of Fairfield County. We are also in negotiations with all the different water providers to look at the possibility of forming a water authority, so that some of the risks and debt can be spread over different entitles, and so that we have a greater possibility and probability of getting grants and/or financing to do things like run the water line from Lake Monticello to our reservoir. Winnsboro has been the sole provider of water for a number of years to the county and to Northeast Richland County, and it is an endeavor that our town can no longer afford to do by itself.

Bill Haslett

1. I have worked as a real estate broker and certified residential appraiser for the past 30+ years in my own business in Summerville, and moved back to my home town of Winnsboro to continue my business in 1997. I finished college at Charleston Southern University in 1973 with a degree in business. I have completed the leadership training program with the S.C. Municipal Association and graduated from the S.C. Department of Commerce’s S.C. Economic Development School. I have attended the annual conference of the Municipal Association every year, completing all of the courses that were available. These fine programs have increased my knowledge of what other successful towns are doing and increased my contacts with legislators and council members across the state. Last year, I attended a four-day course on historic properties in Baltimore, Md., and have acquired many research books on revitalization of historic properties which can be referenced to help restore our historic town to its glory days.

2. I have served on Winnsboro Town Council for the past four years. I am a past member of the Winnsboro Rotary Club, a current member Winnsboro Lions club, a past member of the North Charleston Jaycees and many other volunteer organizations over the last 30 years.

3. The biggest challenges in Winnsboro over the next five to 10 years are insuring that we have adequate water supply, and improving quality of life and cleaning up our town by enforcing our codes.

4. The water challenges can be met with the formation of a joint water authority within Fairfield County. All our local water companies, working together, can pool out resources, money and credit in order to come up with the best long term solutions to insuring safe, affordable and plentiful water for all of our citizens. One thing that really separates small towns from big cities is the sense of community and civic pride. We in the Town of Winnsboro need to work to improve our quality of life by enforcing the property maintenance codes to clean up our town. I will recruit a team of citizens with civic pride that agree to join a Mayors Pride Team and commit to give Winnsboro two hours of community service per week to make Winnsboro a better place to live. If a hundred people do that, it would yield 10,000 hours per year.

5. Our greatest assets are our citizens, our history, our location and the S.C. Railroad Museum. We live close to Columbia and Charlotte and only two hours from the beach and mountains. We have that small town atmosphere and the charm of an historic town. We need to seize on these assets and make a name for ourselves.

6. We need to promote our history, small town atmosphere and advertise to the senior market to move to Winnsboro. These folks don’t need jobs and most are eager to volunteer, plus each family brings $35,000 to $40,000 spendable income to our community. Two new families per month for the next four years would bring our community $3.3 to 3.8 million over those four years. With my leadership, we will develop ties with Camden and Newberry to promote our history and continue to promote the Olde English District. Our town web site needs to promote Winnsboro as a great place to live and shop, and why.

7. An effective leader of town council leads by example. For instance, my wife and I served Christmas dinner to those good folks in Ward 1 on South Garden Street. What a great experience for us. Our Chamber of Commerce director asked me to paint the front door on the Town Clock, and it was done. The grounds of the Mt. Zion School needed cleaning, and I was asked to help and I came with chain saw in hand. It is very important that your Mayor be seen downtown by the citizens and merchants and not just at photo opportunities.

8. The town needs to hire an economic development manager to work with me and the town council and bring the arts and crafts to revitalize downtown. There are many talented artists within our county and surrounding counties that could move into some of the vacant building for sweat equity. We are all looking forward to the Dru Blair College of Art moving to our downtown area. The first order of business should be to repave the parking lot behind Hoots which is owned by the building owners. Building owners need to enhance the front of each building with possible matching grants from the town, as we have had in the past. New trees could be planted on Congress Street which would be given in memory of a family member, along with a Winnsboro blue granite marker.

9. A joint water authority between Winnsboro, Fairfield County, Ridgeway, Blythewood and Mid County Water makes sense. A water study of our area is being done by the Army Corps of Engineers to determine what it the best course of action to take to assure the citizens of our towns and county that we will have adequate water supply for many years to come. The water authority has more borrowing power, and a better chance for grants than just one company. In conclusion, I ask that you support me as your next Mayor for the Town of Winnsboro. I vow to remain open and available for your questions, suggestions and help. I have the time to be a more visible, involved and full-time mayor, which is what is truly needed at this juncture in our history.

Michael L. Davis

1. I’m a native of Fairfield County where I was born and raised. I have worked in numerous businesses in Fairfield County in customer service. It was a great experience to serve citizens with a pleasant smile and a warm-hearted welcome. I attended Fairfield County Schools where I graduated from Fairfield Central High in 1995. I attended South University in Columbia S.C. and received an Associate Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance (2001) and I also graduated from Allen University in Columbia and received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Organization Management (2012). I am currently working at Hardee’s as a Shift-leader and have been in this role for two and a half years.

2. My history of public service in Fairfield County includes Vice-President (PTO) of Fairfield Magnet School of Mathematic & Science (2008-09). It was a pleasure working with a productive and active organization to help improve the education of the students of Fairfield County Schools.

3. The biggest challenges I see in the Town of Winnsboro over the next five to 10 years are: providing recreational activities, creating jobs and the strengthening of confidence of students so they can improve their educational goals. Secondly, the biggest challenge is to keep the citizens from moving out of the city of Winnsboro into another city or state. I truly think that I have the experience to bring forth a positive outlook which will give me the opportunity to overcome the challenges that comes with the job. Without any doubts, I’m looking to serve with devotion and determination.

4. I plan to meet these challenges by believing in the Town of Winnsboro. I plan to work actively toward improving social networking, political actions, the community involvement and the family way of living. I will have the responsibility to work efficiently and with a clear mind, I can use my abilities to make the Town of Winnsboro a better place for everyone.

5. Winnsboro’s greatest asset is the “History.” Winnsboro has offered numerous historical homes, the Town Clock that was built in the 1820s, the Fairfield County Courthouse and the Historical Museum that was built in the 1970s which is located on Congress Street.

6. To capitalize on these assets of Winnsboro, we must educate our youth and citizens to take advantage in knowing about the History of Winnsboro and the value of each Historical institution. Even though I may not know all of the history of Winnsboro, I am seeking to take full responsibility to bring knowledge to the community in every way.

7. In order to be an affective Mayor, the town council and I must have integrity and remain motivated so we can be ready to serve the community and the town with excellence. Also, to be an effective leader as mayor, I must be willing to work together with a positive staff to inspire others to become a part of a working team with great commitments.

8. In order to help encourage downtown development/revitalization, I must create a strategic plan to improve the financial profile to ensure that our fiscal and financials are stable. Creating small businesses would help to improve downtown, encourage citizens to take advantage of shopping from door to door and help thrive the economy to move towards a better future by giving downtown a new look for growth and development.

9. I believed our city officials are working very hard to ensure that we are getting clean water supply. In order to ensure that we are getting adequate water supply we must work together to implement economic growth where the city of Winnsboro can apply for grants from state government and other local water companies. We need support in order to help install wells which would provide adequate water for citizens in Fairfield County. I will make sure that the Town of Winnsboro provide adequate water supply while taxes remain stable. More wells will be needed in order to provide proper water to the Town of Winnsboro in case the reservoir can’t pull through. I feel that before providing water supply to another county, we should make sure our county is taking care first.

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