Candidate Q & A: Ridgeway Town Council

RIDGEWAY (March 31, 2016) – Five candidates will be vying for two seats on Town Council in Tuesday’s municipal elections, and The Independent Voice recently reached out to those candidates with a brief questionnaire.

Up for grabs Tuesday are the remaining two years on former Councilman Russ Brown’s term, as well as a pair of four-year terms for seats currently held by Donald Prioleau and Doug Porter.

Porter and former Ridgeway mayor and Councilman Rufus B. Jones Jr. face off for Brown’s remaining two years, while Prioleau, Angela Harrison and Tina M. Johnson contend for the two four-year seats.

Only three of the candidates – Harrison, Johnson and Jones – responded to our questionnaire. Their answers are presented here unedited, as they provided them.

Our questions were:

  1. Please provide a brief history of your education, training, and employment.
  2. If you are an incumbent, please tell us how long you have served, and briefly describe your accomplishments as a Council member. If you are a challenger, briefly describe any leadership roles you have taken in the community, initiatives implemented, challenges faced, goals accomplished; and tell us what has motivated you to seek office.
  3. How would you classify the current direction of the Town of Ridgeway? Is it moving in the right direction or the wrong direction? If you feel it is moving in the wrong direction, what steps would you take to correct that course? If it is moving in the right direction, how would you ensure it continues to do so?
  4. What are the biggest challenges Ridgeway faces and how would you meet those challenges?

 

The answers:

Angela Harrison, 49, 170 North Palmer St., RidgewayAngela_Harrison_WEB_IMG_0288 copy

  1. I have a BS degree in Elementary Education, Winthrop University. I worked for many years as a second-grade teacher and I am currently a homeschool teacher for our 8-year-old daughter, Rosalee.
  2. I currently serve as Chairman of the Ridgeway Town Planning Commission and Media Captain of the Pig on the Ridge Committee. On the Planning Commission, I helped update the town’s Zoning Ordinances and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which are important tools for managing growth and orderly development. Over the years, I stood up to those who wanted to sidestep our comprehensive plan or weaken it. I support progress and our thriving business district, but not at the expense of harming our town’s unique character. As Media Captain for Pig on the Ridge, I created the festival’s social media sites three years ago and work with the Midlands area media to get the word out about the cook-off. Our Facebook page has become a big part of the festival. We’re up to 2,200 “Likes” on Facebook from people across the region.
  3. We need to focus on the basics. We were recently notified about water quality violations, and one of the downtown fire hydrants has been leaking into a storm drain for over a year. We need to make sure we have safe water and a good system for notifying residents when there’s a problem, and we need to stop sending money down the drain. We need to ensure adequate police protection and safe roads and sidewalks. We need to make these services the top priorities in our budget.
  4. Ridgeway’s biggest challenge is growth. As the town grows and buildings such as the fire department become available for rent, we need to make sure we preserve the look and feel of our town. That’s what attracts people to Ridgeway and keeps them here for generations. We need to unite Ridgeway with projects such as a community garden and beautification of the old school, along with the great festivals and events we already have. The more residents we can get charged up about our town, the more successful we’ll be at balancing progress and preservation.

 

 

Rufus Jones family has lived in Ridgeway for over 100 years. I was brought up in Ridgeway and did move to Blythewood for a while. I returned to Ridgeway and have lived here for the last 20 years.Rufus jones copy_WEB

  1. Leadership – Former Mayor of Ridgeway and former councilman.
  2. I was one of the founding members to start Pig on The Ridge which has turn out to be the largest Barbecue cook off in the state. As Mayor I had the old school torn down. The old school building was in need of repair and it was a safety hazard to continue to leave it as it was. As Mayor I started the remodeling of the Century House. I volunteer for meals on wheels. Motivation – I have been in business for 40 years and I feel that this would help the citizens of Ridgeway because of important responsible decisions I’ve made in Business.
  3. When I was Mayor I had planned after the Century House was remodeled to move the Mayor and council in the Century House and rent the old town hall on Church Street for about 650 or 700 hundred dollars a month. The town would have had this income every month, however they sold the old town hall on Church street for 10,000.00 dollars and had it moved. I felt like this was a bad decision. Now the money for the old town hall is gone plus the revenue we could have received. This revenue could have paid the expenses at the Century House. (costly decision).
  4. Challenges – Revenue for the town and an out dated water system. Cotton lot rental agreement.

 

Tina Johnson, 59, a resident of Palmer Street in downtown Ridgeway. I am the mother of three grown daughters and grandmother of two grandsons. I am a member of Ebenezer Lutheran Church.Tina Johnson copy_WEB

  1. I grew up in the Blythewood-Columbia area, and seven years ago I opened a business in downtown Ridgeway – Over the Top Emporium. Like all businesses, it was a struggle getting started, but today it is one of many very successful businesses in Ridgeway and was named Fairfield Small Business of the Year in 2013. Through it all I maintained my career in Law Enforcement, serving for seven years as administrative assistant in the Waverly Magistrates Office in Richland County and 27 years as Administrative Assistant for the Forest Acres Police Chief. This experience taught me much about small town government and its importance to the citizens it serves.
  2. I have served in several government and community leadership roles in Ridgeway and Fairfield County including the following: Economic Development Committee, Arts on the Ridge Committee, Christmas Parade Committee, Fairfield County Economic Development Committee and Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Board. I currently serve as Chairman of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. My work on these committees and boards has always been motivated by my desire to make Ridgeway and our County a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.
  3. I was named Ridgeway’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and received the Friends of the Arts Award in 2015. I have worked hard to promote the Town of Ridgeway, helping to organize many annual downtown business/social events to entertain and thank our residents for their support as well as bring literally thousands of visitors to our town.
  4. Ridgeway has been moving in the right direction for several years. For residents and businesses alike, it offers a glorious history and unique opportunities. But Ridgeway stands on the brink of growth and we must have leaders who can carefully manage and guide that growth in a way that both promotes and protects our wonderful town.
  5. As a member of the Ridgeway Town Council, it will be my goal to promote healthy growth in our community, always being mindful not to lose our small town appeal. I will continue to encourage economic growth and prosperity, making Ridgeway a business-friendly destination while protecting and promoting our town’s unique history and our residents’ treasured quality of life. I will continue to emphasize public safety for our citizens and visitors. As a resident and a business owner in Ridgeway, my goal has always been for the betterment of our community. As a member of the Ridgeway Town Council, that will continue to be my focus, always mindful of what is important to our citizens.

 

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department, 170 Palmer St., and close at 7 p.m.