Mayoral candidates have their say

The candidates for Blythewood mayor present their plans and platforms.

Keith Bailey, 60

A Blythewood resident for 23 years, I was born in Nassawadox, VA. I am a military child with roots all over the world.  I received a B.S. Degree in Business Management from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, VA, in 1981.  As a commissioned second lieutenant in the United States Army, I served honorably as an active duty officer for over 22 years, receiving several commendatory awards including qualification status for Airborne Ranger.

I’ve served in several public service offices here in South Carolina, including:  Mayor of Blythewood (2008-2012); Blythewood Town Council (2004-2008); Deputy Director for A Better Way’s “Project G.O.” (Gang Out),  an organization focused on cleaning up gang activity in SC neighborhoods; Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Hopes of Higher Education, a non-profit organization that bridges the educational gap from high school to college for foster children who reached age of maturity; Co-founder of the Blythewood Youth Football and Cheer League, an organization that teaches leadership, followership and team building to youth between the ages of eight and twelve and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Francis Burns United Methodist Church.

I am proud of my record as a public servant of Blythewood. During my term as mayor, the town government:

  • Planned and implemented what, today, is Blythewood’s crown jewel – The Manor and Doko Meadows Park
  • Assisted in transitioning the Blythewood Business Coalition into the Greater Blythewood Chamber of Commerce.
  • Assisted in establishing the Blythewood Historical Society.
  • Brought the Rodeo and the Diamond Invitational Baseball Tournament to Blythewood
  • Welcomed five new businesses to town due to economic enterprise
  • Beautified Exit 27 (bridge area over I-77) with trees and flowering shrubs.
  • Negotiated a $450,000 settlement for the Town with SCE&G
  • Annexed the Google property and over 2000 additional acres into Town limits
  • Established a recycling point in the town
  • Developed walking trails in the park
  • Brought attractive directional signage to the town
  • Created kiosks on Main Street and at Town Hall to promote town events

During my time as mayor of Blythewood, many of the major attractions and events in the town were implemented, and many traditions were started. There is more to governing a municipality than making legislative decisions pertaining to zoning and ordinances.  I feel it’s important to make life better, more enjoyable and more fulfilling for those who live, work and play here.

 While our previous accomplishments continue to enhance the town, there is work still to be done. We do not have enough ball fields. We have traffic congestion and uncontrolled residential growth. We need to continue working toward road and infrastructure improvements. And we need to make the best use of our gift from travelers that keeps on giving – the A-tax and H-tax revenue.

Governing the town is not a new experience for me. If I am fortunate enough to be elected to serve again, I will continue a vision and a plan that have proven successful. 

With your vote and my experience, together we can continue to move Blythewood forward. 

Brian Franklin, 51

I was raised in Blythewood and attended Richland School District 2 schools here. I graduated from The Citadel as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1990, and became an Army Officer. I served for 24 years, deployed to combat three times, was awarded a Combat Action Badge and two Bronze Stars, and after serving honorably, retired back to my hometown.  Although we met thousands of people around the world, the unbeatable character, hospitality and hard-working people of Blythewood called us back home to raise our kids. Of our eight children, five are still at home with us here in Blythewood (not for too much longer!).

After earning two Master’s Degrees [in Health Administration (Chapman University) and Strategic Studies (U.S. Army War College)], I turned to public service. I served on the Blythewood Planning Commission, was elected Chairman, and later became elected as a Town Councilman (2014-2019). Today, I proudly serve you as a Councilman, and I now want to employ my leadership to accomplish my five-pillar vision for Blythewood as your next Mayor: 

  1. Engineer smart growth. We must own the new Richland County industrial park expansion, widen our local roads, keep developers in check, and get our traffic problem under control now. We must be vocal and involved in all construction in the Greater Blythewood Area.
  2. Build Partnerships. We must reestablish our relationship with the Greater Blythewood Chamber of Commerce to work with area businesses to build a better future with public-private partnerships. Better relations with the County Council and Recreation Commission are also paramount.
  3. Provide for our Citizens. Now is the time to procure land and build a state-of-the-art sports complex. This facility will also host many family and senior activities which are badly needed in Blythewood today. Simultaneously, we have to build sidewalks to connect our neighborhood and facilities. As I see it, a person living anywhere in town should be able to walk, bike or drive a golf cart all the way to Town Hall on a safe, lighted sidewalk.
  4. Be disciplined. I will enforce our ordinances. If a developer tries to shortcut a project, or clear-cut acres of land only to let it sit idle, there must be consequences. “Woods” are what make Blythe“wood” unique and must be properly maintained when possible within these subdivisions. 
  5. Act boldly. I propose we put a referendum on next year’s ballot and offer our neighbors a voluntary opportunity to join us in the Town of Blythewood. Blythewood should include nearly all of the 29016 zip code boundary. Join together or prepare for the City of Columbia to move northward as the population continues to grow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must stand up and control our growth while modernizing our facilities and services. Together we can build a great new vision on our already solid foundation (kudos to outgoing Mayor Mike Ross for a job well done). I would appreciate your vote on November 5th– Vote Bryan Franklin for Mayor of Blythewood.  Call or text 803.800.3922. Thank you.

Malcom Gordge, 71

Four years ago I was honored to be elected as a member of Blythewood Town Council. It has been an extraordinary and rewarding experience for me and I feel I can build upon that experience and serve Blythewood’s residents as its Mayor.

My career with Spirax Sarco as Engineering Manager gave me the opportunity to travel throughout the world giving me a broad perspective of life and interacting with people to identify opportunities and solve problems.  Since retiring, I have found that my life-time of experience has been of value in serving the Town as a Councilman and chairing the Planning Commission before that. I also serve my local neighborhood as a director of Ashley Oaks HOA and both my wife Emily and I volunteer our time to the School Improvement Council for Muller Road Middle School.

Having lived in Ashley Oaks since 2004 I have seen the effect of unprecedented growth in the Blythewood area and this was the main issue that concerned me and my neighbors and caused me to become active in the affairs of the Town. I am not against development per se but it should achieve at least one of two things: fulfill a need of the Town or improve the quality of life for the residents of Blythewood.

In my view, Blythewood has far exceeded reasonable residential growth and is at risk of losing the very assets that make Blythewood a great place to live in, raise families and appreciate one another.

As Mayor I will do whatever is possible to preserve our rural zones. The Town’s Zoning Ordinance is in need of simplifying and updating and I will ensure that review takes place with your input.

I have been an active member of the Transportation Penny Advisory Committee for Richland County to ensure that the $29 million allocated to Blythewood is realized for the road improvements that will benefit everyone using the roads in our Town.

In addition to the Richland Penny Program, I represent the Town at the Central Midlands Council of Government and negotiated a cost sharing study for a Traffic Improvement Plan for the Blythewood area which looks at the road improvements needed for the traffic volume we are likely to see in twenty years time.

Our Comprehensive Plan is due for an overhaul as we approach the next decade and I am excited about driving that initiative forward. This is particularly important with the 2020 Census approaching. Every resident needs to complete the census so that Blythewood receives the full Federal funding it is entitled to and make it work for us.

My vision is for an inclusive Blythewood that values its cultural history and recognizes the value of all citizens. I have been proud to chair the Committee for Black History month for the last three years and have seen the value of this event which will continue to grow and develop.

As Mayor, I shall work diligently for you and for the good of Blythewood.

Related Article: Town council candidates lay out plans

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