Richland County Council candidates have their say

Brown, Barron challenge incumbent Kennedy for Richland County Council seat 7.

Incumbent Gwendolyn Kennedy

Kennedy did not respond to The Voice’s request for a campaign statement.

Challenger Gretchen Barron

I am an educator, small business owner, community organizer and women’s advocate. I am a native South Carolinian and currently reside in Blythewood. I have been engaged in educational program implementation and management for nearly twenty years. From young University of South Carolina student to buying my first home in Starks Terrace to bringing my children home from the hospital, District 7 has been my home. I am married with two children.

My husband, James, and I own and operate Purposed Vision Consulting. Its primary function is to assist clients streamline and develop around their core requirements. We established Barron Academy in 2005, providing after-school programs, summer camps, and one-on-one tutoring for high poverty low performing schools.

I am running for the Richland County Council District 7 because I have heard from many in our community speaking on the things we need and the things we do not have. Their voices are not receiving the response they need or deserve. Many of which live in unincorporated areas of the county. I am running because I want the people of District 7 to know that they have an active voice on County Council who is committed to addressing the kitchen table issues now and when I am elected.

We affectionately refer to my campaign as Team Barron. We are not a grassroots campaign, instead we are a community roots campaign. If you follow my campaign you will see that I have spotlighted local businesses; worshiped in the District at local churches; and hosted listening sessions both in person and on social media focusing on community issues not political issues. Team Barron is about embodying our campaign slogan, “Here to Serve.”

My priorities are threefold:

Education excellence- Providing equitable services to both Richland School Districts one and two, while hiring highly qualified and caring adults. Education excellence starts with improving the education system that creates a culture for students and teachers, so both can excel.

Economic development- Development that supports local business and entrepreneurs, while balancing economic growth that is sustainable in the long term. We do not want to open local business just to close them 5 years later. Economic development should be synonymous with community development.

Leadership through integrity- I am committed to be an active voice in the community the leads with integrity and transparency while eliminating waste and mismanagement of funds.

The voters should know that I believe in transparency, integrity, and accountability. That will not change when I am on County Council. I plan to bring information back to you and delivered it in a way everyone can understand it. This is my home and I am here to serve and work for a better Richland County.

Challenger Richard Brown

My name is Richard Brown and I’m a candidate for Richland County Council in District 7 and my goal is to earn your vote for A Better Richland County. I oppose virtually every vote my opponent, the incumbent candidate, has cast on behalf of citizens in District 7.

First, I would move to publish the check register on the county website, so citizens can see what the county is spending. It is hard to know if public funds are being properly allocated until we see where the money is being spent.

Second, I will focus on mitigating neighborhood nuisances such as overgrown vegetation, inoperable and junk vehicles, litter and debris, deteriorating fencing and graffiti. We want to forestall the property vacancy, abandonment cycle that immediately precedes blight.

Third, I would work on recruiting business and industry to Richland County. It is important to find out why other regions of South Carolina are flourishing and replicate their success.   Google opened a Half Billion dollar complex in Berkeley and Volvo invests One Billion in a plant in Ridgeville and not Richland? We need to bring more industry to Richland County. Because of the virus lockdown; The Wall Street Journal estimates that 30% of all businesses will fail by July 2020; and Richland already had its share of vacant commercial space and unoccupied retail in Richland Mall, Dutch Square and Columbia Place. We need to replicate the success we see in Horry, Charleston and the Upstate.

Fourth, let’s preserve our suburban and rural communities, grow our agricultural sector, and make prudent investments to expand opportunities in rural Richland.  I would engage with leaders in rural and suburban Richland to enact policies directly benefitting those with the most at stake.

I fully support our brave Firefighters, Sheriff’s Department and County employees who are dedicated and committed professionals. I thank them for their devotion to the citizens of Richland County.

For many years, as member of the Richland County Coalition of Neighborhoods, I’ve advocated to eliminate neighborhood eyesores such as dumped tires, abandoned vehicles and commercial development in close proximity to housing. I strongly oppose excessive water and sewer fees and uninhibited utility rate hikes that tend to push citizens toward housing insecurity. 

I’m employed professionally as an auditor for a government agency; I’m a graduate of Harvard University and my wife Cynthia Brown and I, reside in Blythewood. Please join our campaign by visiting or @rb4rc. I encourage everyone to vote absentee to safeguard the heath of your family, friends and neighbors.  Call Richland County Board of Elections at 803-576-2240, request an absentee ballot and vote for Richard Brown for Richland County Council District 7 for A Better Richland County. 

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]