Promises Made; Promises Kept!
In October of 2013 at the request of friends and members of the community, I filed to become your mayor.
As I began my campaign, I found that all of our citizens had concerns about our city, but certain concerns were heard over and over. As I listened to those concerns, I made promises, if elected, to work on what on what was important to our citizens. Notice I said to work on (not fix).
The concerns I heard most were also my very concerns, and in no particular order they were lack of jobs or economic development, lack of a recreation complex for our citizens, and our electric rates. I will also add one of my own, an aging and decaying infrastructure which was reaching critical need.
Electric rates were a huge concern to our citizens and were something we had to address. After years of electric rate increases, it was obvious we needed to do something to address our rising electric rates. Since becoming mayor, the city has contracted with two separate firms to conduct rate studies and make suggestions on how to improve our rates. The first study, which was done three years ago, showed that the city was out of balance when it came to our utility and sanitation rates. The second study, which was done this year, confirmed those findings.
As promised, the mayor and council did work on your rates. You may not realize this, but in the past five years (since becoming your mayor), you have not had a single electric rate increase. Not one! In fact you have actually seen one rate decrease. If re-elected as mayor for a second full term, I do not see a need for an electric rate increase over the next four years. I believe that in the 2019-2020 budget, we should consider another electric rate decrease. I firmly believe that the city can grow, continue to offer quality services and repair our infrastructure without an electric rate increase over the next four years. If so, this will mean a nine year period with no rate increases and two rate decreases.
Jobs and economic development were another major concern during the last two mayoral races. After the closing of Clinton Mills, Torrington, Anderson Hosiery, and major cutbacks at Whitten Center, Clinton was in dire need of new industry and jobs. At this point, the council with the help of the Clinton Economic Development Corporation decided to take matters in their own hands. With the help of a loan from Santee Cooper, the city built what I believe is the only city-owned speculative building for industry in the state. That spec building now houses a Fortune 100 company, GE Renewable Energy, and the city will be building a second spec building in the coming weeks. The city also has the only Class A Industrial Park in Laurens County. Not only has GE come to Clinton, but so has Zaxbys, Arby’s and the Cotton Loft is months away from opening in our downtown.
Plans to build a new outdoor Pavilion and improve parking and landscaping should come before council in the coming months. The Lawrence Young building had over one million dollars spent on renovations, 103 East Main is scheduled for major renovation, The Main Street Bakery has been open for close to a year, and the frame shop building which covers half a block has been sold to an investor. Newberry investor Star Chapell has bought the bonded warehouse on West Main Street and is investing over $700,000 in her new events center. Clinton today has ten new homes currently under construction. This has not happened since the 1960’s when Joe Bonds built much needed new housing. Do not believe the naysayers. John Lummus, CEO of the Upstate Alliance, made a presentation to city council in September and stated that Clinton was doing everything right and was poised to compete for jobs and economic growth.
I also promised to see a recreation facility built in Clinton, and one with more than just ball fields. Citizens felt we needed a complex that would provide something for all our citizens, young and old alike. Thanks to your current city manager and council, the park is in its preliminary stages and will contain walking trails, an outdoor gazebo for birthday parties, reunions and gatherings, multipurpose fields for football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball, and an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and events.
These recent investments have not been an accident or something that just fell in our laps, nor was it accomplished by a single individual. Clinton has one of the best qualified groups of council members in the state of South Carolina. We also have a fantastic staff and excellent employees who work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I would place our Planning Commission as one of the best in the state. The Clinton Economic Development Corporation has been instrumental in our success as a city.
Knowing all of this, I do plan to run for another term as your mayor. We have accomplished a great deal over the last four years, but there is a lot more that we can do together. One citizen stated in a letter to the editor four years ago stated that he was voting for a “team builder.” I’m proud to say that we have assembled a great team here in Clinton. You have a city council who is working together to make our community a better place. And quite frankly, I’ve never seen our city look better! I do have high expectations for the city of Clinton and its people and promise to give 110 % as your mayor as I have over these past five years.
“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” –Aristotle
(Bob McLean is mayor of Clinton.)