Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Three Town Council seats are up for grabs in the November 5, election. Voters will cast ballots in District 3, represented by John Floyd; District 4, represented by Monica Murdaugh; and District 5, represented by Bubba Hammet, Jr. John Floyd and Bubba Hammet, Jr. are first term council members. Monica Murdaugh has held her seat for seven years. Challengers are Darren Tisdale (District 3); Derek Fitts (District 4); and Mike Barrineau (District 5). Voting will take place at Kingstree Town Hall. Polls will open at 7 AM sharp.
John Floyd is a Kingstree native.He is a member of the Kingstree Finance Committee and a member of the Kingstree Little League Board and the Williamsburg Academy Booster Club. Floyd said the changes during his first term have been positive with the main focus on financial stability. "The biggest thing is the financial stability where we have reversed the deficit spending and straightened up accounting," said Floyd. If elected for a second term he would continue to focus on the General Fund and the Water/Sewer Fund, improve and clarify existing Ordinances and strengthen the Architectural Review Board. "We need to get everybody on the same board so we know what direction we are going," said Floyd. He would also like to see more funding for the city's parks and recreation and improvements in downtown parking. Floyd said his district, which includes the historical street front area, is near 60 percent occupancy. "I don't have the exact numbers but we were probably closer to 30 percent when I got on council." He said he'd like to see more businesses that will attract the millennial generation. "We want to see a return of the younger generation," said Floyd. "We're constantly trying to recruit as many businesses as we can." Floyd contributes the successes (such as the $10 million in water/waste water project that is near completion) to a cohesive council. "We've done a lot in the last few years," said Floyd. "We don't have one council person that dominates the meetings and makes all the decisions. We have a really good team that makes thorough decisions, there's not bickering between us and very progressive. There's not a lot of politics and I think that is why we've been so successful in what we've been able to accomplish. We spent $10 million dollars (2010 water/waste water project) and we can pay for it. That's never been done before."
Darren Tisdale is a lifelong resident of Kingstree and owner of Williamsburg Lawn Care. He is a former youth pastor and former HomeTown Chamber member. He is currently serving as chairman of the Town of Kingstree Architectural Review Board. Tisdale said his first attempt at politics is based on his desire to bring a voice to the people. "I want to be a voice for the people. I don't want to sling no mud," said Tisdale though he didn't explain what he meant by slinging mud. "I think Kingstree can improve by bringing in new businesses." Tisdale repeated his campaign promise. "I believe the biggest thing is I'd like to hear and let the people's voice be spoken in the meetings. And to hear people's heart and see what people want to bring to the table," said Tisdale who attends Town Council meetings whenever he can. "I want to be that channel for them."
Monica Murdaugh has been a councilwoman for seven years. She is a graduate of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government. During her tenure as a councilmember, the Town has balanced its budget to include a general fund reserve. She introduced a senior well-check program to retired Kingstree Police Chief Robert Ford, which continues today. She is also working with Police Chief Eric Williams in developing a rehabilitative program for first-time minor offenders. She has purposed and is seeking funding for a splash pad (water park) at the Kingstree Recreation Center. Murdaugh has been a member of the budget committee for the past four years and was on the Building Committee during the renovation of the Kingstree Train Depot. She was chosen by the Municipal Association to appear in a You Tube Video where she encourages people to visit Kingstree. She is currently serving as Mayor Protem. "I look forward to being re-elected so that we can continue to make Kingstree a prosperous town and a town of peace. That's always been my emphasis: peace and prosperity," Murdaugh said. "And to give people more opportunities so that we can grow and our town can be the bustling town it used to be."
Derek Fitts moved back to his hometown in 2009 after living in Columbia for 30 years. He is a graduate of Kingstree Senior High School and the University of South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Fitts is currently owner of DFM Consulting Company, a Financial Services Company with agents in South Carolina and Georgia. He spent time in the Air Force. He also served as president of the South Carolina Mortgage Broker's Association. Fitts said he is a good candidate because he feels council can do better. "I have a different perception how things can be handled," said Fitts. "Customer service is one and how citizens' concerns are addressed or maybe they haven't been presented correctly but the city should take a different look at it."
Bubba Hammet is in his first term as town council member. Hammet has been a staunch advocate of bringing the Kingstree Canal up to code and is currently seeking funding for renovations to Gilland Park, the town's only river front park. He has strived to preserve the history of Kingstree by preserving some of the historical buildings. He voted to remove a Main Street building and a private residence off the demolition list. The private residence was ultimately renovated and occupied. Hammet also helped to preserve the former Belk building. He has served on the Town's finance committee and is vice president of the Williamsburg Historical Society. He is also a member of the revolving loan committee, a sub-committee of Waccamaw Council of Governments. He is an active member of the Keep Williamsburg Beautiful Committee. "Kingstree is known for its natural beauty, historic structures and a peaceful small town atmosphere and I want to preserve that," said Hammet. "I also want to provide a welcoming environment for small business and industry that will be a benefit to the citizens of the Town of Kingstree. I am a life long resident of the Town of Kingstree and could not even think of living any where else."
Mike Barrineau has been a resident of Williamsburg County since 1995. He is a teacher with the Georgetown County School District. Running for Town Council is Barrineau's first attempt at politics; however, the idea has been on his mind for some time. "I've thought about it often and I think it is something Id like to do," said Barrineau who would like to see the empty buildings in the historic district filled with businesses. "I look around Kingstree - it's a great town with great potential." Barrineau said though Hammet has done a good job, he wants to see what he can do. "He's (Hammet) has done a good job but I want an opportunity to see if I can do as good as he's done, or maybe better." "I promise the voters I'm going to represent their best interest, not my best interest, and the best interests of Kingstree." Barrineau was a member of the Kingstree Jaycees and is co-chair and treasurer of Duck's Unlimited. He splits the majority of his time between work and family but pledges to make every meeting he can. "There are some things that I can't get out of stuff at school, like open houses and conferences and those kind of things, but it won't be just to lay out and watch a football game."