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Candidates running for Spartanburg County Council

Spartanburg County Council members, including (from left to right) Jessica Coker, Justin McCorkle, Bob Walker, Manning Lynch, David Britt, Jack Mabry, and Monier Abusaft, meet during a council session at the Spartanburg County Administration Building in Spartanburg, Monday evening, February 21, 2022.

2022 Voter Guide: Here are the candidates running for Spartanburg County Council

Primaries for the 2022 elections in South Carolina will be held June 14 as voters whittle down Republican and Democratic candidates ahead of the general election on Nov. 8.

Voters can participate in any one party’s primary in South Carolina, which does not provide registration by party.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the race for an office, a runoff will be held on June 28, and voters who participated in that party’s primary will be eligible to vote in the runoff.

Related reporting:  Spartanburg County roads, growth top issues as 3 council members face primary challenges

Visit scvotes.gov to register to vote, check eligibility, view sample ballots and find polling places. Voters must register at least 30 days in advance of an election to vote in it.

The information below is provided by the Spartanburg Herald Journal as a service to our readers. The information was provided by the candidates, except what was found in background checks. Responses have been edited with respect to space and clarity. 

Reporting like this would not be possible without our subscribers. Please subscribe by visiting goupstate.com.

District 2 (Republican primary contested)

Candidate: Jack A. Mabry/Republican (incumbent) 

Location: Boiling Springs

Occupation: Small Business Owner Insurance Agency

Top issues: The top Issues facing our county is growth crumbling roads these thing are putting pressure on our Infrastructure.

What are your plans if you were elected? My plan is to continue working hard for Economic development in our county bringing in new jobs retaining our worker increasing wages . We strive so hard to give young people a first-class education in all our school district I want to make sure after graduation from high school or college they can come home and find jobs and we get the return on our investment. I also want to continue addressing the crumbling roads and how do we pay for them. At this point we have $77 million in road projects $30 million from a bond. This a first big step since voting out the $25 road fee ,We need other means to continue road work once the courthouse is complete in 2025. We can put the vote to the people to see the one penny sales tax for capitol projects. It will work, but we have to have buy in.

Why should residents vote for you?

Experience. I have served this community for 35 year starting with the Boiling Springs Youth Association as president vice president and served on the board when when Bryant Road Ball Fields were purchased. I then decided to run for District 2 School board where I served 13 years as a trustee and board chair for District 2. We built several new elementary schools, middle and high schools and athletic facilities in Chesnee and Boiling Springs. I have the experience In working on boards where you have different personalities and all come together for the good of the people I represent .

Candidate: O’Neal Mintz/Republican 

Location: Chesnee

Lived in district: 46 years

Occupation: Self-employed

Top issues: I will push for a 12-month “cooling-off period” or moratorium on any new subdivision permits. Other rapidly growing counties such as Horry, Greenville, and Lexington, have already taken similar actions. This period would allow the Planning Commission the much-needed time to address the challenges created by such rapid growth.

What are your plans if you were elected? I will fight taxes. Spartanburg County Council has raised taxes in the last four years by 6.7 mills, which cost the average family in District 2 about $121 per year in additional taxes. This year is a re-appraisal year, which means Council could raise property taxes to the maximum amount allowed by the state, 15 percent. I will not vote for a tax increase.

I will fight illegal executive sessions. County Council routinely meets in closed sessions before public meetings. Legitimate reasons for an executive session are very limited, such as discussing personnel matters or active litigation. Any other closed session is illegal since it denies public access to public meetings. I will walk out of any illegitimate executive session and make every effort to ensure public access to public meetings.

Why should residents vote for you? You can count on me to be an independent voice for your interests on County Council. I am a fighter, willing to deal with challenging issues and stand up for what is right for the people in District Two.

You can count on me to work hard and return your phone calls. I have 54 years of experience building a successful family business. That would not have happened if I was not willing to have difficult conversations. Building a business from the ground up also takes hard work and dedication to find solutions to problems.

Candidate: Kathleen Wright/Constitution Party

Location: Boiling Springs

Lived in District: 6 years

Age: 62

Occupation: Business owner of a property management company. Licensed property manager, CPM. 

Top issues: The citizens in the entire county are facing rapid growth in both residential and commercial properties. Population and expansion continue to grow at a pace never seen before. Many are concerned with the increase in both property and small business taxes and not enough representation by our local elected officials. There is also concern with the slow response in planning, which translates to “build it now, then fix the roads and deal with utilities later.” Not only are the roads and bridges dealing with congested traffic, but are poorly maintained. There are also the poor conditions of road signs along the highways, overpasses, and secondary roads. The surrounding counties in SC and NC have much better roadside appearances than Spartanburg County.

Plans if elected: My plans are to tackle these issues with fresh eyes and a different perspective than what has been in place for some time. To approve and request more diversity on the boards and committees so that the same individuals are not in place for decades and serving on several boards and committees simultaneously. Where growth is highly welcomed, there are better ways to accommodate this challenge without major disruptions to the residents. Growing pains are not 100 percent avoidable, however, strategic, proactive planning for the district will make it easier and better for all, while keeping our Southern values in place.

Why should residents vote for me? I have a transparent agenda for the district in which I reside. I will do my best to set forth the goals I have listed. I will ensure the need for responsibility with checks and balances in spending and handling of funds in all areas. With my profession as a local business owner, I travel throughout the upstate and see all the challenges our county faces as compared to other areas.

*Wright filed as an unopposed Constitution Party candidate and will face the Republican winner in the Nov. 8 general election.

District 6 (Republican primary contested)

Candidate: Jessica Coker/Republican (incumbent) 

Location: Roebuck

Age: 34

Occupation: CPA

Top issues: We absolutely must prioritize fixing our roads. We need to support small businesses in our policies. We need to focus on planning and the future by providing quality and efficient services for our community as we improve infrastructure. We need to do better in supporting public safety; that includes police, fire, emergency response and the court system.

What are your plans if you were elected? I have several plans in the the works to support small businesses. I am working with OneSpartanburg to develop a small business task force to assess needs and create action around our small businesses. I have several other plans in the exploratory stage that are more technical but will help streamline services and make it easier for small businesses to operate in Spartanburg County. If elected, I will continue those efforts. I will continue to strengthen our budgeting process with my financial services career background. I aim to make Spartanburg more efficient by increasing our capacity to utilize technology and provide a taxpayer driven county. I will continue to fight for taxpayers. I am confident, if re-elected, we can find a long-term solutions to fix our roads and strengthen our infrastructure.

Why should residents vote for you? I fight for taxpayers. I have the professional experience and resume to be an advocate for my constituents. I have proven over the last year that I can do the job and do it well. I have learned so much and I have several plans in the works and I need more time to see those come to fruition to support small businesses, get our roads fixed and be more efficient in our ability to provide services as a county. Spartanburg County is the best place in the country to work, live and play and I will keep it that way.

Candidate: Alex Turner/Republican 

Location: Fairforest

Age: 42 

Occupation: Businessman/contractor

Top issues: The lack of planning for our infrastructure has left our county in sad state of disrepair. I will fix this through a long range plan to upgrade roads, bridges, and other infrastructure

Traffic has increased exponentially because council has allowed unplanned growth.

First. New businesses are given a 4.5% tax break at the expense of other local businesses paying 10.5% tax. This is not just. New businesses get to use our infrastructure at a discount to expense of other taxpayers. I want to explore the options to see how much would be generated if all businesses pay the same rate. 

Second. The lack of development planning for subdivisions has allowed more traffic on the same old roads. Roads should be upgraded to maintain residence quality of life and safety in their travels. County Council brags that 19 people a day are coming to Spartanburg but what is beginning done to alleviate congestion and upgrade the infrastructure to handle these people? 

Third. There has been very little thought to our other infrastructure. Our landfill is filling up quicker because of the massive influx of people and businesses and because of the uncontrolled growth. There are only two sites left in the county that could provide for a future landfill. If there was a plan in place that land would be bought already. Other issues that are needed are affordable internet to all, (no dead zones), grocery stores and like services near huge apartment/subdivisions complexes, and many more. 

What are your plans if you were elected? First priority is to bring every county road and bridge up to current SCDOT standards through implementation of a five-year plan and then two long-range plans. One 10-year and the other a 50-year plan which will address larger problems like distribution of industries and homes with grocery and services. The current county plan is inventory each road and the ones with the lowest score and most traffic get paved. This is like driving my truck till everything quits and then picking one thing to fix. There is no long-range plan to effect substantial change to our roads.

Why should residents vote for you? I do what I say I’m going to do; my yes is yes and my no is no. When I say I will do everything in my power to fix our roads I mean exactly that. I am a God-fearing family man who has dedicated my life to helping and protecting others through service in my church, volunteer fire department and many other nonprofits. 

District 5 (Republican primary contested)

Candidate: Bob Walker/Republican (incumbent) 

Location: Landrum

Age: 79

Occupation: Insurance/consultant

Top issues:  The dramatic increase in the growth of business and population in Spartanburg County in the last ten years has created many challenges that must be addressed:

• The current poor condition of our roads, bridges, and infrastructure

• The education of our workforce to meet the requirements of the new industries

• The need for more first responders – law enforcement, firefighters, EMS – and increased compensation for these first responders

• The need for broadband/internet service in the rural areas of our county

• The need to work with the General Assembly to reduce property taxes for our citizens and businesses.

What are your plans if elected? I am not someone who just ‘goes along to get along’. I will tirelessly oppose the growth of government and vigorously advocate for conservative principles. I want to put what is best for the citizens of South Carolina first.

Why should residents vote for you? I have been an active member of Lions Clubs International since 1974. Their motto of “We Serve” has become the motto of my life. It has been my honor to serve in the military, on the Spartanburg County District One School Board, and in the S.C. House of Representatives. For the past 8 years, I have worked tirelessly as a Spartanburg County Councilman to provide the level of service that my constituents in District 5 deserve. Spartanburg County today faces more challenges than during any other period of time in my life. I am committed to focusing on our economy, our schools, and the needs of my constituents. When I am re-elected, I will continue to serve the people of Campobello, Gramling, Holly Springs, Inman, Landrum, Lyman, Motlow and all adjoining communities. The constituents of District 5 have elected me; therefore, they are my boss. I pledge to continue my proven record of constituent service by answering the calls that I receive, visiting the locations that are having difficulties, and continuing to provide assistance in each situation that I can. The most important part of my job as County Councilman is to listen and help the citizens of Spartanburg County with their concerns. Together we have accomplished much during my eight years of service on County Council. However, there is more work to be done, and together we will meet any challenges.

Candidate: Jeffrey A. Horton Jr./Republican

Location: Inman 

Lived in district: 6 years

Age: 36

Occupation: Insurance and investments. 

Top issues: Disregarding Federal issues, my constituents are facing issues of job creation, infrastructure and population growth. Financially, the county is in the best shape it’s ever been, so we need to take advantage of this and work on these issues before the next economic downturn. I want to be proactive in how I handle this, but also a steward of these funds.

What are your plans if you were elected? If I am elected, I need to immediately be immersed into any county issues, and be responsive to my constituents learning their concerns. I want to work with all utilities to make sure they are capable and ready to viably manage the growth we are experiencing. Also, I want to manage any reserves, and act as a fiduciary for my constituents.

It is imperative that County Council, residential and commercial developers, business investors and citizens work together to establish a long-range plan for our roads, bridges, and infrastructure. Our present system definitely must be updated. County Council must consider how each new development will affect the roads, bridges, and infrastructure. County Council must find a method of paying for these improvements that does not include new property taxes for the citizens of Spartanburg County. A one penny sales tax could be a solution if it is approved by a referendum from the citizens. County Council needs to continue to collaborate with the vocational schools and technical colleges to meet the education and training needed for workers at the new jobs that are coming to Spartanburg County. Trained first responders – law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS – are necessary for the safety of our citizens. County Council must support hiring more first responders and raising their salary.

Why should residents vote for you? Mr. Walker has done a great job over his career. I thank him for his loyal service. But, I have a vested interest in my district. I have a young family I intend on raising and educating in this district. I want to work with the School Board on any issues they may need addressed, as well as make sure the first responders have the resources they need to keep this district as safe as possible.

Candidate: Louis Nespeca Republican 

Location: Campobello

Occupation: Buyer

Top issues: The poor condition of our roads and the lack of planning to fix them. The constant expansion of Spartanburg County without the needed planning to make sure the local resources are not stressed to the breaking point. With all the new expansion I’m sure taxes will once again be raised. In 5-10 years when all these new roads require attention who and how will we fix them.

What are your plans if you were elected? I’m going to fight for the fixing of the roads and take a break from the expansion until we know our resources can handle it. I’ll try and postpone the tax hike that will come from this expansion.

Why should residents vote for you? 

I’m not a politician and I don’t plan to make it a second career. I will not benefit from this position except for the associated salary that comes with it. I love this area and I’m tired of seeing it be neglected. I will fight for the people in my district.

At large (unopposed) 

Candidate: Manning Lynch . 

Location: Spartanburg

Age: 65

Occupation: Home builder 

Top issues: Clearly the number one issue that we get feedback on is the condition of our road infrastructure. Spartanburg County is fortunate to be a growing community. With that growth comes a responsibility to address infrastructure needs. 

Number two would be the construction projects financed by the temporary 1-cent sales tax approved by the voters. Primary among these would be the new Spartanburg County Courthouse project that is well underway. In the next 18 months, we will be breaking ground on the new city-county administration building. 

Last, but certainly not least,  is the safety of our community. The operation of the Sheriff’s Office and the court system is always a high priority for our citizens. 

What are your plans if you were elected? My plans for County Council are the same as they were when I filed for the County Council Chairman job four years ago. I want to continue building on the success of Spartanburg County. From my viewpoint, that includes limited government interference. As for roads, we have budgeted about 80 million more dollars, in the past few years, than prior years, for our roads. I would like to see that trend continue while looking for other ways to fund road improvements.   

The courthouse project is moving along nicely and will remain very important. I intend to give a lot of attention to the planning, design, and upcoming construction of the city county building. We have the opportunity to create a new entrance from South Church Street into downtown Spartanburg. This can be a change that inspires community pride, encourages economic development and enhances the communities and businesses in that area.  

Finally, I will  continue working with Sheriff Wright to ensure that he has the necessary resources to keep Spartanburg citizens safe. 

Why should residents vote for you? These are some of the reasons why a vote for me would be a good decision: 

I have worked on building Spartanburg infrastructure for 30 years. I am knowledgeable about what it takes to envision, fund and build infrastructure.  This is of utmost importance when it comes to economic development. 

I was born and raised in Spartanburg.

I own and run and small business. I have done so successfully for 35 years. I know the struggles. Furthermore, I survived the crash in 2008 and the pandemic.   

I am an avid cyclist and I value and support a robust trail system in Spartanburg. 

Other Spartanburg County offices (All unopposed)

Auditor: Sharon H. West/Republican (incumbent) 

Probate Judge: Ponda A Caldwell/Republican (incumbent) 

Treasurer: Oren L Brady III/Republican (incumbent)

Contact Bob Montgomery at bob.montgomery@shj.com. Please support our coverage of Spartanburg County with a digital subscription.

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