Newberry County Council District 5 — Harriett Rucker and Les Hipp


Hipp


Rucker


Name: Harriett Rucker

Age: 72

Party: Democrat

1. In your opinion, how are Newberry County tax dollars best spent?

Newberry County must use its funds to maintain the property and equipment it presently owns in order to reduce the catastrophic cost brought on by neglect. Secondly, the county must make sure that its employees are paid a fair wage for their work and avoid excessive increases in administrative salaries. Next, it must make sure that it adequately funds training and equipment for our first responders to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens and their property. The county must continue reaching out to attract good paying jobs for our citizens accommodating to the extent possible existing businesses to keep them in the county. Finally, the county should develop recreational areas in and around our communities to help improve the quality and enjoyment of life for our people.

2. In what ways can Newberry County Council attract new business to the county?

One of the most pressing questions that industries ask of a local areas when they are anticipating locating is do you have a work force in your area that is capable of performing the work we require. For Newberry to benefit the most, it needs to have well trained workers available in the county rather than have them commute in and out of Newberry taking their earnings with them to spend in other counties. For this reason, workings closely with Piedmont Tech is an absolute necessity. Of course having readily available tracts on which to construct facilities is an advantage and the willingness of county government to work constructively with the prospective industry fully utilizing all assets and incentives of local government as well as of state government and other interested parties in providing for the needs of the prospective industry. Much that is said about attracting industry also applies in keeping existing industry.

3. What will be your number one priority during the next four year on Council?

Creating an environment between the public, county council, county administration, and elected officials of respect for each other which allows for free flowing of ideas and opinions without the acrimony which county council and the administration at times exhibits toward our elected officials and the public. At times it appear that they forget they are public servants in the employ of the citizens of our county. We must all work together to make our county better and improve the lives of our citizens.

4. On a scale of one to ten, how important are this year’s CPST projects? If this year’s referendum does not pass, what will be your stand point on the projects that have to be funded?

It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to rank the importance of the various projects from one to ten without having heard the arguments for and against thesis proposals and others that were presented. Some stand out as necessities that will need to be funded even if the CPST is not successful. I am hopeful, however, for the passage of the CPST and encourage our citizens to support its passage.

5. In your opinion, what makes you more qualified for this position than your opponent?

My experience in working with others in various managerial positions dealing with at times complex issues. This experience teaches that you must be considerate of all people and listen to their ideas and opinions. This is where ideas come from that make the world and Newberry County a better place to live, work, and play. You cannot accomplish much with the attitude that you have all the answers. None of us do. We have to work together. All of us in public service or those of us seeking to serve must always keep in mind that we are public servants. I’ll be a public servant.

Name: Leslie “Les” Hipp

Age: 65

Party: Republican

1. In your opinion, how are Newberry County tax dollars best spent?

Newberry County tax dollars must be spent wisely. Some of the most important decisions we make on Council involve what NOT to spend money on. And that resistance to spending money unnecessarily has enabled us to reduce the property taxes under County Council’s control during my term in office.

Needs such as Emergency Services and Law Enforcement are high priority items and must be adequately funded. The most important thing we do as county council is to protect lives and property of our citizens.

Obviously, Education is a priority but those taxes are imposed by the School Board and expended by them. Our citizens still struggle under the high school taxes imposed during my opponent’s tenure on the School Board. That increase in School taxes still makes it difficult to recruit industry and is a burden on homeowners and businesses. County Council was able to expand the Piedmont Tech campus without a tax increase but the funding for that project was not under control of the School board.

The cost of services that the County provides does not decrease over time, so in order to maintain and improve services; the county must obtain funding from tax revenues. Industries and private homeowners are two sources of revenue. We need to expand our tax base through industrial expansion in order to reduce the current tax burden on homeowners. Therefore in order to obtain the necessary funds Economic Development must be a high priority. But even Economic Development has costs associated with it. County Council has worked with many outside government agencies and corporations to acquire much of the funding required for implementation of our economic development plans.

2. In what ways can Newberry County Council attract new business to the county?

The County hired a new economic development director a year ago and he has a history of working with existing industry. He moved his family into the county and immediately began to actively develop a plan for economic development and to establish relationships with our existing industries. We have had significant recent reinvestments by existing industries such as Kiswire, and West Fraser. And we have had new industries such as Sea Pro locate here. Also we have had local grown industries such as Metal Masters who have expanded in our county. Unfortunately, Caterpillar has announced that they will be leaving Newberry. Our Economic Development Director met with representatives of Caterpillar to determine if there was anything the County to do in terms of tax incentives to keep them from leaving the county. Unfortunately, the decision to move from Newberry is part of an international corporate decision by Cat to close and consolidate operations and downsize. Our Economic Development office is currently working to provide job opportunities for the displaced workers.

We have been able to get corporate contributions to fund improvements in the Midcarolina Commerce Park (MCCP) and for costs to assemble a Mega site. The County has established a good professional relationship with The South Carolina Secretary of Commerce and his staff. He and his staff are actively marketing our Mega Site for an automotive or similar very large industry; and they are helping fund and market the MCCP. The funding for improvements in the MCCP has been largely provided by grants. Improvements to the MCCP could have been made earlier but would have necessitated increasing tax or incurring more debt. That would have been a return to the tax or borrow practices of the past.

3. What will be your number one priority during the next four year on Council?

My number one priority for the next four years will be to provide the best constituent service possible. Newberry is my home county and I want to improve it for now and for future generations. But how is that done? First, I will continue to use local media to promote my accessibility to citizens who have problems or issues dealing with County Government. This is a job that cannot be effectively performed without the combined efforts of County Administration, fellow council members and input from the public.

Secondly, I will use my Economic Development training to work with the County Administration to grow our industrial tax base as described above. We need more high paying jobs for our citizens and their children.

4. On a scale of one to ten, how important are this year’s CPST projects? If this year’s referendum does not pass, what will be your stand point on the projects that have to be funded?

I really want to thank the Commission whose job it was to select the final projects. They had to choose from a long list of good projects but they had to limit the projects to the amount of funding that will be available. They did an admirable job of selecting projects that will benefit many communities through out the county. On a scale of one to ten, I would rank some projects lower; others would be ranked near 10. But we don’t get to pick and choose our favorites; it’s all or nothing. Emergency Services, including Law Enforcement, EMS, HAZMAT, are in need of a new radio system and The SC Corrections Department has identified certain improvements that must be made in order to continue to utilize the Newberry County Detention facility. Funding for these will be required whether by property tax or the CPST. As a member of County Council, I am limited by state law from actively promoting the CPST, but I can assure the citizens of the county that they should not let their lack of support for a few projects prevent them from voting in favor of the total referendum.

5. In your opinion, what makes you more qualified for this position than your opponent?

I am more qualified because I have the experience and training and Economic Development relationships to further improve our already wonderful county. I demonstrated my work ethic when I attended Council meetings for years before deciding to run for this office the first time. I study issues and gather as much information as possible before voting on an issue. I feel that decisions that may affect our County for decades should be made based on careful examination of the facts and that is where my engineering background helps me. As a member of council, I have completed both levels of training offered by the SC Institute for elected officials. I attended and graduated from the SC Economic Development Institute, not because I was required to but because it would prepare me to further Newberry County’s economic development plans. My opponent has not demonstrated enough interest in county government to attend a Council meeting or Economic Development Committee meeting even though they are open to anyone from the public. She says she is ready for making critical decisions affecting your future by reading some meeting minutes. That may have been sufficient when she was on the School Board but the County Council job requires much more energy and work than that.

Hipp
http://newberryobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_IMG_4702-1.jpgHipp

Rucker
http://newberryobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/web1_Rucker-1.jpgRucker
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