Traffic concerns and controlling growth are key issues for the two candidates running for Elgin mayor.
The Feb. 6 election pits former Elgin mayor and Town Council member Pete James against current Elgin council member Melissa Emmons.
“I predicted all this growth in 1983 when I was mayor,” said James, 72. “I could foresee all of this and all the problems that were coming as far as the roads.”
James, who said he’s running again because he wants to help solve some key town issues, said Elgin needs to work with the Department of Transportation on increasingly congested roads.
“I don’t want to see us get choked down like Harbison,” he said. “We depend on DOT for our streets because our municipalities are small, but I’ll continue to study the roads and do what I can do with the town’s limited resources.”
Emmons, 40, who was elected to council in 2005, agreed that traffic needs to be addressed.
“I would love to see Elgin with at least a median or turning lane starting from IGA going all the way to the bridge (spanning town limits),” she said. “That should help the traffic situation.”
Emmons said she sees a lot of potential in the growing town.
“We’ve got an opportunity to do a lot for the people of Elgin,” she said. “If we just take the time and listen to the townspeople, Elgin can become a town people want to bring their families to.”
James said he’d like to travel to towns like Chapin and Blythewood that are experiencing similar growing pains to get options for Elgin.
“Other small towns are experiencing growth,” James said. “I want to go to those towns and talk to those people and see the problems they’ve faced and how they’ve dealt with them. I’d like to make something work here that worked there.”
Emmons also said the town should consider hiring an additional police officer, getting another fulltime county employee for the fire department and bringing Emergency Medical Services closer to Elgin.
“Our area is growing. We have more people and more businesses,” Emmons said. “But the crime rate is going to go up, and we’re going to have more accidents and more opportunities for fires. Because of that, we need to improve those services.”
The town also should annex properties into town limits, James said.
“Without annexation, the town will dry up,” he said. “Blythewood has annexed a lot, and when the people get older and children grow up, towns have to grow geographically to get more population.”
Emmons, has served as mayor pro tem since April.
Paul Grooms, Elgin mayor since 1994 and a council member for 11 additional years, is not running for re-election because of health problems.
The 77-year-old had a stroke in April. Emmons has served as mayor pro tem since that time. She said Grooms still attends and begins meetings but passes his duties on to Emmons.
In unopposed races for two available Elgin Town Council seats:
— * Brad Hanley, 57, is seeking reelection after serving on council since June 2004.
— * Jerry Jeffers, 54, is running for a vacant council seat.
Jeffers has no previous political experience but is a lifelong Elgin resident who said he would like to make Elgin even safer for the town’s children and change Elgin for the better as growth continues to encroach the town.
The mayor receives $200 per month, and council members receive $60 per month. The winners of the Feb. 6 election will be sworn in March 13.
Reach Riddle at (803) 771-8435.
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Age: 40 Education: Attended Midlands Tech and Francis Marion University Occupation: Bookkeeper at Blaney Elementary
Political experience: Elgin Town Council member since 2005 Community involvement: PTO treasurer, 2002-04, and president, 2004-06, at Blaney Elementary
Family: Husband, Clif; two daughters
Age: 72 Education: N/A Occupation: Retired from insurance agency after 33 years as a representative and manager Political experience: Elgin Town Council, 1975-1983; Elgin mayor, 1983-87 and 1991-94
Community involvement: Former Elgin Lions Club president, Former Catfish Stomp chairman Family: Wife, Sylvia; three daughters
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Elgin mayoral and Town
Council election Date: Feb. 6 Voting location: Elgin Town Hall
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 6 Who can vote: Residents who live within town limits must register by Friday to be eligible to vote. To register, go to the Kershaw County Government Center, 515 Walnut St. in Camden, or any county Department of Motor Vehicles branch.
Questions? Call Elgin Town Hall, (803) 438-2362, or the Kershaw County Government Center, (803) 425-1500.
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TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Two seats are available in the nonpartisan race
Age: 57 Education: Bachelor’s in management from the University of South Carolina
Occupation: Auditor Political experience: Elgin Town Council since June 2004
Community involvement: Institute of Management Accountants, Carolina Alumni Association
Family: Wife, Theresa; two children
Age: 54 Education: n/a Occupation: Quality technician at fabric manufacturing plant
Political experience: None Community involvement: Hardwick Chemical plant committee
Family: Wife, Sharon; one daughter
Caption: (1) by PHOTOGRAPHS BY GERRY MELENDEZ/GMELENDEZ@THESTATE.COM – Town Council member Melissa Emmons sees potential in growing Elgin. (2) – Former mayor Pete James is concerned about town’s growing pains.Memo: KERSHAW NEIGHBORS