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Gary’s KCC tenure comes to a close

Posted: December 21, 2012 5:47 p.m.
Updated: December 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.
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Bobby Gary

Bobby Gary concluded his final meeting as a member of Kershaw County Council Dec. 12 surrounded by a round of applause and a resolution honoring his service.

After hearing praise from his colleagues, Gary said it was a “true honor” to serve on council.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve pushed through and moved forward as a county council,” he said, noting all the elected officials he’s served with since being elected in 2008.

The resolution approved by council described him as a tireless advocate for “those less fortunate” and a “community advocate for the betterment of Kershaw County.”        

Council Chairman Wise designated Gary as the “conscience of county council.”

“I’ll be looking at the budget at certain line items and Bobby will say ‘well what about the hungry, what about the homeless?’ He grounds me. He brings me back to what’s important here,” Wise said. “I really appreciate what all he’s done here for all the folks here in Kershaw County.”

Councilman Stephen Smoak also thanked Gary for his service, saying he has worked “vigorously” for the entire county.

“I think we can say without a doubt that Councilman Gary’s heart has always been in the right place as to the causes that he’s stood for during the past four years,” Smoak said.  

Speaking after the Dec. 12 meeting, Gary said he hopes he’s remembered for his approach on council.

“If you’re going to disagree, let’s hash it out and then let’s move forward,” he said, referring to how he liked to operate. “Don’t get too involved in the political side of being a representative. Don’t be puffed up on yourself because you really need to be serving the people.”

After serving on council for four years, he said was able to at least move the needle on most of his objectives.

“I think I sowed a lot of seeds and brought some ideas that have blossomed and will continue to blossom within council and the community,” he said.

Gary said one of the major initiatives he helped pass was the repeal of the county’s “blue laws.”

In Nov. 2010, voters approved a measure lifting the restrictions, which allowed business owners in Kershaw County to open before 1:30 p.m. on Sunday and sell a wider variety of products, excluding alcohol.

“You can buy clothes now on a Sunday morning, you couldn’t do that before. So I think it had a tremendous impact,” Gary said. “If you work the third shift and you get off at midnight Saturday night, for instance, you can go ahead and shop.”

However, he wished a penny sales tax plan he supported had been approved and implemented. The proposal would have initiated a number of capital projects throughout the county.   

Gary said the issue became “over-politicized,” which ultimately lead to it being rejected by voters during the 2010 general election.

“We didn’t get down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ of it,” he said, explaining he felt some individuals also didn’t rally around the idea because of the number and variety of projects.

Council reintroduced the proposal in July, eventually tabling second reading of the plan. Doing so essentially killed the plan, pushing too deep into a timetable for approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Gary will be replaced on council by petition candidate Willie Mickle, who will begin serving during council’s Jan. 8 meeting.

He offered “well wishes” to Mickle and said he would continue to look for opportunities to serve.

“I was really looking for a call from Gov. Haley to replace Jim DeMint,” Gary said with a laugh, noting the recently vacated seat of the twice-elected S.C. senator. “Seriously though, I consider myself a servant of my community regardless of what role I’m in. My motto was and still is ‘here to serve.’”

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