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Three seeking two seats on Camden City Council

Candidates include former mayor Jeffrey Graham

Posted: July 24, 2014 4:50 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Jeffrey R. Graham, Deborah H. Davis and Bob Williams are the three names city of Camden voters will see on November ballots as they try to fill two open seats on Camden City Council.

Earlier this year, councilmen Walter Long and Willard Polk announced they would not seek reelection to council. Theirs are the only seats up for grabs this year.

Graham served as Camden’s most recent mayor, serving for one term from 2008 to 2010. He lost a reelection bid to current Mayor Tony Scully. He said he is running for a return to council as a regular member because of a continued desire to serve.

“I have a desire to serve my hometown as a businessman, community volunteer and activist,” Graham said. “I will take the knowledge and information I have and bring it (back) to council.”

He said improving infrastructure, the job market and the community as a whole are among the same issues he focused on while mayor.

“We need leaders who are involved in the community. I have a desire in my heart to make Camden a stronger, better place. I want to make Camden a destination not just for travelers, but a place to live, work and play.”

Graham said he would not have run again if either Long or Polk were running for reelection.

“These are open seats; I’m not running against any incumbents,” he said.

Council recently reappointed Davis to the Camden Parks and Trees Commission with a term to expire on May 31, 2017. She has served as the commission’s chairperson for four years. Davis acknowledged she would have to step down from the commission if elected. She is also the manager of the Habitat ReStore. Davis said she was approached to run for council, that doing so would be “a nice learning curve,” and listed out some of the issues she is looking to focus on.

“I want to be a conscientious constable of our tax dollars,” Davis said. “I want us to get the most bang for the buck.”

She said she “definitely” wants to promote tourism and bring more businesses and people to work and live here.

“I want to make Camden a great place to bring their businesses and to live in … one of the best spots for people to work live and raise a family,” she said. “I also want the county and city to work together more on building and growing jobs.”

Davis said she also wants to focus on promoting Camden’s history.

“I think we are the heart of South Carolina,” she said.

She also said that her background as an educator (teaching at Joseph Kershaw Academy) and sales and marketing experience gives her needed people skills to work with others.

Born on Long Island, N.Y., but raised in Columbia, Davis said she moved away from the Midlands for business reasons and return to live in Camden after many years. She explained why she fell in love with the city.

“Not long after we moved here … our house burned down and I was amazed at the number of people that came and helped us -- people we didn’t even know -- who came to our aid. That’s why I love Camden,” Davis said.

Williams is the owner of Bob Williams Auto Body on Wylie Street. He said he first thought of running a few years ago during when the community was divided over the prospect of building a possibly YMCA-managed sports complex on city-owned property on Campbell Street.

“That was a bad time, but it was a good things in terms of people getting involved,” Williams explained. “It’s important that people get involved, and I think I can facilitate that. A lot of people have good ideas. You’re more likely to get a good idea the more you listen.”

Williams described himself as someone who has the ability to listen while talking to people. He said he especially wants to pay attention to those who own or manage businesses in Camden but don’t necessarily live inside the city limits.

“There are a lot of business owners who don’t live in -- and don’t vote in -- Camden. I think I can be a good go-between with businesses and government. There comes a point where you have to step up and see if you have something to offer,” he said.

Williams also said he wants to see a better collaboration between the city and county governments on issues such as transportation, recreation, downtown development and job creation.

“You have more resources as a group than you do individually,” said Williams, who said he was born and raised in Camden and returned to the city after attending Spartanburg Methodist College.

According to Camden Clerk of Council Brenda Davis, three other people submitted statements of intent to be candidates, but did not turn in petition sheets with signatures of 5 percent of the city’s registered voters by a July 15 deadline. They were H. W. “Bill” Funderburk Jr., Robert Burch and Don F. Spivey.

Graham, Davis and Williams will all be on city ballots during the general election on November 4.

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