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Jim Steele announces candidacy for KCC District 6

Posted: September 28, 2017 4:38 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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Jim Steele

Jim Steele has announced his intention to run for Kershaw County Council District 6.

The seat, which comes up for re-election in 2018, is currently held by Tom Gardner.

Steele, who lives in Cassatt, said he is a conservative Republican interested in only working to ensure that county government operates as efficiently, transparently and unobtrusively as possible for the citizens of Kershaw County.  

“I have no personal agenda,” he said. “I am only interested in working to help ensure that county government operates as it is supposed to.     

I am not a business owner or big landowner. I’m just someone who has made this place my home and I love my home and want it to be the best it can for everyone who calls it home.”

Steele, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, worked as a defense contractor for a number of years, including six years with the Department of the Army. Happily retired, he said he is not seeking a new career, in politics or otherwise. Nonetheless, as he is one who prefers action to words, he has chosen to run for county council because he is dissatisfied with how the county government is currently operating -- and he is not alone, he says.

“I’ve been talking with a lot of folks -- it seems like they’re not satisfied with the way the county is being run, particularly in the last couple of years. County council, for example, has tried to pass ordinances that many see as trampling on property rights,” he said, referring to several failed ordinances such as a proposal earlier this year to establish a nuisance property ordinance in the county. “The county needs to be much less intrusive -- there are things they need to do but there are also things they need to stay out of.”

Steele said he has several areas of concern, starting with fiscal responsibility.

“They say they have a balanced budget -- then they raise rates and taxes,” he said. “They raised the sewer rate 45 percent, yet most people in my part of the county don’t have sewer service and will probably never have sewer service. This year, we got a 5.1 mill tax increase. I don’t know how you can say you have a balanced budget when you have to raise taxes to balance it.”

Steele said he believes there are ways to save money, particularly in the county’s procurement policies.

He also said he is a strong proponent of government responsiveness and transparency and will work to make improvements in that area. He said he believes the county is making efforts to provide more information to the public via the county website and other avenues, but there is always room for improvement and such efforts need to be given top priority.

Steele said the county needs to be more responsive to the public. For example, current county council meetings allow for a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, however, it only currently allows for people to address concerns to the council; it does not allow for interaction.

“I would suggest having a period of time at the end of the meeting as well -- very often questions arise during these discussions, but you don’t have a chance to ask them until the next meeting. They ought to be able to do that, and they ought to be able to tell people ‘we will have an answer to that at the next meeting’ or some clearly prescribed time frame.”

At the individual level, Steele said he believes each councilmember should hold town hall style public meetings regularly within their districts so as to get a better feel for constituent concerns.

“If I’m elected, I plan to do that at least every two months at different locations throughout the district,” he said. 

At the personal level, Steele said he is a quick learner and a responsive, collaborative person. However, he sees his role on council first and foremost as a representative of the will of the people. He would be there to help make decisions and do what is best for all, but those decisions will have to ultimately reflect the actual will of the people, he said.

“I (also) work well with others,” he said. “If you have a good idea, I’ll be very quick to get behind it. But I’ll also be very quick to oppose an idea I don’t think is good.”

This also goes for the election itself; he is not looking to get into politics and if he is not elected, he will simply assume that the people are, in fact, satisfied with their representative and the county, he said.

“I only intend to run one time,” he said. “If the people are satisfied with their current representative on council, that’s fine. If they are not, and they want to have a chance to try to make a change, then they should vote for me.”

For more information contact Jim Steele at (803) 432-3869, (803) 729-5738 or email jimsteele2018@gmail.com.

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