RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — Richland County is holding a special election on September 8 for the district 9 seat on county council.
On Friday, August 7th, County councilman Calvin "Chip" Jackson passed away.
Jackson represented District 9, a region in northeast Richland County that borders Kershaw County. He was first elected to that post in November of 2016.
Following Jackson's death, the Richland County Election Commission announced a a special election to nominate a new candidate for that seat.
News 19 reached out to candidates running for the District Nine seat to ask about challenges in the district what their vision is for Richland County.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Richland County residents today?
Jesica Mackey: "District residents in District Nine, a lot of the biggest problems that we're hearing when talking to residents and I'm hearing is our roads. District Nine is growing. There's a lot of new subdivisions coming into the district and with that comes the need for improving the roads and widening the roads. The infrastructure projects are key. Also small businesses and the economic development in this area and managing the effects of COVID-19 and how that impacts our vulnerable population as well businesses."
Jonneika Farr: "For us in this area, you will hear people talk about our roads. We've been dealing with issues with our roads for quite some time. For those of us in this area, Hardscrabble is an issue and it's been described as a headache. People will take the workaround to not have to travel on Hardscrabble Road. We understand right now that Hardscrabble Road, that project is number one on the list when it comes to those Penny Tax projects. I am excited and happy to know that in 2021, that will be completed. So that's an issue for us. And also getting through COVID-19 right now. People are dealing with issues surrounding that. Our children are being schooled at home. We have some issues concerning that parents not sure of their job and employment and so that's an issue as well."
If you are the next county councilperson elected to Richland County, what do you have as your vision?
Jesica Mackey: "If elected, I definitely want to focus on moving District Nine forward and focusing on the issues that really are impacting our residence. Being accessible to residence in District Nine and making sure that county council, that we're bring those issues to the table. Again, infrastructure, improving our roads, planning for the growth in our community, making sure that residence here have a true quality of life experience and also making sure everyone is safe."
Jonneika Farr: "I see a county where we are united and working together beyond party lines. I think about a quote by the late honorable Elijah Cummings, Congressman Elijah Cummings, where he states that, 'Diversity is not our problem, it's our promise.' And so I believe we need to embrace that and I know people are embracing that, but we want to take that further to where we understand and respect one another and work together to be stronger here in Richland County."
Why are you the right candidate for District Nine?
Jesica Mackey: "District Nine right now, as I said, is going through growth and I have over fifteen years of experience working with local businesses, working with local government, as well as large road projects. This experience allows me to come in on Day One and hit the ground running and truly represent the interest of District Nine residents. Right now, District Nine needs leadership on county council that can help lead us forward with true integrity as well as trust and transparency. And so tomorrow, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I'm asking for voters to come out and cast their vote for Jesica Mackey to help lead District Nine forward."
Jonneika Farr: "We launched our campaign on January 16th and we launched our campaign because we understood that politics as usual was not working for us and so we stepped out because people were filling that there were issues and concerns that weren't being addressed. And so we decided to be, as people say, the change that we were seeking. When we talked about focusing on our roads, people were concerned about our roads, embracing and supporting small businesses, we understand that for every dollar that is spent at a small business, .67 cents of that dollar remains in the community. Not only do they support our communities and create jobs, but they foster community engagement. And that's another one of our platforms where we believe in knowing our neighbors and taking that to knowing who are neighbors are. We talk about community engagement. That's what we know. That's what we are embracing. Community engagement, knowing our neighbors, because when we know our neighbors, not only does that increase our safety, but it builds trust. And so that's important when we talk about community engagement. Then we talk about youth engagement and how our youth should be more engaged in our communities. Right now South Carolina ranks ninth when it comes to juvenile arrests. So we felt the time for us to tackle that issue was now. We believe that if we employ our faith-based organizations, our community organizations, to create volunteer opportunities, as well as alternative programming for our youth. That will ensure that our youth are more engaged and when we ask our youth to step up to the plate, not only will they step up to the plate, but they're waiting for us to ask. And when we do that, we let them know that they are holding the key to our future endeavors and that builds them up and lays the ground work for our future tomorrows. So might thoughts are to create a youth commission on county council where are youth will have their own commission and voice their concerns in a space that we can hear on county council. The youth and our engagement is an important part of our platform. And then of course, when we talk about infrastructure and our roads, it's more than just sewer. It's also broadband. We need to make sure that everyone has excess to Wi-Fi and broadband, especially now with our children being home and schooled at home. And it's not by choice for the majority of us. It's for their safety. So we have to make sure that we have access for broadband and Wi-Fi for everyone in Richland County. But when we talk about all of those issues, tackling our roads and small businesses, being engaged in our communities, our safety, making sure that our roads and infrastructure is taken care of and getting through COVID-19 together. Again, we talk about that not politics as usual and how we launched our campaign on January 16th. All of those issues will be tackled through a lens of compassion, love and service. That's what makes us different. And that's why I am in the race. I made it to the run-off on June 23rd. We were a 157 votes short. So I want to make sure that people know that I ran a campaign and that we came that close and unfortunately our councilman passed away and so here we are now and we want to make sure that they know that the person they were fighting for back on June 23rd, is here to represent them to bring that different choice and a different voice to unite us together. That's why I'm your candidate to vote for tomorrow and September the 8th in the special election."
News 19 reached out to Cody Pressley and Angela Gary Addison for interviews but they were unavailable at this time.