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Saluda native has high hopes for town's future after winning mayoral race

Councilman Matthews beats the incumbent to become Saluda's next mayor.

SALUDA, S.C. — After a tie, a recount and runoff election, Saluda is welcoming a new mayor.

Wednesday has been a day of celebration and a day full of congratulations according to Saluda's new mayor elect, Miliken Matthews. 

Matthews is a Saluda native and current Ward 1 councilman. 

On Tuesday he beat incumbent mayor Amelia Herlong. He says growing up in Saluda, he never expected he'd become mayor. Through his time as an elected official, he saw first hand how he could help the town develop.

"First thing we need to do is embrace who we are," he explains, "we as whole can decide what we need to do moving forward. I don't think that's a one man decision. That's why I'm stressing that the community has to be actively involved in anything that we want to do."

During his interview with News19, Matthews mentioned that it's important to have a community that is actively involved with the city leaders. 

He says this will allow everyone's voice to be heard and address issues as they come. He adds by filling vacant buildings is crucial to bringing new businesses downtown and bolstering the economy.

"We have to beautify our downtown are, make it a beautiful place, make it a location. Let's get some foot traffic through there."

One of the businesses downtown is Purple and White Traditions. Owner Noel Burnett says her business relies heavily on that foot traffic so having new shops in those vacant buildings will help.

"We have a lot of vacant buildings here, if we can bring people in, I think our town could grow." She remembers a time where the vast majority of businesses were open and thriving," I would like to see the town as it was in the 80s and 90s, " she says. 

Since Matthews is currently serving as a council member, his seat will be vacant he is sworn in, in January. 

The county's elections office tells News19 there will be a special election fbut no date has been set for that yet.

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