AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)– The race to be the most powerful man in the largest county in our area: The special election for Aiken County Council Chairman is less than a month away. Former Vice Chairman Gary Bunker, Interim Council Chair Andrew Siders and District four Councilman Chuck Smith are running to replace Ronnie Young, who vacated his seat to run for state house. The three squared off in a forum at St. Thaddeus in Downtown Aiken Monday night.
Gary Bunker, Andrew Siders, and Chuck Smith stood before nearly one hundred people from Aiken County for one reason Monday night: to convince the public that they are the best candidate to fill the Aiken County Council Chairman seat.
The Aiken Republican Party Chairman said the County Council Chairman sets the vision for county council.
“He’s going to be the one interacting with these big companies and bringing in the jobs and infrastructure yields and stuff like that. It’s an important role, and we want to make sure the voters have the best opportunity to pick the most qualified one in their minds,” Andrew O’Byrne, Aiken Republican Party Chairman, said.
I spoke with each of the candidates, and they shared what they can bring to make Aiken County a better place live.
“I think I need provide the fundamentals that focus on county government that is going to move us forward,” Gary Bunker, candidate, said.
“Well, I’m chairman as we speak, so I’m already doing what I say I’m going to do. We’re meeting with mall developers. We’re meeting with economic development folks that are wanting to come to the area, so I’m already doing what I really want to do, and I want to continue to do that and re-double our efforts,” Andrew Siders, candidate, said.
“Experience, a business background of 25 years. Conservative, growth-oriented, trying to create opportunity for the county; You have to do that by going out and asking for it,” Chuck Smith, candidate, said.
Hot topics in Monday night’s discussion were infrastructure, economic growth and development and budgets.
“We have to protect the things that we have, but we need to work with our economic developers and create a wish list of the things we want,” Siders said.
“One issue is we’re not giving our employees raises because we’re so tight, yet we’re granting money to other agencies so they can give their employees raises. Now that doesn’t seem very equitable to me,” Bunker said.
Smith said only 10% of the Aiken County population votes. He said that needs to change.
“It’s important that everyone comes out and votes, you know. We have very little turnout in our voter records right now,” Smith said.
On August 22nd– you have a choice. Go out and vote, and let your voice be heard.