Wow. Has it really been four years? I know it sounds cliché, but time has really flown. I just looked at the email I sent four years ago announcing that I was running for Mauldin City Council and “how I got from Point A to Point B” in terms of that decision to run.
After I announced my candidacy four years ago, I got a call from the mayor inviting me to lunch and will never forget how that conversation started. “Taft,” he said, “when somebody announces they’re running for council, I like to sit down with them and see where their head’s at. I want to know why they’re running.”I told him the same thing I told people as I knocked on doors.
I wanted to focus on economic development, public safety, and recreation. I told him, “Those are the areas I know, and those are the areas I can have the biggest influence.” He nodded and said if I got elected, those would be the committees he’d assign me to serve. He kept his word.
From a recreation standpoint, we expanded youth programming with new sports and reenergized our focus on existing sports – increasing registration numbers across the board. Without using any general fund revenues or property tax money, we purchased 17.5 acres of land adjacent to Sunset park with the idea of expanding field space, increasing parking, and bolstering passive recreation options.
In terms of public safety, we renewed the international accreditation of our police department (and are beginning to go through that process again this month). We also increased the numbers of officers through local funds and federal grants. In the fire department, we added opportunities for training and professional development and implemented a program to increase EMT capabilities to address the growing number of medical calls where firefighters arrive on scene before EMS.
Regarding economic development, it’s tough to even know where to begin. We created the Community Development Department so Mauldin could market itself instead of relying on outside groups to recruit new business. We added nearly 2000 jobs as we recruited new companies and helped existing companies expand. Just weeks after announcing one transformative development (CenterPointe), we’re now accepting Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) for a master developer to work with the city and revitalize the downtown area. With various concerts and events, we’re turning the Mauldin Cultural Center in to a real destination, rather than it just being seen as “the old elementary school.”
We’re making the kind of progress I said four years ago that I wanted to be a part of.
People often ask, “Are you enjoying your time on council?” Usually I respond with something along the lines of, “It’s not about the enjoyment. It’s about serving the community where I grew up and helping to make it better so my son will look at Mauldin as an option when he has a family of his own.” I know some people will see that as a hokey response, but it’s 100% true.
I really DO feel that way, but as I sat down to write this four-year look-back and put on paper some of the things we’ve accomplished and that I had a hand in either as a committee member or a committee chair, I need to edit my original response because I do enjoy my service.
I enjoy helping people solve problems where I can. I enjoy watching a kid score a goal in our rec lacrosse program that is only three years old but is already regionally competitive. I enjoy working with our public safety professionals to help ensure that our friends and neighbors stay safe. I enjoy working with businesses and developers to help create an environment that makes them want to plant their flags and grow their businesses.
I’m excited with what we’ve done over the last four years, and I’m running again to see what we can accomplish over the next four. There is still so much we can do to make Mauldin better, and I’m grateful to everyone who has played a part on everything we’ve done so far. Let’s see what’s next. Time flies when you’re having fun.
— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.♦