Politics, Simpsonville

Letter to the Editor

Honored to run for Mayor – By Paul Shewmaker

Paul Shewmaker

We live in a great town. You would be hard-pressed to find somebody who doesn’t like living here. That said, I do think leadership at City Hall can do a better job of keeping Simpsonville great. I am honored to be asked to run for the office of Mayor of Simpsonville but I’m not looking to become a career politician. In fact I don’t know the first thing about campaigning. I feel called out of a sense of civic duty and let me tell you why. Now, I’ve been watching city council for a long time. The first time I spoke in front of council (decades ago) was in objection to a hefty tax increase. They passed it anyway.

Today I see a gap in two places that are significant for us as citizens of the city. Poor communication and lack of civility. It’s very difficult to figure out what business the city council is conducting every month. They publish minutes like they’re supposed to by condensing a long meeting to just a single page. Sure, an audio file is posted online, but if you’re looking for something specific, good luck wading through all those recordings. And minutes for the Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission, etc. don’t seem to be posted at all. Remember, this is for records made after the fact. Try to find out what is happening in advance of a decisive vote and you’ll be frustrated. This is how we end up with new apartment complexes being approved on the busiest streets in town. Do we really need to add more traffic on Fairview or SE Main Street?

That’s not a rhetorical question, it’s a question that we the people should have a better chance to weigh in about. You should be able to find extensive information well in advance of these meetings. Now some may say we’re well represented by the people appointed to these boards and commissions. Maybe. I find it curious that a number of people sitting on these panels are family members of the people elected to represent us, or worse, not even residents of Simpsonville.

Let’s talk about civility for a moment. Civil discourse is a basic part of society and a code of conduct is plainly spelled out for City Council in the Code of Ordinances. If you don’t know why I bring this up, you’re lucky. But for the people on the receiving end it has been miserable. Most of the time it matters little. It’s not good to offend folks on a regular basis but that’s not the big thing I’m talking about. When people are pushed to the point of having to file suit against council members or the mayor it’s too far.

Do you see why I feel called to run for office? I can represent you better. I can communicate better. It’s time for Simpsonville to do things right. I promise to do the right thing.

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