Local, Mauldin, Politics

Special election for Council Seat 3 to be held

Candidates for Mauldin Council Seat 3

In the near future, a special election will be held to fill the position of Mauldin City Council Seat 3. Three candidates are competing for this position. The following is a compilation of information gleaned from interviewing the three contenders.

James Kennedy

Biography: Mr. Kennedy, now in his seventies, is a retired principal and professor of education at the University of South Carolina Spartanburg Campus. On occasion, he still substitutes as both a teacher and a principal as needed.

A graduate of Sanders High School, he received a Bachelor’s Degree from Chafin University and a Masters Degree from South Carolina State University. His many credentials include graduating from the Municipal School of Government Leadership of SC. He has a broad range of educational and political experience having served on a variety of committees and boards including: the Planning Commission Board in Mauldin SC, the Phyllis Wheatley Board in Greenville SC, the Minority Board at the University of South Carolina, the School Improvement Council for Golden Strip Career Center, the Task Force for Education for the State of SC. He has also served as an evaluator for the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

A resident of Mauldin ever since graduating from college, Mr. Kennedy is married to Angie Kirkland Kennedy and has one daughter, Yolanda McKinney. He is deeply involved at Mount Zion Baptist Church and serves as a trustee there.

Major Issues Confronting Mauldin: Mr. Kennedy says that traffic control is one of the major issues facing the city of Mauldin. In addition, he is deeply concerned about the drainage problems found throughout our city and says, “It’s terrible when it rains hard!”

Why Running: Mr. Kennedy believes that he still has much work to do on behalf of the citizens of Mauldin. His goals if elected include the following:
• Increase the commercial tax base. He would accomplish this by working with and attracting small businesses, particularly those that are family-owned and restaurants.
• Levy no new taxes. He says that he would scrutinize any new potential taxes or fees and find alternatives without adding new taxes.
• Improve community communication. He would make citizens aware of vital issues and needs of the city government. In addition, he wants to encourage Mauldin’s citizens to attend meetings and voice their concerns. His motto states, “An open mind, an open agenda, and an open door.”
• Develop a plan for flood zone areas in Mauldin.
• Improve traffic flow through Mauldin. He would encourage discussion sessions that include engineers and planners from state, county, and city levels.
• Implement plan for city beautification. This would involve adding sidewalks where applicable, improvements in street cleaning, picking up grass and limbs, installing underground power lines, and promoting establishment of family restaurants.

Why Best Candidate: In addition to the broad education and communication skills he would bring to the council, Mr. Kennedy says that his past service on the Mauldin City Council would be beneficial to the city because his learning curve would not be as steep as it would be for a newcomer. Also, he points to many accomplishments that occurred during his previous years of service on the council. Those accomplishments include: sports center for youth and adults, computerized service for garbage pick-up, ordinance to get old cars out of yards, international code for property clean up of overgrown grass in yards, amendment to the Noise Ordinance, annexed developments to expand tax base, and new Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday for city employees.

Jason Kraeling

Biography: Mr. Kraeling, a 49-year-old, has resided in upstate South Carolina for over 34 years and in Mauldin for 12 years. He worked his way through college, achieving a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University. During his 20 years of employment at General Electric, he has accrued extensive experience in project management, process improvement (Six Sigma Black Belt), codes and standards, product quality, team management, and environmental health and safety.

In the spring of 2008, Mr. Kraeling married; he and his wife Randa purchased a home in Mauldin that summer. They chose to live in Mauldin for many reasons: his wife’s service for 3 years as a reserve Mauldin Police officer, Mauldin’s location, the mature and friendly neighborhoods there, and the small-town feel. In 2011, they offered foster care to two young brothers and ended up adopting them a few years later. Cole, the older brother is now in 7th grade while Dean is in 4th grade.

Mr. Kraeling describes himself as a Christian Conservative Republican. He attends Brookwood Church and Seacoast Church Men’s Hike. He also has a black belt in Jujitsu and is a member of the National Rifle Association.

Major Issues Confronting Mauldin: Mr. Kraeling feels that growth is the major issue facing the Mauldin community. He says, “Controlled growth with a coherent vision, taking in the needs of our current residents, infrastructure, and businesses, will lead to a city envied by the rest of the state.” He also feels that out-of-control growth lacking guidance and adequate planning will undermine the potential of this city at a crucial time.

Why Running: Mr. Kraeling sees the current growth as a great opportunity for the citizens of Mauldin, but he also wants to help ensure that the wonderful quality of life here is not placed at risk through a lack of foresight and a chaotic pace of change.

He hopes to accomplish these goals if elected:
• Develop and execute a coherent strategy of zoning codes and architectural reviews.
• Ensure impacts on traffic and schools are always properly accounted for before any construction and development begin.
• Maintain the quality of life Mauldin residents enjoy by ensuring local laws and codes are enforced.
• Restore the reputation, pay, and job satisfaction of Mauldin’s 1st responders.
• Plan for and maintain storm water issues by employing clearly identified, responsible parties.

Why Best Candidate: Mr. Kraeling notes that the winner of this election will chair the Public Works Committee. As an engineer, he offers both technical and practical project management experience on large scale construction projects. He says that he possesses the interpersonal skills to work with all types of personalities to drive solutions. He also adds, “If you want to make sure our infrastructures (sewage, trash, roads, stormwater, etc.) are ready for the future, I am the best candidate for the job.”

John Mazzaro

Biography: Mr. Mazzaro, a 43-year-old, has lived in Mauldin for 34 years, 28 of those in Forrester Woods. He graduated from Mauldin High School and received a B.A. in Sociology from Furman University. Bringing over 25 years of customer service and marketing to the table, he is currently employed as the QA Manager for Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, a downtown Greenville mortgaging servicing firm.

Referring to his late father, a military veteran, who served as a Mauldin City councilman from 1992-2000, John says that he comes from a family dedicated to serving the community and he hopes to continue in this tradition. Mr. Mazzaro is a member of the Brookwood Community and attends Brookwood Church.

Major Issues Confronting Mauldin: Mr. Mazzaro lists several issues that he feels are extremely important for Mauldin in the upcoming years. These issues include: traffic and infrastructure concerns; storm water; lack of a variety of dining and nightlife establishments, artistic venues, and community centers; and “an overall appearance and concern of the city seeming outdated or a mere drive-through city rather than a destination.”

Why Running: Mr. Mazzaro says, “I felt it was finally time to represent a voice of a community that otherwise may go unheard.” He states that he loves this city and wants to “dedicate his time and efforts to make Mauldin a city every generation can be proud of. Being the youngest candidate, I bring more progressive, new ideas to council and plan to look at the city holistically rather than merely focus on one issue or one neighborhood. It’s about seeing the larger picture and understanding the concern of all residents within the city of Mauldin.”

He hopes to accomplish these goals if elected:
• Support the arts and local artists.
• Continue to encourage improvements with the city infrastructure.
• Work to improve the quality of our roads and sidewalks.

Why Best Candidate: Mr. Mazzaro says, “Aside from being raised where words such as honesty, integrity, and respect were firmly ingrained within my character, I feel my degree specializing in society and human behavioral patterns combined with almost two decades of holding upper management and executive positions, specifically focused on the customer experience, directly relate to serving the city of Mauldin as a councilman.” He feels that it comes down to taking the time to listen to and truly understand the needs and wants of

Mauldin residents. Mr. Mazzaro believes that he possesses the ability to “relate to residents across all generations and facets.” He says that, “I understand I do not necessarily have all the answers to every question; however, I have the resources and contacts to reach out when needed in order to provide the best solution to improve the quality of life for the residents of Mauldin.”

Editor’s Note: The special election for City of Mauldin Council Seat 3 was originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, but it has been postponed due to the Coronavirus issue. Absentee voting has also been postponed. You can get updates on when the election and absentee voting will occur by checking postings at https://cityofmauldin.org.■

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