There’s still work to do

When I first ran for Mauldin City Council in 2013, I said I wanted to increase economic development, work to deepen our sense of place by creating an environment where people wanted to live, work, and play, keep increasing recreation options for both youth and adults, and keep public safety a priority.

I stayed focused on those goals when I ran for re-election in 2017, and now with so many of those plans underway, I feel like I have more to offer as we keep moving Mauldin forward.

After a lot of discussion with my incredibly supportive family, at Noon on July 15, I filed paperwork to run for re-election to Seat 1 on Mauldin City Council.

The past few years have had their share of challenges, but we got through them – including an entire year when the world was essentially shut down.

Now, the world has cautiously reopened, and as a city, Mauldin has to stay running and focused on our continued success.

In terms of economic development, shortly before filing for reelection, I was in a meeting with a local economic development group who brought a new business to Mauldin for a discussion about potential site selection for corporate expansion into the United States. I told them what I tell everyone. “One of Mauldin’s greatest assets is our location. We have rapid access to I-85, I-385, rail lines, and our proximity to the Inland Port makes it easy to ship products to the Port of Charleston. On top of that, we still have available real estate inventory with cost-effective price points.” These were extremely attractive benefits that helped us move up on their list. Over the last seven and a half years, I’ve preached that message and worked alongside city staff to make sure it gets in the right ears. Creating a city department tasked with economic development has helped bring numbers of new businesses and created thousands of jobs in Mauldin.

When it comes to creating a more defined sense of place, we’re finally beginning development of a City Center Village. Not only will it help change Main Street’s face, it will hopefully serve as the hub of a downtown development wheel, and new projects will emerge in all directions to provide our residents and visitors with new options of places to dine, shop, and play. Just yesterday, I met with a resident who said he wants to open a new business in the City Center Village. “I want it to be in Mauldin. I don’t want it somewhere else. If I can’t open in Mauldin, I won’t open it at all.” It’s that kind of enthusiasm and commitment that helps demonstrate that we’re on the right path.

Our recreation options continue expending. When I first ran for council, my wife and I were spending night after night at our parks’ athletic fields because our son was there for whatever sport happened to be in season. Over the past several years, the recreation department’s youth sports participation numbers have skyrocketed, and the athletic programs have increased. I helped

launch the rec department’s lacrosse program, and our rec department staff members, many of whom are Mauldin High alums like me, have focused the department to make it the area go-to for youth sports.

As much as we talk about youth sports, there is the other end of the program that we can’t forget about. Even as the world was shut down last year, because of a grant we sought and received from the state’s Office on Aging, we were able to make much needed renovations to the Ray Hopkins Senior Center – widening some halls, installing an elevator, updating the kitchen, and other projects to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Before the pandemic, roughly 4000 people each month came through the Senior Center’s doors to appreciate everything it offers, and we owe it to our senior residents to provide a place of fellowship and enjoyment.

Public safety is our top priority, because our primary job is to keep our residents, visitors, and businesses safe. Our police department continues to be accredited at the state and national levels. Our fire department now boasts a Class 1 rating with the Insurance Services Office, which on the Class 1 to Class 10 scale means that Mauldin Fire Department remains one of the top rated fire departments in the nation (and it keeps insurance premiums down). We continue making investments in public safety because our city continues to grow, and we want our city to stay safe.

I’ve covered a lot of information, but there is a lot more to be excited about. There’s just not enough room to talk about it here. We’ve achieved some of the things I wanted to do, and other projects are still making progress.

I’d like to keep working, I’d like to keep serving, I’d like to continue being a voice on the things that matter to Mauldin, and I’m asking for your support now and for your vote in November.

— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at■

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