Sunday, March 30, 2008

Running for Office Becomes Cool Again in Florence..

Wait, There's No River in Downtown Florence ! S**t, That's Florence Italy !!!
Believe it or not, I couldn't find a photo of Florence on Google, except for Tomlinson's Hardware and the Carolina Wings. If they want their pics on my blog, they can pay me. Nobody rides for free, baby....
Anyway, in this year of political change, it seems that change has even made it's way into Old Flotown. Now that filing time is about over, the race is taking shape, and it look like the city races are going to be pretty interesting.
For starters, Mayor and former Governor candidate Frank Willis will have competition to be re-elected. Odder yet, it is from his own party - if you ever thought that Willis really was a Democrat. If you were reading my blog back in '06, you already know my firsthand experience in hearing Willis' hypocrisy. Willis will be tested by local attorney Stephen Wukela, who ran against Sen. Hugh Leatherman in 2004. Wukela did a decent job against Leatherman, but that was an impossible race to win. He will have an easier time against Willis. There are a lot of Democrats who are not happy with Willis' tepidness to put his fist down against the pair of dummies that have been slowing downtown progress on City Council.
I met Wukela on the campaign trail in '04, and he's a nice guy, although his politics are way left of mine. The interesting and more important race is for City Council. the two at-large seats are up. They are currently held by Bobby Holland and Rick Woodard. The way things have played out now make it a very compelling race. Florence County Planning Commission Chair Glynn Willis ( a cousin of Frank, though less of a politician) entered the race to challenge them. Even a Democrat is running for the hard to win at-large seat. Octavia Williams-Blake is the Director of Occupational Health at McLeod Health, and is a Florence native. I know both Glynn and Octavia as well. Hey, Florence is a small city.... Also in is Steve Powers, who owns S/W Printing , an is chair of a Downtown Merchants Association. I don't know Powers, but I get a bit leery of people who own property in an area being developed running for office. BIG conflicts of interest there folks....
My experience with both of them ties into my dealings with the Planning Commission. Glynn was on the board back in 2003, and Blake's husband was the County Attorney then. Glynn eventually took over as Chair, and he has done agreat job of straightening out the face of the Commission. There are a lot less Real Estate agents and developers on board, so naturally, they listen to residents much more than when I had my problems. He listens as well as anyone I have encountered in City Government, and he is an avid reader of SC6 ! There isn't much you can ask for in government.
Octavia is an extremely smart and friendly person. I used to change the oil on her Volvo(?) when I worked at Florence Toyota, and I also saw her at a GOP fundraiser for -I think - Andre Bauer back in 2004. She is not a typical tax and spend Democrat. It was nice to hear an African-American say that the main thing government needs to do is not take money away from it's citizens. Like I said, she is a pretty smart woman. Too bad there aren't more like her. I would kill for her to take on Ed Robinson or Billy D. Williams .
For complete disclosure, I can't say the same for her husband Charlie, who used to be County Attorney. I beat a developer twice on a zoning issue, so they sued the county, and they eventually caved in and rezoned it without a hearing. Why was I not advised, since I was the only person representing the residents? Because, as Blake told me, "It wasn't any of your business." F.U.2 Sir........ As a footnote, Blake is now - SURPRISE !! - a Real Estate Attorney for Gary Finklea, the busiest developer in town right now. But, he's not running, his wife is....
Lastly, I almost was stunned into submission by the Community Times this week. The Times is the local African-American paper - and also the likely source of the outing of my night in the County Jail back in '06. The editor was praising all the candidates running this year. I quote..
'If you vote for people because they make a lot of noise, talk the talk, or because they are the most popular candidate, then you get what you voted for - nothing. You get people who lack the vision or plan. The voters of the City of Florence can no longer support candidates who are selfish and egotistical, people who only concern themselves with the districts they represent, or what is in the deal for them. "
I thought this was great.. mainly because I thought he was talking about Ed Robinson and Billy D. Williams, who have blocked any downtown progress, and thus have hurt their own people by not creating opportunity. It was a tough position for a black paper to take. Then I realized that Robinson and Williams are not running this year, so I guess the editor was referring to Woodard and Holland. Speaking of egos, when was the last time Woodard or Holland were arrested, had a BS press conference of even made the paper? Just asking.....
Overall, i'm glad to see people here in Florence to actually get off their butts and get involved. I can't do everything here myself !!!


new orleans moye said...

how many GOP running

Mike Reino said...

Three i think.