FOREST ACRES, SC (WIS) - A general election Tuesday could mean two new city council members in Forest Acres.
Voters will choose two at-large city council members for seats that have gone uncontested over the last eight years. Community members can either stick with the incumbents or choose brand new representation.
The two council members fighting to keep their seats in Tuesday’s election are Ginger Dukes, who’s been serving on city council for the last 16 years, and Curtis Rye, who’s been serving for the last 22. Both council members say it’s because of this experience that they will best serve the Forest Acres community.
"I'm very proud of the fact that I have been on city council for 16 years,” said Dukes. “We've managed to keep our taxes low. We've managed to have balanced budgets through what we consider to be effective spending.”
"I think we've got a great team in place – and we try very, very hard to meet the needs of our constituents to respond to them in a timely manner for them to feel like they do have a voice in what goes on in their town. I think that is really important and why we continue to exist," Rye said.
There are also two new candidates who may not have as much experience in city government, but they each point to reasons why voters should choose them.
Thomas Andrews noted that he’s a 14-year resident of Forest Acres, an attorney that helps veterans receive their VA benefits, and a father of three.
"Since beginning to run, I've knocked on approximately 1,500 doors and talked to lots of people and the issues of speeding and development along Forest Drive have really resonated with people," Andrews said.
John Barnes is also a candidate who said he has "thought about some of the issues that are important like development, like the future of Forest Acres in terms of the next 10-12 years, public safety -- The perspective that I have of having school-aged children. We haven't had a person on City Council that's had school-aged children in a really long time."
There are no term limits for Forest Acres city council members, which is why several city leaders have been in place for multiple 4-year terms. Barnes and Andrews said it’s time for a change.
"It's just been incumbents that continue to run for these spots,” said Barnes. “Well, in this election there is a choice in candidates and I think people are excited about that. I think that people want to turn out and vote and we're expecting a much larger turnout this time.”
Andrews said part of the reason he’s running is because “I think they need new leadership and new blood. We have a new, diverse community here that has new problems and we need new people to look and come up with new solutions and concerns."
The two incumbents, on the other hand, said their experience gives them an advantage to better serve the Forest Acres community.
"We've had no opposition for the last eight years. So, I think that speaks volumes of what the voters – are constituents – think the job is being done. We haven't even had opposition in over eight years,” said Rye.
Dukes said she’s “honored that people have asked me to remain on council this long. I think one of the things that happens, though, when you look at term limits I think often times you lose the experience and the knowledge of the people that have been there longest that provide good leadership."
Forest Acres Mayor Frank Brunson, who’s been serving as mayor for the last 16 years, is running uncontested Tuesday.
WIS reached out to him for his take on council members serving multiple terms. He responded with the following statement:
“Experience and involvement are two key elements to my success as Mayor. Having lived most of my adult life as a resident as well as owning a business in Forest Acres allows me to be better aware of what residents, as well as the commercial element, want their Council to maintain a pleasant balance of. I am proud to be a part of a Council that is sensitive to maintaining and further developing the highest quality of life for our residents and businesses by being attentive to safe streets, prudent spending, efficient Public Works department, low taxes, and an open and transparent posture with all of our residents and business entities.
“An elected community servant maintains great value for his/her city through experience gained over time, as long as that individual still has the passion to stay actively involved and productive for their constituents.”
Polls are open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Here are the polling locations:
- Cooper and East Forest precincts -- Brockman School, 2245 Montclair Drive
- Keenan and North Forest precincts -- Trenholm Park, 3900 Covenant Road
- Gregg Park and South Forest Acres precincts -- Crayton Middle School, 5000 Clemson Avenue
- Arcadia, Oakwood, Trenholm, and Satchelford precincts -- Satchelford Elementary School, 5901 Satchelford Road
- Midway precinct, no registered voters