City council hopefuls in Rincon and Springfield got a chance to make a quick impression on potential voters during the Effingham Chamber of Commerce’s candidates forum Wednesday morning.
Three of the five Rincon City Council candidates were on hand, and there are two seats up for election next month. Incumbent council member
Scott Morgan said he’s been a lifelong resident of Rincon.
“Not only do I live here,” he said, “but I work here, I go to church here, I got married in Rincon, I’ll probably die in Rincon.”
Morgan, who is running for a second term, said his first term on council has been a learning curve.
"Over the last four years, I have gained knowledge that I think will help to continue to improve the city of Rincon and to do what’s best for the citizens,” he said.
Fellow incumbent Levi Scott first served on council in the 1990s before leaving and ran for re-election four years ago.
“My wife tried to make me come home and make me do some of the yard work for about four years,” he said, “but I encouraged her that I needed to come back.”
Scott said he originally ran on a platform of eliminating taxes and improving public safety and roads.
“I’m proud to say we achieved it,” he said.
Scott said the city has focused on recreation and pointed out the plans for Patriots Park and for expansion of Macomber Park.
"The last four years have been really interesting. We’ve had some bumps in the road, but we’ve done some great things,” he said. “We’re accomplishing a whole lot of things. Our public safety, our roads, our streets are second to none in the county.
“I’d like to see it to continue. You get beat up sometime, but someone walks by and says, ‘I really enjoy what you all are doing,’ and that energizes you.”
Challenger Teresa Witt was the only one of three other candidates — including Joe Atkins and Frank Owens — to attend the forum. Atkins could not attend because he has been called up by the Air Force Reserves.
“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about an open line of communication between the citizens and the city of Rincon and finding out what their wants and needs are and looking to incorporate that,” she said.
Incumbent Springfield council members Charles Hinely and Kenny Usher also are running for re-election. Challenger Alan Parker did not attend the forum.
Hinely served on Springfield’s city council in the 1980s before returning to his post four years ago.
“It’s an odd thing, but some of the problems we had in the middle 80s we still have,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of people on city council and a mayor that have tried to tackle these problems and get Springfield on the road to revitalize Main Street and make the town more attractive to businesses that want to come into our city.”
Hinely said the city has begun initiatives that will take a long time to complete.
“I want to be part of the group that helps push this thing forward and gets something accomplished,” he said.
Usher lauded city manager Brett Bennett, who was hired by the current council, for his work with the city and said council members also are working closely with the Springfield Revitalization Corporation on improving downtown Springfield.
“We have to work to the best of our abilities to make sure Springfield doesn’t wither and die away,” he said. “It’s going to take extra effort on behalf and financial support as well. If the citizens of Springfield can see a plan and a vision for the future, they will support it.”
Usher said that when he first ran for council, he considered it a job interview with the town’s residents.
“This time, I feel the citizens of Springfield are the bossman, and I’m up for a job evaluation,” he said.