This year's race for the Sumter County Council District 5 seat features two people: the incumbent, Councilwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney, and the challenger, Kenny Rose, a former educator and active pastor.
District 5 is in the northeast region of Sumter County. All Sumter County residents who reside in District 5 can vote.
Statewide partisan primaries will be held June 9. So far, Gov. Henry McMaster has said he does not plan to postpone voting because of COVID-19.
Any registered voter can vote in the primaries. South Carolina does not require voters to declare a party, so voters can choose any party's primary to vote in, but you can only vote in one.
Keep following The Sumter Item in print and online at www.TheItem.com/election2020 for all our coverage of local candidates.
Why are you running? Because of my leadership, a lot of progress has been made, and there is more that I would like to do to help bring completion to those projects that are in progress and to continue to expand upon my constituents' vision.
Have you run for political office before? Yes, I ran and was elected in 2002 to finish an unexpired term. I was re-elected for the same seat in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
How long have you lived in Sumter? Sumter County is my lifetime home. I grew up on a farm in the St. John Shiloh Community, attending elementary and high school at St. John and Mayewood High School (respectively) and only left Sumter County for a few years during college and young adult transitions.
Current job/profession: Coordinator for curriculum and instruction for specialized programs for Sumter School District
What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? The strong values instilled in me by my parents from childhood are the foundation that has shaped me into the adult servant that I am today. This foundation is the springboard that has catapulted me through every phase of my career and public service.
Because of my values, I have an inherent love for people and work ethics that give me stamina and tolerance. My propensity to persevere and passion for community advocacy have helped me to maintain focus and deliberation in leadership positions.
I was a leader throughout elementary and high school and then as a young elementary school teacher. I saw the needs of the students, which moved me to spend long, uncompensated after-school hours helping youth. These were students who lived in proximity to St. John School and would be home alone until their parents came home from work. This was just the beginning of a long work history of community work - always endeavoring to help make my community, county and world a better place.
In addition to being a classroom teacher for 20 years and an administrator for 15 years, I also hold the following credentials: Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Special Education; a Master's Degree in Education; a second Master's Degree in Educational Administration; National Board Certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist (twice certified); completion of South Carolina Diversity Leaders Initiative Midlands Class III at the Riley Institute at Furman University; numerous hours of professional development credits; many honors and speaking engagements and awards for educational excellence and for my performance as an accomplished teacher; civic and community exemplary service recognition; and participation in Sumter-Shaw AFB's Honorary Commander Program alongside the commander of the 20th Fighter Wing.
I am also a former United Methodist certified lay speaker and current licensed minister.
What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? Securing adequate funding is the greatest challenge when trying to accomplish costly quality-of-life projects. For my district, this includes paving and resurfacing of roads, clean water expansion, sewer service, fully equipped family recreational facilities, etc. To alleviate this challenge, I simply endeavored to be an active contributing member of our Fiscal Tax and Property Committee, which is the pulse that keeps our finances pumping.
If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? The county's main revenue stream is our Ad Valorem tax. The amount that is generated is contingent upon growth and mill value. We also receive an allocation from the state's Local Government Fund (LGF).
If a decrease in these sources necessitates an adjustment in funding, I will continue to network with colleagues to consider actions as we have taken in the past.
During the economy's slump of 2007-2010, it was necessary to make some tough decisions, which involved imposing cuts to other agencies that council funds, cutting back on some of county's operations, decreasing line items for various operations, freezing hiring, eliminating positions by attrition, etc. These are the same kinds of measures that would have to be inevitable if we experience this situation again.
Another strategy is to also work with colleagues to reach out to our representatives and senators on the Sumter Legislative Delegation to lobby their support of maximizing the LGF allocation as much as possible.
Most importantly, I will continue to collaborate with county council members and the county administrator for strategies to maximize utilization of available Ad Valorem taxes while at the same time avoiding placing additional tax burdens on citizens - especially small business and non-owner-occupied dwellings.
What success have you seen that you want to continue/build on? I want to continue to build on the rapport that Sumter County Council and I have established with other governmental entities. We pride ourselves with the brand "Team Sumter," and we are indeed a team. We can always do more together, and that is the mantra that I would like to continue to promote.
What is your vision for Sumter? I learned in a recent Rural Summit sponsored by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce that regionalization is another avenue that is proven to be productive. I endeavor to utilize this concept to expand upon projects that have the potential to be more cost-effective as a region by involving Clarendon and Lee counties depending on the project.
Are you actively involved in the community? I am active in many aspects of the ministry at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter with my husband, the Rev. Daryl McGhaney.
I offer my service to all the communities in District 5 by supporting their events, attending their meetings and more. I use the Eastern Community Center as a central location to host town hall meetings. I am a member of and enjoy spiritual fellowship with the Mayesville Presbyterian Church's Women's Circle 3, and I am a member of the League of Women Voters, Mary McLeod Bethune National Council of Negro Women, Shiloh COPS Council and life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Why should people vote for you? I have a proven track record of success. My experience is unparalleled. I am motivated, energetic, prepared and eager to take my service to the next level.
Anything else about yourself you want to add? I want to thank the citizens of Sumter County District 5 for allowing me to be their Sumter County councilwoman. Because of their votes of confidence, I am able to be a voice of reason for District 5.
Why are you running? I want to work with the residents of the district to improve the district for present and future generations. Throughout the many years as an educator and resident of District 5, I have heard the concerns shared and have witnessed the needs of our beloved district. I did as much as I could do as a general community member, and now it is time to change positions so that together we can keep District 5 alive.
I am saddened at the current state of our district. We have had multiple school closures, lack of resources for our youth and seniors, and many of our communities are suffering due to the lack of economic development.
Have you run for political office before? No
How long have you lived in Sumter? I have lived in Sumter County District 5 my entire life.
Current job/profession: I am a retired educator (35 years) and currently an active pastor (27 years).
What experience do you have that makes you best fit for the seat? I have served in many leadership positions that have allowed me the opportunity to develop communities, manage funds, collaborate and partner with the community and work with elected officials to address issues facing the community.
What challenges/concerns do you see in your district/community, and how do you intend to improve them? School closures and poor funding, lack of resources for youth and seniors and lack of community development.
I would utilize a "Community Development Approach" made up of participatory management-style meetings, listening circles, strength and needs assessments and committee/group work. The work is governed by a strategic plan that will be developed by the community, subject matter experts, community leaders and community business owners.
Due to the depth of the issues, the strategic plan development planning process will last for three months prior to implementation. However, some issues are smaller, and we can immediately address those. For example, some research has already been completed regarding the needs for an increase in services for youth and seniors. The research can be utilized to develop community-based/led approaches to identify and increase services.
An example for a more in-depth need is lack of funding and support for law enforcement. To address this issue, we would utilize the strategic planning process and ensure that benchmarking takes place for communities similar to ours based on salary, crime rate, etc. As a servant leader, I will be involved in the process and ensure that it is led by the experts.
This plan will serve as our guide for at least two years and be reviewed as needed.
If changes necessitate funding, how would you want to move funding around or make it possible? I will evaluate the current spending trends and identify the spending that is "wasteful." This will ensure that taxes are not being increased and we are able to use existing funds.
What success have you seen that you want to continue/build on? I think Sumter County has done well in serving our communities with our community centers. I would like to expand opportunities to rural communities where transportation is lacking.
I would implement a "Family Community Network" approach that is built upon engaging the faith community, local DSS and DHEC agencies, 4-H Youth Development Programs, local food bank, business/organizations and community leaders. The approach allows for shared resources to fund the centers. Therefore, the burden would not be on taxpayers.
We will also apply for federal grant funds and other funding opportunities that are available to support these types of community-based programs. Unfortunately, the current leadership is aware of these funding opportunities and did not embark upon the opportunity.
What is your vision for Sumter? My vision is that District 5 will be one of the healthiest places to live based on the social determinants of health, and all residents will have access to high-quality service to meet their needs.
Are you actively involved in the community? Sumter NAACP executive board member, Sumter County Concerned Clergy, Morris College Board of Trustees, Ragin Preparatory Christian Academy board member, Vision in Progress (VIP), South Carolina Education Association for Retired Educators-Sumter, Gamma Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Fraternity Inc. Volunteerism: Harvest Hope Food Bank in Mayesville, Shiloh and St. John areas; life coach, mentor and spiritual adviser; Camp Amigo of the Gamma Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. mentor; Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina; Baptist Village Apartments for senior board of director; field missionary through the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina for Compassions International.
Why should people vote for you? Our community needs a leader with experience and integrity and one who will stand in front of the issues.
After I retired, I heard from a lot of local residents about just how unhappy they were with the district's current situation and the direction things are going. It was loud and clear - "We need change." I want to be part of that change, part of a new council that is going to bring back accountability, respect for each other and the taxpayer, with a new spirit of cooperation to successfully address the challenges facing our community.
Anything else about yourself you want to add? I am a product of the Sumter County public school system and a graduate of Morris College with a bachelor of arts; a graduate of S.C. State University with a master of arts; and a graduate of Union University with a doctorate of philosophy. My tenure includes work with Morris College, Crestwood High School (director of guidance), Sumter County Adult Education Center (guidance counselor) and Ebenezer Middle School (guidance counselor).
Recently, I retired from the Sumter School District following many years of educational service.
I am married to Angela Johnson Rose, and we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on July 7 this year. We are the proud parents of two sons, Wyndell Rose, who transitioned to be with the Lord at an early age, and Kendall Rose.
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