NORTH AUGUSTA — A major piece of North Augusta’s electoral puzzle is in place, with Mayor Lark Jones confirming his plans to run for re-election.
Jones, in running again, joins Council members Pat Carpenter and Arthur Shealy, both of whom confirmed their candidacy after a Nov. 19 Council meeting.
Councilman Jason Whinghter said he does not plan to seek re-election, and Fletcher Dickert and at least one other person have expressed plans to run.
Jones, who has been in office since May 1997, said a factor in his decision was Project Jackson, a proposal that was unveiled in December involving dozens of acres and millions of dollars in riverside development.
“There are a lot of things that will have to be worked through to get there. I think the one issue that everyone can agree on is traffic and parking, and that will have to be dealt with,” he said.
“I’m sure whatever solution is crafted won’t satisfy some folk, and ultimately, with any project of this order of magnitude, there are going to be people who are against it no matter what.”
The feedback that he has received so far from people who do not live in Hammond’s Ferry or The River Club has been “overwhelmingly” in favor of Project Jackson, he said.
“For years, I said our major problem was dealing with growth issues. That hasn’t been the case the last two or three years. I would certainly hope that they would become issues.”
Growth has been the basis for expansion of North Augusta’s government but maintaining the status quo has been the focus in recent years.
It’s “very difficult when the influx of dollars decreases,” Jones said.
“I think we have done a lot of tremendous things in the city of North Augusta,” said Jones, also an attorney. “And it’s not because I have been mayor, but I’m happy that I have been mayor to be a part of those decisions.”
Issues at hand, he said, include the possible relocation of the Department of Public Safety’s headquarters, and strong points have included recreational facilities, “a wonderful Public Safety Department” and the absence of property-tax increases in the past 12 years, as well as having strong department heads and successful transitions in leadership.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have good people in all the right places,” he said,
Carpenter, who was first elected in 1993, also described how she sees her role. “I have enjoyed it for the last 20 years, being involved in our city, and I would like to continue serving our city as a servant. I just look forward to a lot of new things coming to North Augusta. I just pray that all the people continue to trust in me and re-elect me.”
“I’d like to continue looking out for our children and our young people, so we can make this a better place for them in years to come. And the main thing, too, is my love for North Augusta, living here all my life. To me, it’s a wonderful city, and I just hope I get to continue to serve it.”
Shealy, in office since November 2000, issued a written statement on his outlook. “Much work remains to be done. The last five years have seemed quiet, because the global and local economies have collapsed.”
“However, a sea change has occurred. The world is vastly different. The city is faced with the challenge of maintaining its attractiveness as a retirement community while creating lifestyle opportunities that today’s 10-year-olds will envy when it’s their turn to start a family.”