A look at candidates for County Council: Barton’s goals include economic development
Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series of profiles on candidates running for Aiken County Council District 6 seat. Today’s focus is on Lynette Barton. Next Saturday will focus on John McMichael, and Phil Napier will be the focus on Feb. 2.
Lynette Barton has been around politics her entire life, but she will enter the foray for the first time running for District 6 on the Aiken County Council.
Barton is running against John McMichael and Phil Napier for the seat that was vacated after her husband, Charles, was elected county auditor in November.
“It’s an opportunity to work with and for the people of my district,” said Barton, who grew up in Warrenville and lives in Graniteville. “At the same time, you’ve got to think about your whole county; if you do something for one district, it’s going to trickle down and affect the rest of the districts.”
Barton said one of her primary goals as a County Council member would be fixing the drainage in Kalmia Hills, for which she said the county planned to use a capital project sales tax.
“There’s not enough funds in there to complete the project, so those funds will have to come from the state, and that opens up another ball game,” she said. “Anybody that’s ever lived there knows Kalmia Hills always floods.”
Barton said economic development would be another objective. She singled out about 900 acres that the county owns near Sage Mill which is “just sitting dormant.”
“I would love to see economic development develop that piece of property,” she said. “The county has other properties all over the county just sitting; why not sell this property to put it back into our tax base? It’s not doing us any good just sitting there.”
Barton said a larger tax base would enable the county to offer more programs.
“You feed one, you feed the other,” she said.
Barton said that one difference between her and her husband is that she is more “outspoken.”
“I don’t mind voicing my opinion, but yet, you have to do it in a type of way,” she said. “I listen, but if I hear something that I don’t think is right, I’m going to let you know right then and there. You just have to know when you need to raise that octane or level of your voice, or just be subtle.”
Barton said that her husband serving as county auditor would only present a conflict on budgetary issues.
“Anything to do with his office, I would have to abstain from it,” she said. “It would be unethical for me to vote for his budget.”
Another reason Barton is seeking the seat is because the County Council has only two members that serve rural areas: LaWana McKenzie and Kathy Rawls.
“There needs to be another rural person in there,” she said. “Even though I grew up in the Graniteville area, I’ve lived in north Aiken and Eureka for 20-something years. That’s about as rural as you can get.”
Barton said her 25 years experience in upper management – as operator of Barton Radiator and Electrical Services and a Realtor with Joe Horne & Associates – allow her to see “both sides of an issue.”
“I look at the council and governing our county as a business,” she said. “You’ve got to balance your budget, please your employees, please your departments heads. I’ve been in upper management my whole career.”
In addition to maintaining relations with law enforcement, EMS, the administrator and all department heads, Barton wants to maintain relations with Aiken City Hall.
“I don’t want to leave the city out, because District 6 represents the City Hall area,” she said. “I want them to know I’m here if they need. I hope they will show me the same respect.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.