Editor's note: This is the third in a three-part series of profiles on candidates running for the Aiken County Council District 6 seat. Today's focus is on Phil Napier. A Jan. 19 article focused on Lynette Barton, and John McMichael was the focus on Jan. 26.
Aiken County Council District 6 candidate Phil Napier does not believe in wasteful spending, a credo displayed publicly on his campaign signs.
Instead of having brand new signs made, Napier simply affixed a “re-elect” sticker onto the same yard signs he used in 1999 while running for County Council.
He did not support wasteful spending while serving on Council from 1999-2002, he said, and he does not support it now.
During his term, Napier said he proved that the County could purchase a new ambulance for approximately $60,000 rather than spend more than $70,000 to put an old ambulance box on a new chassis. He also said the County could save money by renovating a vacant big box store for offices rather than spend roughly $37.6 million on the new government center on University Parkway.
“It would come out cheaper,” Napier said.
Napier, a native of Graniteville, will face business owner Lynette Barton and business development officer John McMichael in the Feb. 5 primary. The District 6 seat was vacated by Charles Barton last year when he was appointed to the County auditor position to fill the unexpired term. Charles Barton was duly elected auditor in November.
Before he was elected to County Council to represent District 5, Napier served on the County Planning Commission.
He is the owner of Napier Hardware in Graniteville and volunteer chief of the GVW Fire Department.
There should be no questions about a conflict of interest stemming from his involvement with the fire department if he is elected, he said, “because as a chief, I am not paid.”
He cited Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt's position as a volunteer second assistant chief with the recently-created Midland Valley Fire Department as evidence that there is a precedent of no conflict of interest.
Napier is seeking a second term on Council because, “I felt like the community and rural areas need local representation.”
Strong, thorough local representation would help mitigate concerns residents have that their areas do not receive a fair share of one-cent Capital Projects Sales Tax funds, he said.
The Capital Projects Sales Tax is a special one-cent option sales tax applying to the gross proceeds of sales in Aiken County. Proceeds are used to fund the purchase of ambulances, police cars, road paving and infrastructure development and improvement, among other things.
Aiken County, the cities of North Augusta and Aiken, and each municipality submits a list of projects to be considered for funding, which is approved by a committee.
Napier proposes creating a different committee comprised of Council representatives and citizens to better reflect a community's needs.
“I will vote my convictions as a taxpayer,” he said.
Napier, because of his previous experience on Council, feels he is particularly qualified to serve again. He can “hit the ground running and won't have to sit there and learn the ropes.”
“I am a fair, honest, hard-working and community-oriented person. I have been a public servant all my life. Out of the goodness of my heart I help people. I guess my life is helping people. I want to go to Council as a peacemaker. I will work with everybody as peaceful as I can,” he said.
One of his primary goals if he is elected is to bring more jobs to the area.
“That is the secret to economic development. Jobs will bring the economy around,” he said.