Lexington County Council Candidates in the Republican Primary

title=

Lexington County Councilman Todd Cullum, left, and GOP chief challenger Bobby Porter.

Cayce-area Republican voters will have one of the only opportunities to shape the face of Lexington County Council over the next few years.

Former council chairman Todd Cullum, a 20-year-old incumbent representing District 9 on the council, faces a primary challenge from Bobby Porter, a former South Congaree councilman who, before the last redistricting cycle, had stood previously running for office as a Democrat in another council district. .

Cullum draws on his experience as a longtime council member, while Porter said he wants to focus on issues fueled by Lexington County’s growth. Porter previously told The State that he decided to switch parties when “it was clear to me that my ideas and my ideology didn’t match any Democrat.”

In 2020, Porter ran for County Council against Gene “Bimbo” Jones as a Democrat in the Red Bank-centric District 5. When council seats were redistributed after the 2020 census, Porter’s home in South Congaree moved to District 9, which also includes Cayce and Pine Ridge.

No other candidate has shown up to run against the winner of the GOP primary in the Nov. 8 general election. Three other board incumbents — Larry Brigham, Beth Carrigg and Glen Conwell — are running unopposed.

Todd Cullum.jpg
Todd Cullum, Lexington County Councilor Lexington County

Todd Cullum

Age: 58

Education: Graduate, airport high school; Graduate, USC Columbia, BS in Finance, Insurance and Economic Security; Graduate, SC Economic Developers Association Institute; Graduate, Georgia Tech, Basic Economic Development.

Occupationn: Partner, Reeley’s Body Shop, Inc.

Previous political experience: Elected to Lexington County Council, November 2002 to present. Served as Chairman of the Board in 2005, 2006, 2016, 2017 and 2021.

What is the biggest problem facing District 9? And what are you going to do with it?

District #9’s challenges are much like the rest of the county, growing and maintaining transportation, and dealing with congestion. Specifically in District #9, there are most active sites available for industry location and job creation. Additionally, the “gateway” to our Midlands region is SC 302-Airport Blvd. This corridor needs to be improved to show a positive welcome to all visitors to our region, whether for pleasure or business.

I intend to continue to seek ways to improve our transportation system for maintenance and congestion management through alternative financial solutions; federal grants, local options funding and government/private partnerships. Industry recruitment will continue to be a top priority to create a tax base and jobs, both of which are essential to the health and growth of the county. I will continue to champion the county’s three industrial parks and aggressively seek out quality businesses to locate here. The Airport Boulevard Corridor Improvement Plan is underway and all local governments are working in tandem to engage the business community to partner with government to improve this ‘gateway to the Midlands’ corridor.

How do you plan to handle development and traffic issues as Lexington County grows?

I will continue to pursue growth plans that improve the quality of life in our county, but do not restrict investment and opportunity. Specifically, I will be advocating for the use of our new comprehensive countywide plan for future residential and commercial growth. The traffic problem has grown over the years and needs funding to make improvements. I will continue to seek new funding options that our residents can support through federal grants at the CMCOG level, SCDOT funding, and the opportunity for the public to have a say in the funding options model. local.

Bobby Porter.JPG
Bobby Porter, candidate for Lexington County Council Provided

Bobby Porter

Age: 55

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Campbell University ’91; Masters in Business Administration, East Carolina University ’97

Occupation: Licensed general contractor in North Carolina and South Carolina

Political experience: Congaree South Town Hall 2018-2022; Lexington County Water and Sewer Commission 2021–present

What is the biggest problem facing District 9? And what are you going to do with it?

Growth is our long-term priority facing our district today. Our infrastructure, our school system, our housing, our health care and our first responders are all affected. Planning for this continued growth is critical to advancing residential and commercial development. A haphazard approach to our overall county plan quickly allows the potential for growth to outpace our existing infrastructure. It is not difficult to determine that our roads are in dire need of repairs as well as water and sewer lines that are close to maximum capacity based on current flow and existing pumping stations.

My question is how did we get to this “catch up” position. Growth will continue in Lexington County, but it is up to county leaders to manage and control that growth. Nor do I believe that the lack of improvements is financial as state and federal funds have been made available with county tax collection. I think our county council as a whole has failed to prioritize the needs of not just District 9, but Lexington County. Once elected, I will encourage cost analysis and economic analysis to determine the impact of development on our communities. Simply, how county funds are currently being spent and opportunities for cost reduction. I believe that an open dialogue with our civic and business leaders will help identify areas in which to target our funds effectively and responsibly. Planning coupled with a comprehensive strategy will reduce the negative impact on our district and county.

Second, I believe our elected officials should lead by example while giving back to our communities in which we serve. Once elected, I propose that part of the compensation be used to support our next generation. I intend to establish a trust fund for high school students in my district providing “Youth/Adult Initiative Program” scholarships to our future leaders. We have an obligation to engage our youth as an inclusion in our county plans. Finally, I ask the citizens of District 9 in Lexington County to consider whether they and their communities are better off under current leadership or are out of touch with community needs. I intend to make changes that include all of our residents, businesses and civic leaders for an improved Lexington County and to refuse any increase in the tax burden on the citizens of District 9 of Lexington County.

How do you plan to handle development and traffic issues as Lexington County grows?

Strategic planning is the best approach to increased development and pressure on our roads. I believe that a smart and proactive approach adhering to Plans 1, 3, 5 and 10 will help and minimize some current bottlenecks, but not all. As a general contractor, I have worked on many residential and commercial projects. Our first task is to determine what the impact will be on traffic flow and counting. It is a cooperation between the developer and elected leaders to reduce congestion and road quality. I believe that a lack of oversight and communication allowed conditions to deteriorate and get worse. The county has allowed development to far exceed infrastructure capacity. Growth can be closely monitored and adjustments made accordingly. This aspect has been ignored, hence the increase in traffic jams and the deterioration of the roads.

I intend to aggressively resolve this issue by reviewing plans submitted by developers, reviewing responses, and creating communication with the state DOT to determine how we ended up in a position again of catch-up. “Good growth” is good for our county, but once it gets out of control, it reduces our quality of life. Some will say that all development is good, I believe that all “controlled” growth is positive for our communities. Not only do we have an obligation to new residents and businesses moving to Lexington County, but more importantly, those who have been here for generations need some much-needed attention.

I believe our growth projections and trajectory far exceed capacity. The question of where do we want to be in the next 3, 5, 10 years is a valid one. What steps do we want to take to get there. Is our current leadership capable of taking our community there. I believe communication, careful planning and slowing down the pace of development will give us that opportunity. The cooperation and re-engagement of our communities in decision-making processes will help alleviate many of the traffic problems they currently face.

Bristow Marchant covers local government, schools and the Lexington County community for the state. He graduated from the College of Charleston in 2007. He has over 10 years of experience covering South Carolina at the Clinton Chronicle, Sumter Item and Rock Hill Herald. He joined The State in 2016. Bristow won the 2015 SC Press Association Award for Best Series and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.
Support my work with a digital subscription

Comments are closed.