WINNSBORO — Three candidates are vying for the office of mayor for the Town of Winnsboro. The candidates will participate in a forum March 21 at the Winnsboro Woman’s Club. The public is invited to attend.
The three candidates are Mayor Roger A. Gaddy, Town Councilmen Bill Haslett and resident Michael L. Davis. The election April 2 will also include City Council District 2 and City Council District 4.
Each of the three mayoral candidates completed a survey for The Herald Independent to share more about why they want to become mayor of Winnsboro. Michael L. Davis was featured in the March 5 edition of The Herald Independent. Roger A. Gaddy is featured this week. Bill Haslett will be featured March 12.
Name: Roger A. Gaddy
Date of birth: Oct. 29, 1950
Marital status/family: Divorced, two grown children
Education: Graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1971 with a bachelor of science degree in biology. Graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1976.
Current employment: Family medicine practice in Winnsboro since 1980
Prior political experience: Has served as mayor of Winnsboro for the past eight years
1. Briefly discuss your background and qualifications for the office you are seeking.
I am a lifelong South Carolinian, grew up in Aiken, moved to Winnsboro nearly 33 years ago, and am running for re-election as mayor of Winnsboro. I am a graduate of the University of South Carolina and received my medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1976. I have been practicing family medicine ever since.
I have served as a member of the S.C. Medical Association since 1979, served as president in 2000-2001, representing more than 6,000 S.C. physicians. I moved to Winnsboro in 1980 and established a successful medical practice. Locally, I served as president of the Winnsboro Rotary Club, a member of the board of directors for the Bank of Ridgeway, chairman of the Fairfield Health Foundation and helped open the Martin Primary Health Care Center where Dr. McElmurray and Dr. Crisp currently practice.
I also have served as chief of staff for Fairfield Memorial Hospital multiple times and have made Winnsboro my permanent home.
2. Why are you running for mayor?
I am running for re-election as mayor of Winnsboro because the work I began eight years ago is not complete. We have made some good progress in keeping the town financially solvent, keeping a stable business climate and keeping our citizens safe.
I think my record as mayor speaks for itself. I love the town of Winnsboro and I see a lot of opportunity for growth and prosperity. But it’s a bigger job than just what the mayor can do – it takes a whole team of people. This includes the town council, the town employees, the Chamber of Commerce, state and county government agencies, as well as the residents of Winnsboro.
We have a strong council system of government in Winnsboro, and the mayor only has one vote on the council. I have the leadership skills and the experience to keep our town moving forward. I say, let’s stay the course and stay with a proven leader.
3. What would you do to foster economic development in the town?
For the past eight years I have worked hard to foster economic development in our town. Understand Winnsboro can’t do it by itself, nor can its mayor. It takes a team effort by local, county and state government to build an economic climate that fosters growth. Even the federal government has a role to play in the future of small towns like Winnsboro.
This begins by providing quality government services like good schools, a trained police force and fire department, an adequate water supply and a labor pool with the willingness to work together to move our town forward. I think the responsibility of Winnsboro’s town leaders is to ensure we have the utilities (e.g. water, electricity and natural gas) to supply prospective industry.
This also includes our ability to provide basic services like fire protection, a financially solvent hospital and access to decent medical care all financed through a fair tax structure. Understand, the mayor of any town has limited abilities to accomplish any of this on his or her own. As I said, it’s a cooperative effort across the board.
As your mayor, I will continue to work with our county and state leaders to improve the quality of life here in our town for all our citizens.
4. How would you improve the situation in the town?
I think our town gets better and better every day in several ways. We have a great base from which we can build. We have some good restaurants in town, several good downtown shops and stores, quality medical and dental care, automobile dealerships, banking and financial services, real estate and tax preparation services and some limited night life.
Sure, we’ve got a ways to go. But we’re working on improving every day. I won’t bore you with a long laundry list of accomplishments since I took office eight years ago. But you should know that we’ve secured several grants to make improvements to our town, received “clean audits” from our certified municipal accountants and worked on improving our zoning ordinances.
I want to continue my efforts to improve Winnsboro’s access to water. I don’t like having mandatory water restrictions put on our citizens, but it’s all we can do right now. Our negotiations with the City of Columbia are ongoing. As we work in conjunction with and not independent of our county and state leaders, I’d like to think we’ll get this problem solved fairly soon.
5. In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing the town?
It’s no secret that our country, state, county and town are in an economic slump right now. Sadly, we’ve seen some great businesses in town close their doors. It’s my job as mayor to help ensure we provide the basic infrastructure to help grow our town.
The single biggest issue facing Winnsboro is being able to provide an adequate and clean water supply. Our reservoir can no longer do the job. If we want to grow and prosper, we’ve got to be able to provide water. That takes cooperation with the county and every one of the other four water companies in our county.
Why can’t we all work together and provide water to all our citizens and industry at a fair price? I want to remain as your mayor and get this done and done right through the formation of a water authority.
We would like to somehow get the old Mt. Zion School in some sort of working order. Here again, it takes cooperation through a public and private partnership to make something happen. We need to help promising organizations like the Dru Blair School of Art get established and find a way to put some of our historic buildings to better use.
6. What do you feel is the most important aspect of this position?
I’ve learned a lot over the past eight years. I’ve learned that one of the most important aspects of this job is being a good ambassador for our town. As I said, we can’t improve our community by ourselves. As mayor I know I have work with county council, the hospital administration, our state legislators, the museum here in town, the Pine Tree Players and every other business and organization in the town limits. Equally important is the mayor’s ability to work with other towns in the county, promote Winnsboro’s strengths and opportunities and be active in state government as well.
I’m impressed with what my counterpart, Charlene Herring, has done as mayor of Ridgeway. She’s a good leader over there and has done a lot to put Ridgeway on the map. The Town Council and I are working to do the same thing here in Winnsboro. We have a lot to offer here. That’s why I’ve made Winnsboro my home for the past 32 years.
7. What will your number one priority be if you are elected?
That’s an interesting question. I say that because it isn’t so much what my number one priority is for our town; it’s what the citizens of our town feel is the number one priority. In my busy medical practice I see dozens of patients every day. Believe me, none of them are shy about telling me what suggestions they have for growing and improving our town. My patients are from every walk of life — from the town’s poorer citizens to those who are financially stable. They all ask for and deserve the same thing – a town government that uses its resources and tax dollars wisely, provides needed government services and can do its part to offer a decent quality of life for its citizens.
Like them I want to restore parts of our downtown, keep our citizens safe, give them access to clean water, quality sewage system and electrical power. That’s what the citizens of our town are telling me and as their mayor, that’s what we have done and will continue to do.
8. What is your favorite book and why?
One of my favorite books is a book titled Bryson City Tales by Walt Larimore. It’s a trilogy about a Smokey Mountain family doctor setting up his first family practice in the small town of Bryson City, N.C. and the unique challenges he faced.
9. If you are not a native of Fairfield County and/or Winnsboro, where are you from originally and when did you move here?
I am not a native of Fairfield County, but I sure feel like I am. I moved here after finishing my residency in 1981 and have been here ever since. I helped raise our daughter and son here in Winnsboro. Both are physicians. My daughter, Bryant, is a child psychiatrist in Greenville, S.C. and my son, Parker, is in his anesthesia residency in Charleston.
I grew up in Aiken. My dad was a chemist and my mom was an eighth grade school teacher. They worked hard to get me through college and medical school. They both taught me to respect my elders, work hard and always give your best to every job. As your mayor for the past eight years, I have tried to give every citizen the opportunity to be successful. I look forward to your continued support.