Incumbent Democrat Charles Jennings is squaring off against Republican challenger Timothy White in the McCormick County Council District 4 race.

Jennings, 74, is a retired textiles management worker and is married to Mary Jennings. They had two daughters, one of whom is deceased.

White, 53, is a restauranteur and developer and is married to Cynthia White. They have a son, daughter and two grandchildren.

The opponents provided answers to five questions posed by the Index-Journal.

What are the key issues?

Jennings said that, as the county grows, strategic planning to meet the demands of the constituents is imperative.

“Key issues confronting county government, both short-term and long-term, are as follows: providing quality countywide fire services due to an aging population of volunteer firefighters; expanding waterlines throughout the county and providing good, quality water; and stabilizing health care premiums for employees and family members,” Jennings said.

White said the county must find ways to attract and retain businesses and develop its recreational assets.

“Reversing our negative growth and giving our young people a reason to stay or return after college” are critical, White said.

Why are you the right person for the job?Jennings said his experience, honesty and proven role as a leader are what make him the right person for the office.

“I am committed to serving the needs of the people in McCormick County by continuing to work along with other county, state and federal leaders in order to improve the livelihood and quality of life for constituents in this wonderful county,” he said. “One of my strongest motivating factors for seeking reelection is to provide competitive wages for our county employees. We have done this seven out of the past eight years. Employees received increases totaling 13% during this timeframe.”

White said that many times people are scared of change and that has affected the county.

“I feel that fear has crippled and hindered our growth,” he said. “Having come from outside of McCormick, I see all of the opportunities that pass us by, and we will go after and invite businesses to move here and grow with us.”

What qualifies you for this role?Jennings said his understanding of the functionality of county government and his ability to use available resources allow him to take a “holistic approach” in providing solutions for the county.

White said he has run several companies and started several successful businesses.

“I am still excited for what McCormick can become,” White said.

What distinguishes you

from your opponent?Jennings touts his experience in working in government.

“Some of my other qualifications include, but are not limited to, safeguarding taxpayers’ money,” Jennings said. “I have done this by minimizing tax increases to avoid imposing hardship on constituents and by assisting in maintaining budget expenditures within the limits of allocations.”

White said it is his vision that makes him uniquely qualified.

“I see what McCormick can be, and my opponent only sees what it is, and there is no passion for the future,” White said. “The potential here in McCormick is huge.”

What should be the focus

of economic development

Jennings said the council is continuing to market the industrial park in an attempt to assist dislocated workers because of plant closures.

“My goal is to continue assisting with the remaining projects, including building a new and improved EMS building; building a new EMS substation; and renovating the old high school into a community center. These projects are made possible by the taxpayers, secondary to the passing of the one-cent capital project sales tax that was approved by the county.”

White said that, for the past few years, the county starts a project or pressure a grant such as developing the county’s spec building, but the county fails to follow the rules, which, he said, results in loss of grant money and the waste of millions of county dollars.

“We will work closely with the Corp of Engineers to develop some of our natural resources to develop our tourism, sporting and recreational industries,” White said. “To further enhance and entice business to come, we will partner with CPW to bring natural gas to the county, therefore setting us to attract more businesses to McCormick.”

Contact staff writer Greg K. Deal at 864-943-5647 or follow on Twitter @IJDEAL.