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County Council: Transition in District 6 follows Politics 101

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

In the weeks before he is sworn in as a Georgetown County Council member next month, Bob Anderson is working overtime to learn as much as he can to make the transition a smooth one.

He went to an orientation session hosted by the S.C. Association of Counties this week and “they gave me a stack of materials about 8 inches high to read,” he said. He had already received an even bigger stack from County Administrator Sel Hemingway after he won the District 6 election.

“I feel like I’m back in Politics 101 with a mountain of required reading,” Anderson said. “I haven’t even raised my right hand yet and I’m already in over my head.”

But he’s ready for the challenge. He’s diligently working his way through all the manuals and handouts. He’s already fielding phone calls from constituents about roads and is doing his best to find the answers to their questions. And he’s working with existing council members, including Glen O’Connell, the current District 6 representative.

O’Connell opted not to run for re-election after his first term and will attend his last council meeting as a member on Tuesday.

“The current council has been kind enough to take me into the fold,” Anderson said. “Everybody has been very helpful and they have said they will do anything they can to help me. “It’s very encouraging, being a neophyte, to have others who have been doing this awhile who can show you the ropes.”

Anderson and O’Connell have already had discussions on a number of matters countywide and specific to District 6, and more discussions are planned.

“What I’m doing are root canals on the subject matter as it comes up, and that often takes me into another subject matter and I do my due diligence on that,” Anderson said.

“There are a cadre of different things going on that I’m only beginning to get my feet wet with. Every day is going to be a learning experience, but that’s not a bad thing. When you stop learning, you’re either taking a dirt nap or you’ve given up on life.”

O’Connell said he will remain available after his term ends. He wants to be a resource to Anderson, as well as others who might be able to make use of his experience and insight as they go about the county’s business.

“I would hope they would still make a place for me at the table to just come and listen, and even come and ask me for advice as an exalted rooster old guy,” he said.

O’Connell enjoyed being involved with the county at a council level, he said, but the amount of time it requires persuaded him against a second term.

Of his accomplishments over the last four years, “there are a number of things I’m quite pleased with,” he said. “When I look at the things I said I would do when I was running for election, there’s a lot I feel good about that we’ve accomplished.”

Among them are impact fees, which the county implemented last year. Having new development pay its share of infrastructure costs resulting from population growth was one of the issues O’Connell campaigned on, and impact fees accomplish that, he said.

He also listed the county’s capital improvement plan, which includes construction of facilities such as parks, libraries and boat landings throughout the county; countywide zoning; the strategic transportation plan, which will help create a network of roads to move local traffic off Highway 17; the formation of the Tourism Management Commission to replace the Georgetown County Visitors Bureau; and the paving and resurfacing of roads including Tiller Drive and Library Lane.

He also noted that council has become more cohesive and gotten better at working across regional lines for the betterment of the county as a whole.

“I hope I played a role in that,” he said. “I would also like to feel I made some contribution to a general upgrading of expectations in terms of the effectiveness of local government.”

O’Connell said the best advice he can offer Anderson as he prepares to join council is to “listen carefully” to constituents and fellow council members.

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