Mayoral Candidates Hosted By Republican Women of the Golden Strip
Godbey and Raines have much in common, but begin to emphasize differences
On Monday night, the Republican Women of the Golden Strip played host to Mauldin’s mayoral candidates at the new Stax restaurant on Woodruff Road.
Incumbent Don Godbey and challenger Dennis Raines spoke before approximately 30 guests who packed a meeting room at the rear of the restaurant. RWGS President Kaaren Mann moderated the event and asked questions after the candidates’ opening statements.
In his introductory remarks, Godbey pointed to, among other things, the city’s improved credit rating during his term, his memberships in various regional groups and the growth fostered through relationships he has developed in the last four years. Godbey also noted that 94 percent of the city council’s decisions were unanimous, which he said was an example of his ability to build consensus.
For his opening statement, Raines emphasized his long and deep ties to Mauldin. Raines mentioned his 26 years at Kemet in Simpsonville, his leadership of the Miracle League and the two major accomplishments of his term on city council from 1996-2001—the creation of the cultural center and the construction of City Hall. He also referred to his commitment to public service as a volunteer firefighter.
Since declaring their candidacies, both Godbey and Raines have taken pains to keep their contest civil and that, in contrast to the race happening at the national level, continued on Monday. However, both hopefuls took advantage of the opportunity to distinguish their differences to voters.
In response to a question about the obstacles facing the city, Godbey cited unfunded mandates from the state and federal level that impact the city’s operations and finances. Raines identified the tough economic times as the biggest challenge, times made worse, he said, by the $45 fee the city council approved earlier this year. If elected as mayor, Raines said he would work to rescind the fee.
The trash fee was one of the main bones of contention between Raines and Godbey. Raines said that his analysis of the budget found the fee to be unnecessary. But Godbey said that the fee was needed, in light of the fact that tipping fees had been raised by Greenville County for three years in a row, a fact that would unavoidably be passed along to taxpayers.
Later, Godbey and Raines used a question about economic development to again draw distinctions from each other. Raines, as he had at candidates’ event earlier this month, described a $750 fine that had been imposed on a local business for violating a code, which he implied was a relatively minor offense, and therefore damaging to the business climate. Godbey said that code enforcement was actually a critical component to improving the business environment and has benefited the city in that it tells prospective businesses that the city is run at a high standard.
The final area where the candidates diverged was on budgeting. Godbey criticized Raines for voting to lay off police officers and firefighters when he was on city council. Raines could not recall the layoffs but did not dispute them. He went on to say that given a choice, he would lay off workers rather than raise taxes or fees and concluded the point by recounting a time when he was working in the private sector and had to let go one of his neighbors. Raines said he did not relish the choice, but it is the kind that leaders must make.
Godbey stressed the importance of balancing the budget while also retaining the high level of services that citizens of Mauldin have come to expect, services that Godbey believes are superior to that of any municipality in the Upstate.
In their closing statements both Godbey and Raines reminded the audience that the election was not personal and that they would remain friendly regardless of the outcome. Election Day is two weeks from today on November 8.