York council candidates: Growth, development are top issues

news@enquirerherald.comOctober 9, 2013 

Editor’s note: This is the first of several articles on the three contested municipal races in York and McConnells for the Nov. 5 election.

Two candidates for the York City Council’s District 6 list promoting managed growth, examining city staffing needs and maintaining or improving city infrastructure among top issues.

The candidates are Johnny McCoy, who served one four-year term in the District 6 seat before he was defeated by three votes in 2009, and John Shiflet, retired president and CEO of York Place, the Episcopal Home for Children.

District 6 Councilman Mark Boley is not seeking re-election.

The York District 6 race is one of three contested municipal elections in Western York County for the Nov. 5 election. The other two are the York City Council District 1 race — in which John Eakin is challenging longtime incumbent Charles Johnson — and the McConnells Town Council race, where five candidates are vying for four open seats.

Municipal elections will not be held in Clover, Smyrna, Hickory Grove and Sharon because there were no contested races.

In York, council members are elected in six districts and serve four-year terms. District 6, which covers the largest area of the York districts, is in central York north of Liberty Street.

McCoy, 63, is a York native who grew up in Camden and has lived in York since 1977. McCoy is an assistant quality assurance manager/engineer at Mackson Inc. in Rock Hill.

Shiflet, 67, has lived in York since 2001, when he became president and CEO of York Place, a state-supported children’s home. He retired in 2011 and said he would like to invest energy in promoting the city.

Shiflet said he has done some consulting, but still had time, and “I wanted to do more. We have fallen in love with York, and feel there are opportunities to share with others what a great place it is. This seemed like an opportunity to be involved in developing the potential for the city of York.”

Shiflet said he had been charged in his career with the “the management or administration of some fairly large budgets. And I have some leadership skills. I would like to be a part of a team focusing on economic development in the city of York and western York County.”

McCoy said he enjoyed working with the City Council and staff during his previous term on the council and would welcome the chance to do it again. He said the knowledge and experience with city operations that he gained in his previous term would be useful.

“I just like to be involved in making decisions for the city,” McCoy said. “I enjoy working with the mayor, the council and the staff. They have an excellent staff at the city. They do a good job.”

McCoy said one of York’s greatest challenges is managing the price of growth versus the cost of maintaining the existing infrastructure. “I think that’s a constant challenge,” he said.

He said the completion of the S.C. 5 Bypass around York will bring some growth. “I think we need managed growth,” he said. “There’s always a challenge of managing growth with maintaining what you already have.”

Although McCoy said the city needs development, “the problem with it coming to York is the room for it. Without expanding the city limits, there’s really not a lot of room for growth within the city.”

Shiflet said he would like to help promote the city and encourage the process of diversifying its tax base.

“This is a charming city, and it has a lot of historical significance. I think we need to be in a position to let people know that and promote it as best we can. And I think it’s important the economy be as diverse as possible — that the burden is not placed strictly on homeowners or businesses.”

He said he’s not a big proponent of taxing and spending.

“I prefer to believe that we ought to find ways that investment can be made in the community through the revenue base, within the constraints of what the council believes is fitting for the city,” he said.

Public safety

Shiflet said another issue is to ensure the city is doing all it can in terms of public safety. He said the problem of drug traffic “impacts public safety from top to bottom” and he would like to be involved in the conversation to address that.

He said he would like to work with others to “identify, prioritize the funds that are available to dedicate the resources where they are most needed.”

McCoy said he wants to help York work with the county and with businesses. He said the city can also work with the county in terms of public safety. “There should be a way to coexist and help each other out.”

McCoy said he would like to learn more about the police and fire staffing issue, noting that “every decision we made, you had to look at the money and where it was coming from.”

He also said the city should work with the York school district on recreation issues such as sharing athletic fields for local recreation programs. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for the city to do that,” he said.

Shiflet said the city has some infrastructure needs, noting that York Place and other organizations have had to upgrade water lines because the existing lines were not sufficient. “This is an old city, and that’s part of the whole master plan, to upgrade over time as you can,” he said.

He also said there’s a limit on what individual families can do, which is why it’s important to diversify the tax base “without destroying the charm we have as a small historic city.”

Shiflet said he would take a collaborative approach to addressing issues.

“Any success I’ve had in leadership, I’ve found that more success is able to be accomplished when there’s a unified effort, and when people reach a consensus and work together as a team,” he said. “I’d like to be a part of that.”

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