Winkler pledges to turn down animosity on York County Council

jzou@heraldonline.comJune 5, 2014 

  • Robert Winkler

    Age: 49

    Address: 1133 Springlake Road, York

    Occupation: Financial adviser

    Education: High school diploma from Habersham Central High School in Georgia; accredited asset management specialist designation from the College for Financial Planning

    Elected offices held: None

    Community involvement: Past president, Greater York Chamber of Commerce; past president, York Rotary Club; board chairman, People Attempting To Help; member, York Place/Thompson Family Child Services South Carolina Advisory Council

    Family: Wife, Gina; three children; 10 grandchildren

Robert Winkler says he would work to bring more industry to western York County and put capital projects back atop the county’s agenda if elected to represent District 3 on the County Council.

Winkler is challenging incumbent Joe Cox in Tuesday’s Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Steve Love in the Nov. 4 general election.

The self-described “even-keeled” financial adviser promises to use his management experience to “settle down” what he calls animosity among council members and and to broker deals – striking a different tone than Cox, who is known for sparking heated debates at council meetings.

Winkler says he would work to provide District 3 residents with “living-wage” jobs by drawing moderately sized manufacturing to western York County.

“We need to do a better job of letting people know there are industrial-zoned properties that have infrastructure in the western part of the county,” said Winkler, pointing to areas near York. “The biggest thing for us is good, quality employment.”

While the county’s median income has increased, Winkler says, the median income among western York County residents has dropped over the same period.

Much of the county’s development efforts have been focused on the Interstate 77 corridor on the county’s eastern end, he said, but potential industrial sites near York offer comparable access to both I-77 and I-85. Those sites also are in unincorporated areas, which where businesses would pay lower taxes than those in municipalities like Rock Hill.

Winkler says he wouldn’t support recruiting industry that would disrupt the rural characteristicsof areas such as Sharon. Such companies could be encouraged to build in more suitable areas near York, he says.

The county needs to improve its roads and bridges, Winkler says, and he supports paying for highway maintenance with money from the county’s Pennies for Progress program, which spends dedicated sales tax funds only on new road construction. He says increased manufacturing would generate more money for the Pennies program, which could be spent on maintenance.

If elected to County Council, Winkler says he would scrutinize the county budget and be able to better account for spending.

“Our expenses go up at home,” Winkler said, and “we know the county’s expenses are increasing, that has to happen.” said Winkler.

He pointed to the success of Pennies for Progress, which has received countywide support in three referendums because taxpayers know on which projects the money will be spent.

“They don’t love it, but they don’t mind it,” he said of Pennies.

Winkler disagrees with Cox’s push to cut how much of the county’s hospitality tax revenue goes to the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Tourism is a huge part of our industry in this county, and our CVB does a good job,” Winkler said. “I don’t think we need to cut them a blank check, but I’m not for blanket cutting.”

When it comes to the county’s hospitality tax – which is collected primarily from businesses in unincorporated areas – Winkler said there are “pros and cons to not incorporating.”

“There’s always going to be some disparity,” he said of where hospitality tax dollars go. “That worries me when we start getting into proportional amounts.”

Winkler said the county should consider building another courthouse/law enforcement center in an area of eastern York County where property will cost less, as opposed to recent proposals to build it in Rock Hill.

“The longer it drags on, the more it’s going to cost us,” Winkler said of such capital projects.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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