New Pickens County Council members ready to start terms

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

PICKENS — Four new Pickens County Council members will take office in January, and they bring with them desire to improve council’s relationship with not only the community but also neighboring municipalities.

“We have an opportunity to work together, to mend fences,” said Roy Costner III of Liberty, a businessman who defeated incumbent Neil Smith in the June 28 runoff for council District 4. “We know we have a lot to do.”

Costner, along with Wes Hendricks, who won election to the Pickens area of District 3, new Easley-area District 5 councilman Chris Bowers and new District 6 representative Carl Hudson of the Dacusville area, met for breakfast last week with the Pickens County School Board.

The school board invited the newly elected council members to break in an effort to engage in open dialogue and forge a positive working relationship from the very beginning.

“We all have a passion for students and are anxious to begin (service),” Costner said.

Hendricks agrees, adding that he is a long time special education teacher at Pickens High School.

“I’m very passionate about education — it’s our greatest tool to fight poverty,” Hendricks said.

Bowers, who is a nurse at Baptist Easley Hospital and will take over the council seat being vacated by outgoing chairman Jennifer Willis, said council members should always remember they are elected to serve the community.

“We’re not in it for ourselves,” Bowers said.

The new council members-elect say they want to establish improved communication with the citizens of Pickens County as well as neighboring municipalities — something that has been a major complaint about county councils past and present.

“I think communication is critical as well as being transparent,” Hendricks said, adding he has been invited by the City of Clemson to speak at a municipal program this summer. “All of the new members are very good with social media, and it’s important to tell the whole truth and keep people informed. We also respect each other and people’s opinions as well.”

Bowers agreed, adding, “A lot of times, people feel left out when maybe it’s just finding another way to be connected.”

“It’s up to us as a group to get things out,” Bowers said. “I think communication between us is not the problem but communication with those throughout the county. I think sometimes things get done and people wonder why they did it. My goal is to let people know why we did it.”

Costner said he believes the more council gets in touch with the people, “the more they’re going to want to be involved.” That involvement not only consists of county council but also, Costner added, the school board and sheriff’s office as well.

“I think we have a great opportunity to do that — to not just know the people, but know the issues,” he said. “We all represent each of our areas but also have a county vision. We have a lot to learn and there’s a lot of issues going on here we’re just finding out about and want to find out as much as we can. We look forward to going out in the community.”

Hendricks said that while the new council members plan to use their strengths in social media for improved communication, they also plan to continue the old fashioned way of meeting and greeting people.

“We’re all visible to the public and aren’t hiding behind a computer screen,” Hendricks said.

Hudson, who is a retired deputy with 31 years of law enforcement experience and is assuming the council seat being vacated by Tom Ponder, said he thinks it is “a good thing” that the four newly elected county council members come from different backgrounds and bring something different to the table.

“Anytime you have a diverse group that is involved in several directions, it’s the group that has a better idea in making decisions,” Hudson said. “I feel good about it and think it’s going to be a positive thing.

“A long time ago, I worked for a municipality as a city police officer, so I think we will have a good relationship.”

Hudson said he is pleased that the county is in a strong financial position.

“Our county is in a good position right now and we want to build on that,” he said.

The four new council members will join the two remaining council members in vice chairman Trey Whitehurst, who represents the District 2 area of Central and Six Mile, and Ensley Feemster, who represents the Clemson area in District 1.