Sound-off: Ward 4 candidates answer the questions you asked

The Easley Citizen curated a set of 12 questions based on the issues and conversations in our community leading up to the special election for the Easley City Counsel Ward 4 election on April 25, 2023. Both sets of questions were copied and emailed to the 2 candidates. Both candidates emailed back their responses within 24 hours.

These are their responses in their entirety, unedited, including any links that were shared in the responses. To keep it fair, we alternated the responses between both candidates as well. We hope this will help Ward 4 make a more informed decision at the polling booth.

Learn more about Gene Patterson and David Jones here.

Do you think our Main Street/Downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?

David Jones: I’ve heard Yes and No. Parking is a major factor for customers and visitors. Communication from the city and promotional outlets could improve. Business owners need to be able to freely share what improvements or what they think the city and others can do to improve access to their success. As a business leader, I will listen, take ideas to the city for a plan and communicate with business owners how the city will proceed. There is American Rescue Plan Fund (ARPA) money that is intended for infrastructure.

Gene Patterson: Yes I believe DT is successful, but I believe we should continue progress on revitalizing the existing structures in the heart of our great city. 

What’s more important for our city right now: Building new homes and commercial space or rehabbing/expanding/better utilizing our existing homes and storefronts?

Gene Patterson: I believe revitalizing existing spaces is more important lending to the beautification of those areas. 

David Jones: I believe we need to take care of what we have before taking on more and more homes and expanding the city’s border.
We need a firm foundation and that begins by repairing the stormwater damage to homes and neighborhoods.
The city MUST adhere to ordinances. What good are rules if they aren’t enforced.
Quality of life …. Our quality of living in Easley is being swallowed by unorganized growth. We’ve already seen an increase in sewer rates and our taxes will ultimately rise to cover the costs of infrastructure, not required of developers. This is why LEADERSHIP MATTERS.

Some people say we have traffic issues. What do you think? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

David Jones: Attending council meetings and hearing citizens concerns, YES, there are traffic issues.  Everyone that drives in Easley knows we have traffic congestion.  You can’t add thousands of homes, resulting in thousands of additional cars and not expect traffic congestion.  The planning required for such expansion was inadequate.  Where are the turning lanes?   The traffic lights?  The only way to have direction is to have a leader.  As a Navy veteran and a physician, I know how to diagnosis and apply remedies.  Ward 4 needs a leader to chart the course.

Gene Patterson: Yes Easley has traffic issues at certain times of the day. I believe we can ease the congestion by taking a more active role in our relationship with SCDOT to find successful solutions for easier travel. 

If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

Gene Patterson: Requiring more distance between  residential structures and adding natural borders along adjoining properties. 

David Jones: ENFORCEMENT…………you can have all the rules in the world, but if they are not enforced…you have inconsistency.  We need uniformity, compliance and accountability.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our city?

David Jones: Since there isn’t much media in Easley. The city needs to transform/improve their webpage and facebook site. I will push for the city to step-up their IT presentation on these sites. If they don’t change, I’ll use other platforms to keep Ward 4 and all citizens informed of meetings and developments. When I started campaign, there were citizens not aware their Ward 4 councilman had passed. They were disappointed, the city had not posted anything their representative that was in his third term.

Gene Patterson: I am a huge encourager for citizens to voice their concerns to their ward representative. I will do my best to encourage that communication. 

If elected, what 3 steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

Gene Patterson: 1. Continue to seek and apply for State and Federal grants. 2.  Be mindful of reasonable departmental operations. 3. Review financial strategies and look for cost effective alternatives. 

David Jones: When elected, I will request complete financial reports and ask how information is gathered, by whom and who is ultimately responsible for preparing the reports.  Clear, concise information is a necessity to understand our financial status.  Our financial resources must be used to strengthening our city.

If you received a $1MM grant to use for the city in any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

David Jones: Traffic and road repair.  1 million dollars will not go far, but it is a start. 

Gene Patterson: Plan a budget to help prioritize needs of the  citizens, local businesses and city departments. 

What is your opinion of the growth that is occurring in the City of Easley?

Gene Patterson: Although growth is necessary, I believe we can form a plan to be more responsible with the rate of growth. 

David Jones: It is too much, too fast.  Developers are not having to contribute to the basics needed to accommodate services required.  In my research, I have found news articles reporting where developers are required to pay for sidewalks, sewer, save green space.  One example, listed below.  Developer wants to build hundreds of homes on land along Reedy River ( DiPretoro said BRD Land & Investment also plans to pay for improvements that will allow a sewer system to be installed in the development. Presently it appears as if out-of-state mega developers come into the city, build dense developments and leave. Homeowners and the city are left to fund services required.  New community members need trash, Police, Fire Protection, improved traffic flow and more.   Impact fees and taxes will not cover all these costs.  (1/2 of fees collected is slated for Parks and Recreation, the other half is divided into 3 departments, police, fire and transportation.  These are high cost responders. Our police and fire departments must have updated equipment and personnel to service these expanded areas.

If elected, how will you work with the County and SCDOT to get infrastructure upgrades?

David Jones: With Easley being in Pickens County, the city belongs to GPATS, (Greenville, Pickens Area Transportation Study  GPATS | Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study )  Being part of this group and with Greenville growing faster than Easley, Greenville receives the vast majority of funding for transportation priorities.  By attending these meetings, I will push our legislators which direct GPATS funding to have more funds allocated to Easley or consider alternatives for Easley.  We must rely on OUR elected state representatives to bring funding to our city.

Gene Patterson: Taking a more active role in the relationship with communication within the two entities. 

We heard of a homeless camp in the City of Easley. How would you look to solve that issue?

Gene Patterson: Coordinating with civil organizations and church ministries under a common commitment to help our homeless citizens. Seeking out state supported resources that may be available. 

David Jones: This is a multi-faceted issue, involving the city, the county and local agencies.  As the ward 4 representative, I would recommend a task force be formed from all involved agencies to plan to develop a multi-pronged plan.  By definition, they move from one area to another.  In the city, into the county.  Moving them from one area to another doesn’t eradicate the problem.  It must a be a clearly defined plan.

How would you look to solve the parking issue by the Silos and Foot Hill Plays House?

David Jones: The city owns that parking lot and it needs to be paved and striped. 

Gene Patterson: On the weekends the parking is very busy. Most weekdays the parking is ok. It may be possible to look at property to put a small parking lot to help. 

What neighborhood do you live in? Why? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?

Gene Patterson: Hagood Park area because it is in the city but cozy. The secondary roads are named after my wife’s grandparents. That was a sign to settle here. We love the all parts of the city from restaurants to local businesses to the bigger retail stores. We enjoy being in a small train town. Most things you need can be found right here. 

David Jones: Woodside.  This is the area where my parents and my grandmother resided.  This area is home to me.  I truly enjoy Nalley Park, the dog park at Haygood Park and other hiking trails in the area.  This is my hometown, I love it and want to preserve it’s atmosphere as much as possible.

Easley City Counsel Ward 4 voting guide.