HARDY KING - IRMO'S MAYOR

REAL INDEPENDENCE
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One of the issues I want to address is comments made by Mr. Nash about independence on Irmo Council.
 
So let's talk real independence, really.


In 2003 my wife and I were deciding about me running for Irmo Town Council. Based on some stuff I had witnessed by certain council members, a lot of red flags were raised. She and I were talking, and as Christians, were praying. Should I get involved in our community and make sure there was someone on Council that was looking after the citizens.

At that time I was attending a local church and met one of the past Irmo elected officials. He had mentioned I should give a certain council member a call. That Sunday afternoon I called that councilmember to get some information about running for office in Irmo, how much time was involved in serving, how much time and money it took to campaign for Council, and other questions. He asked when was I thinking about running. I told him the election coming up. I was informed that I couldn't run, or I shouldn't run, that “they” had already picked out who was running, and it would be best if I met the right people, maybe served on a planning commission, and then “they” would let me know when it was my turn. I said, “oh, I didn't know things worked like that, I thought anybody could run”. I was told no, that I wouldn't win, I wouldn't get any support. I informed him that even though my wife and I hadn't finished discussing it, and even though I hadn't finish praying or heard from God, that I just so happened to have $35 in my wallet, and I would file the next morning. He told me, I would never win, they would work against me. I said I would keep running until I do win.

Seven people filed in 2003, Kathy won election that year, Harvey won reelection, Barry came in fourth, and I came in fifth. The difference between 3rd place and 5th place was about 10-15%. 6th and 7th had maybe 10 votes between them. I lost, but I knocked on every door in Irmo that year, approximately 4500 homes, 700 came out and voted. Early in 2004, Greg White announced he was resigning due to a job transfer and would be moving out of town. A special election was called for April 2004. I had available signs, so I decided to run again. Five people filed, Barry Walker won that year. Another individual came in 2nd, I came in 3rd with one vote between us. Again 4th and 5th had maybe 10 votes between them.

I learned something about campaigning, and I saw the fear in the eyes of “they” that night. They knew I was going to be an issue. I picked up the nickname “the town watchdog”. Rod Shealy referred to me as that in many articles of the Irmo News. I was on the scent, I was on the trail. A regular election cycle was coming up in 2005. Our elections were held in September at that time. I filed to run. Barry Walker was up for re-election, and Paul Younginer was up for re-election. I took the knowledge that I had learned about campaigning, knocking on doors, and being the watchdog for the citizens. Barry came in 1st that year, I came in 2nd, and I beat the incumbent by 20-something votes.

I started serving, and people started coming to me trying to sway me into their camp, their cliche, their group. It didn't work, it hasn't worked. I am still very independent. That is one reason why the Susan's, the Leslie's, the Pat's, the Joe's of Irmo, can't stand it because they have no sway or influence over me like they do Barry and multiple others. Some make decisions based on the direction the wind is blowing, some make decisions based upon whether they are up for re-election or not, they promise to be everybody's friend and have all the answers. Barry has actually told the membership at Youngs Chapel AME that he wasn't going to run again. I had a call earlier this year from someone about an issue, and they told me they had spoken to Councilman Walker about his assistance. He informed them he wouldn't be running for re-election and wouldn't be able to help. So they asked if I would. Barry  says he is all about property rights now, yet a couple years back pushed for a smoking ban on owners of businesses, removing their right to decide how to operate their businesses. He pushed for dilapidated building regulations that infringed upon a property owners right to maintain their building as they saw fit. He fought and voted against allowing citizens to have chickens in their backyard, infringing upon their right to make that choice themselves, and many other issues, which I will bring to this website during this election. Walker doesn't walk the walk, but he is good at talking the talk out both sides of his mouth. Councilman Walker has infringed upon people's rights, property rights for years, but it is an election time, and politician's say what they have to say to get elected. That's not really being independent.

Now it was okay, back when Jake Moore wanted to influence Council, wanted to have sway over the council, could get Council to do all kinds of things he wanted, and controlled a few of them like puppets on a string. I've even heard folks comment about him texting Councilmembers what to say, and how to vote, during council meetings. Some people have a great way of accusing you of doing stuff, and being a certain way, and calling it wrong, when they do it all the time. I am independent, I don't sway to the wind, the heat of the moment, the mud slinging. I've stood up to bullies all my life, I've pounded a few, I've made a few wet their pants, cry uncle, and go home crying to Mama. That bully facebook page is nothing new. The only difference is they are not in high school anymore, but some of them do act like it. They make laws now about bullying kids on the internet, social media, and look at the example their facebook page is setting for their kids and the youth of Irmo. It has even led to vandalism of one person's home that didn't agree with them on that page.

Council has been addressing a lot of issues in the past year relating to neighborhood blight, which includes parking issues, and also the Town's garbage service. In the process of trying to terminate that contract we discovered that the procedure for terminating the contract in that contract was different than the procedure in our Town ordinance. When dealing with the parking issue, I discovered one ordinance saying you can have one unlicensed vehicle per property as long as it was covered with a car cover, another ordinance saying you could only have unlicensed vehicles if they were parked in your garage. We also have an ordinance that mirrors SC State Law that says you are allowed to park in the street with exceptions to not causing safety issues or impeding traffic flow which directly conflicts with another one that says you can't park in the travel portion of the road. One should have been deleted at the time the second one was passed, or clarified as to what each meant. All these things were done under our previous Town Attorney's watch, as our legal counsel. Hhmm. There are many such issues that I could bring up and discuss, but my point being, his position was our legal counsel, not a political consultant, and not a sixth councilmember. He even admitted that to the Irmo News in an article. When he was also admitting that he knew he had politically got involved in campaigning for political candidates to Irmo Town Council as an appointed officer of the Town. But I guess to some people, since he was their friend, all that didn't matter. Some people talk about independence, but what they don't want to talk about is you being independent of them. As long as you are in their cliche, their group, everything is fine. It's okay for them to support candidates, but it is not okay with them for me to support candidates. Others have been getting involved in town politics for years, as was an appointed officer of our Town, but it appears what is good for the goose, evidently isn't good for the gander.

I have been involved in town politics since 2003. I have helped to get other people elected, I believe people helped me to get elected, it's called politics. As a citizen and as an elected official it is alright. What is frowned upon by the ethics commission is Town Employees, town-appointed officials, getting involved in Town elections,and town-elected officials coercing staff to support them in their campaign and/or disguising town staff assistance in obtaining information for their current campaigns. In other words, asking staff members to get stuff for them as an incumbent, when really you are using it for your campaign, when they can clearly get the information themselves, all by themselves.

In the last election I did work with two candidates, gave them advice to help them get elected, and they won. Barry also campaigned on behalf of a candidate and an incumbent running for re-election, even to the extent of putting their political signs on a town golf cart and riding it in the Okra Strut which is a clear ethics violation. He got charged and fined for doing so. Jake Moore, as a town-appointed official, also campaigned on behalf of a candidate running in that election, even had the Arbor Day involved in political campaigning which goes against IRS rules for 501(c)(3) being involved in political campaigns. I never heard Mr. Nash or others complain about that, but of course, they are friends.

I also saw an article in the Irmo News last year where Kathy and another incumbent, Harvey Hoots, and another candidate, Michael Harris, write a letter to the Irmo News how they supported Paul Younginer for Mayor. I never heard Mr. Nash or others complain about that. I did campaign for the other two candidates, according to my polling, after finishing up knocking on doors on one side of Lake Murray Blvd line, I had about a 70%-30% lead over my opponent. I decided I would rather win with one vote, and two new candidates, than I would continue to serve under the other possibility. So I did start campaigning on behalf of two other candidates. Which by the way, all political consultants will tell you that's a bad mistake, you could lose a lot of votes over that, you don't campaign for others, and you don't do it when you are running for re-election. But I took a gamble, I took a risk, it paid off. The two candidates I supported won. I would say that would be a very independent thing to do. The candidates whom Barry, Kathy, Jake and others supported, lost. Have the two candidates I supported always voted with me? No. They are very independent themselves. Neither are part of any cliche or group or beholden to any one, myself included. They are beholden to the people of Irmo. That is why I supported them, because of their independence. That is why I will support others, and when I support soomeone, it will be because of their independence.

Irmo, South Carolina