Aiken Co. councilmen debate, trade jabs at forum

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- Despite a room full of candidates, arguably the most testy debate during a recent candidate forum put on by the Aiken Standard was between two men not running for office.

Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young debated Councilman Scott Singer about changing the county's government. Singer is for the referendum, but Young is strongly opposed.

"I would never support any effort to take away the right of people to vote for any office," said Chairman Young.

The change of government, if approved by voters, would make the county treasurer and auditor appointed, not elected.

"It's time Aiken County move into the 21st century and hire a professional treasurer," Singer said.

After the forum, Singer now knows the qualifications of the treasurer candidates. News 12 asked Singer what he thinks.

"None of the candidates currently running have any of the credentials, and in my opinion, only two come close," he said.

Meanwhile, Young says the system is working.

"It's certainly not going to please everybody. I don't please everybody," he said.

But Singer argued that no private business would allow someone with only a high school diploma to handle a half-billion dollar budget. Currently, you only need one to be the county's treasurer or auditor.

"We've had years and years to contact the legislature to ask them to change the qualifications," said Chairman Young, further stating that no one has petitioned the state to change the qualifications.

During the forum, Young made reference to what he called a personality conflict Singer and one of the candidates -- likely referring to Singer's sometimes chippy relationship with Councilman Charles Barton -- who's running for auditor, a position that'd also be appointed, not elected, if the referendum passes.

"Chairman Young knows that I've been pushing for this change for many many years, long before I had indication that Mr. Barton was running for auditor," Singer said. "Do I personally feel Mr. Barton's qualified to be the auditor of Aiken County? Mr. Barton doesn't hold those credentials."

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