Aiken Co. Council candidates make final pitches before Feb. 5 primary

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 4, 2013

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Voting opens Tuesday morning for County Council District 6 in Aiken County. The district up-for-grabs includes parts of Aiken and a lot of smaller areas like Graniteville, Warrenville, Gloverville, Couchton and Eureka. The seat opened in November after Councilman Charles Barton became Aiken County's auditor.

The first candidate is actually the wife of Charles Barton. Lynette Lowe-Barton, a Graniteville native, is running to fill her husband's seat.

"I'd like to see if we can bring in more jobs. I'd like to work with economic development,” she said, adding that she’d also like to see several county-owned plots of land developed.

She now runs their radiator shop in Aiken and says it wouldn't be a conflict of interest to work alongside her auditor husband.

"As far as conflict of interest, no, I don't see any there. His office is controlled by the South Carolina Department of Revenue, and he answers to them, not county council,” Barton said.

The next candidate is John McMichael. He’s currently Business Development Officer with Hutson Etherredge Companies in Aiken. He’s worked in the insurance industry for 38 years. He was born in Graniteville.

"We need to attract new businesses into Aiken, whether it be through small businesses or large businesses, like Bridgestone,” McMichael said.

He says he's already familiar working with the people who bring business and jobs. He’s already attracted endorsements from Council Chairman Ronnie Young and former councilman Rick Osbon. But some say McMichael, who lives in Aiken, would be out of touch with the rural district.

"That's definitely not true because it doesn't just take the district that I'm representing, but you have to represent the entire community, the entire county,” he said.

Finally, Phil Napier is also running for the seat, and he’s held the seat before. Currently, he manages his small hardware store and has acted as Graniteville's volunteer fire chief for decades. Many days he can be seen mowing along roads in his hometown.

"For several years, I've basically done it myself -- gone out and did a lot of weed-eating and grass-cutting -- because I don't want to see our communities rundown and look bad,” Napier said.

Some would say his name carries controversy. However, he says his goal is doing what taxpayers want.

"You'll probably have some candidate who will want to be interviewed with politicians standing behind them. I stand on my own platform. I don't need backup,” he said.

He says his platform would be cutting wasteful spending. He says the new county complex is an example of wasteful spending. He says the building, which is currently under construction, reminds him of the Taj Mahal and adds that he’s also for term limits for council members and the chairman.

The primary will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All three candidates are Republican. Unless a Democrat write-in candidate pops up, Tuesday's winner will take the seat.

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