Get to know the four can­di­dates run­ning for seats on Lexington Town Coun­cil

The State (Sunday) - - Local - BY IS­ABELLA CUETO icueto@thes­tate.com

Four can­di­dates are seek­ing three open seats on the Lexington Town Coun­cil.

The three can­di­dates who re­ceive the most votes will be elected. The can­di­dates are: Hazel Liv­ingston, Todd Lyle, Kathy Maness and Todd Shevchik. The can­di­dates will serve four-year terms.

Coun­cil mem­bers are paid a $10,500 salary, mayor pro-tem makes $11,500 and the mayor makes $12,500 a year.

HAZEL LIV­INGSTON

Liv­ingston was first elected to coun­cil in 1998, and has been nick­named the “ma­tri­arch” by coun­cil mem­bers be­cause she is one of the long­est-serv­ing mem­bers on coun­cil. She has served as mayor protem since 2004. Liv­ingston is also a li­ai­son for the town’s traf­fic com­mit­tee. She works in sales and cus­tomer re­la­tions for Green Earth Ser­vices, a land­scap­ing busi­ness in Columbia.

“I thought last time would be my last hur­rah,” she said. “And one of the rea­sons I de­cided to re-run is no one seems to want to cham­pion and work for the green space, ... And be­cause we do have so much youth on our coun­cil that I do feel you need some di­ver­sity,” she said.

Liv­ingston has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the preser­va­tion and cre­ation of green space through­out the town — a prom­ise she said she keeps to for­mer coun­cil mem­ber Vir­ginia Hyl­ton, who re­tired the first year Liv­ingston was on coun­cil.

“We’re build­ing all this stuff and it’s won­der­ful — I love Chick-fil-a, I love Star­bucks, but we need a place where fam­i­lies can go hang out and play Fris-

bee and foot­ball and meet other fam­i­lies...that’s kind of been my pas­sion,” Liv­ingston said.

She also spear­headed beau­ti­fi­ca­tion ef­forts that were funded by pro­ceeds from the an­nual Wine Walk on Main Street. She was also ac­tive in the restora­tion of the Pal­metto Col­le­giate In­sti­tute, which is now an event venue.

Liv­ingston said she would use an­other term on coun­cil to com­plete an over­haul of Vir­ginia Hyl­ton Park, the old­est park in the town. The ren­o­va­tions would en­large the park from 6 to 9 acres, bring back a koi pond, in­stall art made by com­mu­nity mem­bers and add sev­eral “pocket parks,” sub­di­vi­sions for dif­fer­ent vis­i­tors — yo­gis, teenagers, pic­nic-go­ers.

“I’m hop­ing that we don’t use any tax dol­lars on it, that we do it through fundrais­ers and do­na­tions,” she said.

While work­ing on the re­design, Liv­ingston as­sem­bled a com­mit­tee of com­mu­nity mem­bers and also sur­veyed lo­cal res­i­dents. She said she would use a sim­i­lar ap­proach to en­sure coun­cil bet­ter com­mu­ni­cates with town res­i­dents about po­ten­tial projects.

Some of her other goals are to cre­ate more walk­ing trails and small green spa­ces through­out the town, bring more pre­pared foods, mu­sic and art to the town farm­ers mar­ket, or­ga­nize a weekly “night out” to pro­mote Main Street re­tail stores and find al­ter­nate fund­ing streams for the town’s traf­fic in­fra­struc­ture plan.

“I have sev­eral ideas of how we could fund some of that stuff by work­ing with our leg­is­la­tors,” she said.

“It’s coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to fig­ure out how to put the green spa­ces in, how to get the roads fixed, how to work with the school [dis­trict] to make sure that the schools are there for the com­mu­ni­ties that are com­ing in and that our busi­nesses can be sup­ported,” she said.

TODD LYLE

Lyle was first elected to coun­cil in May dur­ing a spe­cial elec­tion to fill the un­ex­pired term of Ted Stam­boli­tis, who re­signed. Lyle owns a real es­tate bro­ker­age and is a part­ner at Reeves & Lyle law firm in Columbia. Lyle is a ma­jor in the Army Re­serve and is on the board of Mis­sion Lexington.

He grad­u­ated from Lexington High School. In 2003, he earned a bach­e­lors in civil en­gi­neer­ing from The Ci­tadel and in 2015 he grad­u­ated from the USC law school fol­low­ing a one-year de­ploy­ment to Iraq.

This is Lyle’s first time in elected of­fice, which he said is an as­set to coun­cil.

“An op­por­tu­nity for a new look at things, a fresh set of eyes, some type of change, is a good thing as we’re evolv­ing as a so­ci­ety,” he said.

Should he be re­elected, Lyle said his fo­cus will be on the long-term suc­cess of the town, steer­ing coun­cil to­ward “de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion.”

“This is my home­town and I want to make sure we grow the right way, be­cause we can’t stop it from grow­ing nec­es­sar­ily, but we can make de­ci­sions and af­fect gov­er­nance by look­ing through the lens of, ‘Does this make sense, 20,30,40 years from now?’”

Part of the shift from short-term to long-term plan­ning in­volves con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial im­pacts of de­vel­op­ment and be­ing “care­ful” when ap­prov­ing cer­tain ex­pan­sions, Lyle said.

Traf­fic is one of Lyle’s top pri­or­i­ties, he said, as well as im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with lo­cal res­i­dents. He said he would like town staff to hire a so­cial me­dia man­ager who can en­sure there is trans­parency and a con­sis­tent flow of in­for­ma­tion, in­stead of a monthly news­let­ter.

KATHY MANESS

Maness has been a coun­cil mem­ber since Novem­ber 2004. She was re­elected in 2008 and in 2012. Maness is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Pal­metto State Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and was the first South Carolinian to serve as na­tional pres­i­dent of Women In Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment. She is on the board of di­rec­tors for the Na­tional League of Cities.

Maness is also a li­ai­son for the town’s plan­ning com­mis­sion and his­toric preser­va­tion com­mit­tee and has been on school im­prove­ment coun­cils for 20 years, in­clud­ing the River Bluff High School im­prove­ment coun­cil cur­rently.

She grad­u­ated from USC with a bach­e­lors in el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion and a mas­ters de­gree in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion. She is a for­mer teacher — she taught third grade at Er­win El­e­men­tary in Lan­caster County.

Maness is the sec­ond most se­nior coun­cil mem­ber. She has been on coun­cil through­out the in­cep­tion and de­vel­op­ment of the Ice­house Am­phithe­ater in down­town Lexington, as well as the ad­di­tion of new parks and the road im­prove­ment plan.

She said one of her goals, if she is re­elected, would be to im­prove traf­fic and con­tinue the road im­prove­ments. She also wants to con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing for ed­u­ca­tion and pri­or­i­tize the thoughts and opin­ions of town res­i­dents.

“My tagline when I ran the first time was, ‘New lead­er­ship that lis­tens.’ I’ve taken out the ‘new.’ I think it’s very im­por­tant to lis­ten to what the peo­ple say,” she said.

Maness also wants to con­tinue adding ameni­ties, she said, such as more and bet­ter parks. She said she wants to en­sure the town acts in a fis­cally re­spon­si­ble man­ner and the town is se­cure for res­i­dents.

“We need to make sure that our po­lice force has all the per­son­nel, equip­ment that they need to keep Lexington a safe place,” she said.

TODD SHEVCHIK

Shevchik is the only can­di­date who is not an in­cum­bent, though he pre­vi­ously served on coun­cil for 10 years, from 2006 to 2016. He was de­feated in the 2016 elec­tion, though he at­tributes his loss to peo­ple vot­ing only for the pres­i­den­tial race and not be­ing in­formed about other races.

Shevchik is the pub­lisher of Lexington Life mag­a­zine and said he brings a busi­ness mind to the coun­cil.

“I’m able to see fin­ished prod­ucts be­fore they’re done or con­cep­tu­al­ized. I’m also a col­lab­o­ra­tor, bring­ing coun­cil to­gether amidst dif­fer­ence and mak­ing sure ev­ery­one is heard,” he said.

While on coun­cil, Shevchik said he helped tighten zon­ing within the town, pass a sign­ing or­di­nance to place re­stric­tions on the heights and types of signs al­lowed in town. He also worked on road im­prove­ment plans, one of which has been com­pleted. If he is elected to coun­cil, Shevchik said he will try to get the road plans fast tracked to com­ple­tion.

“The plans are in place and I think peo­ple are go­ing to like it and I’m very proud of ap­prov­ing that and fig­ured out a way to get fund­ing for it that’s fair,” he said.

He said he would also seek fund­ing plans for fu­ture in­ter­sec­tion fixes, in­clud­ing on county, state and fed­eral roads, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil mem­bers.

Shevchik also said he wants to re­quire the Lexington 1 school dis­trict to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for road im­prove­ments and bud­get for in­fra­struc­ture up­grades when crunch­ing num­bers for school con­struc­tion.

School dis­tricts are re­quired to com­ply with a DOT man­ual that in­cludes sec­tions re­lated to school ac­cess and de­sign, but the road im­prove­ment out­comes are “not enough,” Shevchik said.

If he is elected, he said he will also push coun­cil to bud­get for one or two ad­di­tional town po­lice of­fi­cers and he will ad­vo­cate for “re­spon­si­ble growth.”

“As soon as you get con­tent, 10 years goes by. So we need to keep work­ing,” he said.

TIM DO­MINICK tdo­minick@thes­tate.com

Vot­ers turned out at the Lexington No. 1 precinct at Saxe Gotha Pres­by­te­rian to cast their bal­lot in the pri­mary elec­tion. The gen­eral elec­tion is Nov. 6.

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