RICHLAND COUNTY TREASURER

Voters Guide: Richland Co. treasurer David Adams and newcomer Joe McEachern II face off in primary

cclick@thestate.com June 7, 2014 

The race for Richland County treasurer pits veteran David Adams against Joseph “Joe” McEachern II, the son of a state legislator.

And while that connection likely will give the younger McEachern cachet among some Richland County Democrats, Adams has the lion’s share of support among the region’s heavyweights, including former Gov. Jim Hodges, Second District Rep. Jim Clyburn, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and members of the Richland County legislative delegation.

Still, Adams is taking no chances and is highlighting the efficiency he has brought to the treasurer’s office, including packaging car tax payments with the annual DMV registration.

Former Richland County councilwoman Bernice Scott, an Adams supporter, said the June 10 primary comes down to someone who has compassion and experience vs. a newcomer who has limited financial experience.

“I met David Adams the first time he ran and I felt the compassion he had for people and their land,” Scott said. “David always collected the tax money but he always found a way to find families to pay the taxes,” particularly in instances where heirs had moved away and did not realize a bill was due.

“He is not about just putting up the land and selling it,” she said.

But Rep. Leon Howard, D-Richland, a McEachern supporter, believes McEachern offers some innovations that would aid families even more: he speaks of instituting a program where heirs would have the first rights to bid on properties with outstanding taxes.

“That is a huge plus because in the African-American community we don’t have generations of wealth and inheritance,” he said.

Howard said McEachern, owner of McEachern Agency on Wilson Boulevard, would “bring a breath of fresh air and diversity” to the treasurer’s office.

“McEachern is well-connected to a diverse community,” Howard said. “Look at his resume, what he is involved in – youth, seniors. I think this young man will bring a fresh approach to the office.” This is McEachern’s second run for public office; he was unsuccesful in seeking a Richland 1 school board seat.

The two candidates squared off on Don Frierson’s The Urban Scene WGCV-AM radio show twice before the primary, with McEachern pressing Adams about business tax collections and Adams countering that his office collects between 97 percent and 98 percent of owed taxes annually.

The contest is important, Frierson noted, because whoever wins the primary wins the election. There is no Republican challenger.

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