Richland County Council member Jim Manning is being challenged in the Nov. 8 election in District 8 by Todd Phillips. The State’s editorial board sent questionnaires to both candidates. Mr. Phillips’ responses are below.
Year of birth: 1972
Political party: Republican
Position you are seeking: Richland County Council District 8
Please limit your response to each of the following questions to about 100 words.
1. What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position? (Be specific.)
While I may not have political experience, I have over ten years of experience leading people, managing budgets, negotiating multi-million dollar deals and developing strategies to increase sales (budgets) and minimize costs. Two of my strengths are negotiating and developing/leading people, which have served me well in multiple positions over the years.
As Richland County continues to face a growing budget and limited revenue increases, outside of the Penny Tax Program funds, Council has to do a better job of identifying ways to provide the essential services to the people. Additionally, the Council needs to create an environment where businesses and people want to invest in this community. My ability to work with others to find an equitable solution, which places the citizens of Richland County first, will be a significant benefit to the Council. The current Council has a difficult time saying no to wasteful programs and continue to deny programs which benefit the community as a whole. Only focusing on one particular group of constituents, instead of the needs of all the people, minimizes the effectiveness of the Council and wastes taxpayer’s dollars.
My strength as a leader and developer of people has helped enable people to do far more than what they thought was possible on their own. This ability can be a huge benefit to Richland County by working with the County Manager and Departments Heads to increase productivity throughout the county and create opportunities for those to work within it. Government can be much more productive with the hard earned money of the taxpayers as long as we have a vision that is shared by others. We have great people and resources in our county which continue to be under-utilized which limits our potential. I will help lead the Council and these resources to develop a vision for Richland County not just for the next four years but for the next fifty.
I may not be the most “qualified” candidate in 2016 however, I have a passion for the people of Richland County and South Carolina as a whole. This passion will help the Council create opportunities for the county to prosper and the government to serve the people in an efficient way which maximizes tax payer’s dollars. We, the citizens of Richland County, deserve to have a government which works for us, not for fellow politicians and friends of the same. It is time to create a new vision and leadership position for Richland County.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected? (100 words for each issue) Correct and develop better processes and plans for the Penny Tax Program. As we all know, the Billion Dollar Boondoggle has not lived up to the expectations extolled by the proponents of the tax. We cannot undo the tax, so we have to fix the problems created and ensure monies spent are within the guidelines set forth to the voters. Creating jobs for friends, fellow council members and business associates is not, and never should be, allowed by elected officials. It is our job to ensure taxpayer’s money is spent wisely.
Ensure the budgetary process maximizes taxpayer dollars and wasteful spending is eliminated from the budget. As someone who has done business with the county in the past, I have been able to see the inner workings of the departments and how decisions are made. While I realize this is government, we can bring sound business practices to the Council and hold people accountable for the work they do and the money they spend doing it. Richland County has to become more efficient to deliver the services needed to optimize growth for the community.
Smart growth. Richland County has had very poor zoning guidelines and has not utilized them to grow in a smart way. We lack the infrastructure in the Northeast to support the housing which continues to be built, so 45-60 minute commute times have become the norm. Buildings continue to be built too close to major thoroughfares limiting the ability to widen and extend turn lanes for better traffic flow. Businesses do not want to locate in a county with poor roads and bad zoning. We have to place more money into roads to ensure growth.
3a. For non-incumbents: How would your approach to your job differ from the incumbent’s? Be knowledgeable and involved in the issues facing Richland County. My role will be to know the proposals, and the people behind them, so that when it is time to make decisions I am not simply voting with the party or majority, but rather making the right vote for the people of Richland. Too many times the incumbent has voted on the wrong side of the issues, what is feasible within the confines of the budget and what benefits the most citizens of the county. I will research and study the problems so that District 8 will have a representative who works to create a better community in which to live.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base. I am a strong believer in Term Limits for every elected office. I would say most elected officials would disagree with this statement, however if you cannot accomplish what you want to do in eight years, then you do not have the skills to be in the position in the first place.
5. What would you do to help restore voters’ confidence in the Richland County Council? The past four years have been very tumultuous for the Council. The vast majority of the problems stem from Council people either protecting people or only looking at the good of a small portion of Richland County. While you are elected by the people of your district, you are accountable to everyone. I will vote to do the right thing, make the fiscally prudent choices and help create a vision for what we can be for the next twenty years. We cannot be shortsighted in decision making or be ignorant of the impact the decisions we make will have on the County.
6. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics complaint filed against you? If so, please give the details. No
7. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details. No
8. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing? My wife and I have homeschooled our kids since kindergarten. It has been a great choice for our family and our situation. My house was flooded like so many others and I know the difficulty it has been to rebuild and find resources to help. As we continue to rebuild as a community, I want to help those who are still suffering, are homeless or do not know where to turn due to a circumstance they could control.
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: 12 years
Family (name of spouse, number and ages of children if at home, number of grown children):
Sara Phillips (spouse), 5 Children at home ages 17, 15, 12, 10, 9
Education: B.A. History & Physical Education, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
Current occupation/employer: Area Sales Manager, Staples Business Advantage
Employment, military and volunteer history: Resume Attached for Employment History
Military- did not serve
Volunteer History- Church of the Apostles: Senior Warden, Finance Committee, Men’s Group Leader, Lead organizer for multiple mission trip fundraisers
Streetside Homeless Ministry volunteer
Youth Baseball coach- North Trenholm Baptist Church (2013-2016)
Finlay Scholars- supplies coordinator for the Back to School Bash (2014, 2015, 2016)
Please list all public offices to which you’ve been elected, when and where: None to date
Please list year and office of any unsuccessful runs for public office: 1st time candidate
Other political and government experience: None
Key endorsements you’ve received: