Last night I had the opportunity to speak (with some other candidates) at a Campaign Barbecue sponsored by a group of
citizens. It was a great opportunity to meet voters. I thought it was primarily a meet and greet until we were asked by one of the hosts to take the microphone and deliver a 2-minute speech, highlighting our platforms.
Halfway through mine, I was interrupted by applause. What did I say? This:
“We need a stronger commitment to the arts, to community and cultural programs and services. This includes things like the Swamp Rabbit Trail, an Arts & Cultural Center…”
Some in our community say we do not need an Arts and/or Cultural Center. They say we have adequate access to arts & culture in Mauldin and Fountain Inn. “Support our sister cities” is their rally cry.
I disagree with that. It’s not that we shouldn’t support Fountain Inn and Mauldin or take advantage of the opportunities they offer. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own.
And the 140 people who erupted in applause last night clearly agree. They’re not the only ones—every where I go, I hear the same support from the people of our city. The people of our city want access to the arts here in Simpsonville. They want the city government to encourage and support and do its part in getting the Swamp Rabbit Trail in and through Simpsonville. They agree—now is the time to focus on getting that done.
And that’s not just because they think it would be cool to have a community theater right here in town. Not just because they want a safe, pleasant place to ride bikes and enjoy nature. Those are reasons. But in talking with them, it’s clear that they know what I know (and have been saying throughout this campaign):
Community development is economic development.
Just look at what the Swamp Rabbit Trail (SRT) has done for Traveler’s Rest. If you don’t know about the economic impact it’s had on that city, you should stop in one day soon. And see what SRT could do for Simpsonville.
According to the Greenville Rec website, the SRT served 501,000 people last year, yielding $6.7 million in tourism revenue. So not only would the SRT improve our quality of life in Simpsonville by offering a new opportunity for recreation, it could also be a serious boon to our economy. It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion: we need to bring the SRT to Simpsonville, sooner rather than later.
Our city government needs to commit to these things as part of a long-term goal for the city to provide access to the arts and to create economic development through community development. The city government—lead by its council and mayor—should be doing everything within its power to encourage growth in Simpsonville in these ways.
I get that. So do the everyday citizens who live here. It’s time to commit to making it happen. And that’s why I’m running for city council.