By Paul Gable
For the third week in a row, the Richardson for Mayor of Conway campaign has run a full-page ad in the local newspaper which is long on newsprint but says nothing of substance.
This has been a trend around the campaign since the hyperbolic article in a local blog announcing Richardson’s run. That particular article spoke of a “groundbreaking moment” in the political history of Conway and a “compelling message” for all residents. We are still waiting to hear the message.
Last week’s ad spoke of Richardson’s “monumental task” of “overseeing a budget exceeding 900 million dollars” and “ensuring the well-being of over 7,000 employees” when he was Chairman of the Horry County Board of Education. The numbers are used to impress.
Richardson was a good chairman for Horry County Schools. His signature achievement during that tenure was working with district staff and other board members through the mess Covid created for enclosed public spaces. Of course, the contributions of staff and other board members are never mentioned.
The same Covid problems were true in the City of Conway where Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy consistently called it a “team effort” to keep city services running.
As with all public agencies, Richardson received a considerable amount of help from the school district staff during that time. The same goes for the budget.
Whether it be the city, county or school district, staff prepares an initial budget document. Most items in a public budget carry over from one year to the next. Budget consideration goes through the committee process where it is tweaked and on to the full council or board for a possible final tweaking before being approved.
It is neither a monumental task nor is it a one man show. It is merely a process which goes on year after year, in public agencies, regardless of who sits on council or the board.
Ensuring the “well-being” of public employees is almost entirely the responsibility of the administrative staff of a public agency. The school board has a superintendent and the city or county has an administrator to handle those duties. The board or council hires and, if necessary, fires the administrator or superintendent but the day to day running of the agency is basically hands off for the board or council.
Just under seven weeks remain before election day. Maybe during that time, the Richardson campaign will get down to specifics of programs or issues that Richardson would advocate as mayor.
Or maybe Conway is doing pretty well, as the talk on the street among citizens and business owners indicates, and there really aren’t compelling issues to discuss. Maybe hyperbolic ‘word salad’ is all the campaign has to offer.