City of Fountain Inn: Getting to Know Your Candidates

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Dive deep into the City of Fountain Inn’s upcoming elections on November 7 as we sit down with the candidates vying for your vote. Today, you’ll hear Ward 6 candidates Mack Blackstone and Bill Smith. Discover why they are running for office, what they think are the biggest issues facing the City of Fountain Inn, their priorities if elected, and more. We’ve included a lot of helpful links below. Please take a listen and share with your neighbors.

Candidate Links:

Mack Blackstone

Bill Smith

Election Resources:

Check Your Voter Registration Status

View Your Sample Ballot

Look Up Who Represents You

Transcript

Katy Smith:

[0:35] On Tuesday, November 7th, there are elections in all six cities within Greenville County.

I’m Katie Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and we are pleased to bring you interviews with most every candidate in contested races. Today, we feature candidates for the City of Fountain Inn.

But first, a quick primer on elections in the City of Fountain Inn.

In odd-numbered years like this one, the City of Fountain Inn holds elections for half of its city council members, and in every four years for its mayor.

Seats that are up for for election on Fountain Inn City Council are for the mayor, held by G.P. Mcleer, Ward 2, which is currently represented by Jay Thomason, Ward 4, which is currently represented by Phil Clemmer, and Ward 6, which is represented by Mack Blackstone.

Only Ward 6 has opposition, with incumbent Mack Blackstone facing candidate Bill Smith.

On this episode, you’ll hear from both Ward 6 candidates.

If you live in Fountain Inn and you’re not sure who will be on your ballot, you can check out the links on this episode page to see a map of Fountain Inn’s District and to check your sample ballot.

Here’s how the interviews worked. All candidates received the same questions at the time of their invitation to join us and were given 10 minutes for their interview.

Candidates were allowed to bring along a companion, such as a campaign manager, family member, or friend, and to record our session themselves.

There were no edits made to the interview.

We’ve put links to the participating candidates’ preferred internet presence on the episode page.

[2:04] First up alphabetically is Mack Blackstone. I am so pleased to be here with Mack Blackstone, who is running for re-election for City Council in Fountain Inn.

Mack, thanks so much for joining us.

Mack Blackstone:

[2:14] Thank you so much for having me this afternoon. And thank you for inviting me to be a part of this podcast.

Katy Smith:

[2:18] So tell us first about yourself and why you’re running for election.

Mack Blackstone:

[2:22] I’m a lifelong resident of Fountain Inn. I am 34 years old.

I work at a local independent pharmacy here in town, Howard’s Pharmacy.

I’ve grew up here. I go to church here. I work here.

I’ve seen what Fountain Inn was growing up.

I see what it is now, and I see what the potential is for the future.

So it’s been, it’s a neat process to see, you know, where we’ve been, where we are, and where we can go, and the potential.

And, you know, I have a servant’s heart.

I’ve been called to serve the community. That’s what I do in my job at the pharmacy.

You serve the citizens and the residents of the city.

So that’s been my calling is to serve and what better way to serve a community that you grew up in and love and appreciate and try and make a positive impact and make a difference in the daily decisions that city council has to make for the residents and the city.

So it’s been an honor. I’ve been on council for four years, one term, and this is my second term that I’m going for.

So it’s been an honor and a privilege to be able to serve a second term.

Katy Smith:

[3:31] Great, thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues the Fountain Inn is facing?

Mack Blackstone:

[3:36] The biggest issue that has been for a while has been the growth.

We have grown and grown and grown at a rapid pace the past four to six years.

Even from when I was first elected to city council back in 2019, the growth we’ve experienced even from then has been insane.

It’s a good thing, you know, but with growth comes changes and some growing pains.

We have some growing pains, you know, some public safety issues, you know, how do we staff the police department and the fire department to be able to handle the growth that we have with all the residents and the homes and businesses coming into town.

So that’s been our biggest challenge is with the growth, you know, it’s kind of, it’s slowed down a little bit and we found some ways to kind of control it, make it a little more easier to handle, but that’s been our biggest struggle.

Katy Smith:

[4:25] Thank you. What would be your priorities if you’re elected this year?

Mack Blackstone:

[4:29] My top priority would be to continue to work on public safety.

How do we continue to grow the departments, you know, even public works, you know, with trash pickup and debris cleanup?

How do we continue to grow these departments to handle, you know, the growth, the residents, the towns, the apartments, townhomes?

How do you grow a department, you know, and have the employees to be trained efficiently enough to do their job and do it well, you know, with public safety, the police department, fire department, you know, we want the best of the best for our citizens.

So how do we, you know, do that? So that’s that’s our goal was to continue to work on that. Infrastructure.

You know, the roads, we’ve got some rough roads, a lot of roads are county roads or SCDOTroads, so we don’t really have a lot of control over, you know, those particular roads.

But how do we build a partnership, you know, with those entities that own those roads, you know, to make that make it a priority, you know, the roads and fountains are a priority for these departments, you know, that get them repaved and updated, you know.

A lot of our population that’s in Fountain Inn is youth. We have a lot of youth. So another big thing would be improving our parks.

If you can keep children and kids, you know, in sports, playing in parks and stuff, it keeps them occupied from doing other things they shouldn’t be doing.

So that’s a big thing, you know, and recreation is a big, a big important part of our community.

You know, everybody, everybody played a sport growing up and that builds teamwork and community, you know, bonds with each other, with residents and stuff.

So that’s probably my top three being, you know, the public safety improvement, how do you improve infrastructure and then improving the parks for our use that are coming up in Fountain Inn.

Katy Smith:

[6:11] Great. Well, we have a little bit more time left. Is there anything else you’d like to tell listeners?

Mack Blackstone:

[6:15] It’s just, like I said, it’s been an honor and a privilege the past four years.

It’s not an easy job. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, but, you know, when you’re doing it for the right reasons and you care about your city and, you know, the residents, it’s, you know, it’s been very beneficial. It’s been a blessing.

I look forward, hopefully for another second term, you know, in the next four years.

And I’m excited to see what, you know, what’s to come to Fountain Inn.

And anybody who has not been to Fountain Inn visit recently, I encourage you to come visit Fountain Inn and check our downtown area out and what’s what’s going on. You know, it’s an exciting time to be a part of it.

Fountain Inn is the in place to be. So I’m very honored and blessed to serve on City Council.

Katy Smith:

[6:56] Well, we appreciate your willingness to serve. And we really appreciate you joining us today.

Mack Blackstone:

[7:00] Thank you so much.

Katy Smith:

[7:02] Next up is Bill Smith. I’m so pleased to be here with Bill Smith, candidate for City Council in Fountain Inn. Thanks for joining us, Bill.

Bill Smith:

[7:09] Thanks for having me.

Katy Smith:

[7:11] So tell us first about yourself and why you’re running for election.

Bill Smith:

[7:15] So I grew up in South Carolina. I’m a native. I’ve moved to Greenville in the early 80s.

[7:23] My parents decided to move and come work for Bob Jones University.

So, they uprooted us, and we moved up here from Baysford to Leesville.

I attended the academy and graduated from the academy and then the university.

And so, I think my life has been filled with service opportunities because after school at Bob Jones, I joined the United States Marine Corps.

And so, that opened my eyes to what true service was all about and not necessarily what I did, but what I saw other people did.

[7:57] And in 1991, I had the opportunity to go to the Persian Gulf and participated in the Persian Gulf War with the Marine Corps.

And that changes your perspective on many things.

So you know, after that, you know, life took its different turns.

And probably the biggest blessing of my life is I have three daughters who are all in their 20s now and ironically are all in the healthcare field serving others.

And a lot of that really comes from my grandmother and that’s, she taught us all about service. She owned a little country store in Leesville, South Carolina and really fed the community and I think that’s where we all learned it.

So it’s kind of been part of our DNA for a long time.

So why I’m running is I think Fountain Inn needs more people to serve and I think my life experiences and things I’ve done can give me some opportunity to help Fountain Inn as we go through growth and to serve that community better.

Katy Smith:

[8:57] Great. Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues that Fountain Inn is facing?

Bill Smith:

[9:03] So our biggest issue is growth and really opportunity is we’re not going to stop the growth. It’s coming, whether we like it or not.

But I think our city leaders have done a great job, I think.

But I think, you know, that really the opportunity is just how we manage that growth as it comes to us to ensure that the employees that work for the city have the right resources they need.

The infrastructure is really important about making sure we have enough fire and police and stuff as more families come.

So that’s really where I think the opportunities and challenges may be for us over the next five years.

Katy Smith:

[9:46] Thank you. What would be your priorities if you’re elected this year?

Bill Smith:

[9:50] So priorities, I’m not really going in with any kind of agenda.

I’m really going in to help the city using my experiences working in corporate America for many years and being in service.

But I would say really communication. It’s about making sure the citizens are informed of what’s going on and kind of helping the city manage that process of growth.

And then really it’s about community.

It’s about bringing people together in our community.

You know, Fountain Inn back in the 80s had a lot of tough times, you know, race relations and those kind of things.

And when I moved to Fountain Inn, one of the first people I met was a gentleman named Timothy Shell. He owns a little barbershop downtown Fountain Inn.

And he and I became fast friends. And fortunately for me, I was able to get to know many of his friends who were not like me, and I built a relationship with them.

And I see the opportunity for us to bring those two communities together.

Not that we’re way apart now, but I think there’s a lot of, there’s a gap there that we need to continue to do from race relations in Fountain Inn.

And I think I can help bridge that gap some.

Katy Smith:

[11:07] Great. Well, we have a little bit more time left. Is there anything else you’d like to tell listeners?

Bill Smith:

[11:12] So, you know, I’m just a servant.

I don’t really care too much about, you know, titles and that kind of stuff.

I’m doing this purely to support Fountain Inn through our growth.

My hope is that other people will get involved as we move forward.

Fountain Inn’s growing. We need younger people. We need different kinds of people to be involved, you know, going forward in Fountain Inn. It’s a great city.

We’re fortunate to have the main street that we have, and we need to protect it.

We don’t, we’re not ever going to be Greenville, which is great, and Greenville’s done a fantastic job, but Fountain Inn’s unique in the way, in the things that we have, and the people are very unique, and so I’m just looking forward to the opportunity of serving the people of Fountain Inn.

Katy Smith:

[12:04] Great. your willingness to serve, and we really appreciate you joining us today. Thanks, Bill.

Bill Smith:

[12:08] Thanks for having me.

Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of Podcast Studio X.

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