City of Greer: Getting to Know Your Candidates

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Dive deep into the City of Greer’s upcoming elections on November 7 as we sit down with the candidates vying for your vote. Today, you’ll hear from District 3 candidate Mark Hopper. Discover why he is running for office, what he thinks are the biggest issues facing the City of Greer, his 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:

Mark Hopper

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 Katy Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and we are pleased to bring you interviews with most every candidate in contested races.
Today, we feature the City of Greer.
But first, a quick primer on elections in the City of Greer.
In odd-numbered years like this one, Greer holds elections for half of its City Council members and in every four years for its mayor.
Seats that are up for election on Greer’s City Council are for the Mayor, held by Rick Danner; seat one, held by Jay Arrowood; seat three, held by Mark Hopper; and seat five, held by Wryley Bettis.
All have filed for re-election, and only seat three has an opponent in Billy Vaughn.
However, Mr. Vaughn did not respond to our repeated invitations by phone and email. So today, you will hear from Mark Hopper.
If you live in Greer 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 Greer’s districts 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 have put links to the candidates’ preferred internet presence on the episode page.

[2:03] I’m pleased to be joined by Mark Hopper, who is running for re-election in Greer’s District 3. Thanks for joining us today.

Mark Hopper:
[2:10] Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Katy.

Katy Smith:
[2:11] Great. Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for re-election.

Mark Hopper:
[2:15] Sure. Absolutely. So, first things first, I’m married to my wonderful wife, Amanda, for almost 17 years now.
We have one son, Hudson, who is almost 16 years old, 15 now.
He’s enjoying his sophomore year at Greer Middle College Charter High School.
School. We have lived in Greer since 2009.
I’ve been in the upstate since the late nineties when I came here for school, met a South Carolina girl, Amanda grew up in the Northern Spartanburg County area. We met, and of course, you see how that ended up. This is now home for me.
And that’s a wonderful thing.
And we, again, we moved to Greer in 2009 and started figuring out what a wonderful place we had chosen to call home. And the journey has been incredible ever since.
We own two businesses in the Greer community, Hopper Financial.
We founded in 2016. We’d been in the insurance financial planning business for a number of years.
But when we, again, when we started putting down roots in Greer, we decided we wanted to, professionally speaking, really focus on serving families and family businesses in our community.
And then we loved our downtown as we continued spending time in the community.
And Abbott’s Frozen Custard opened in 2016, came up for sale.
That opportunity, I tell people jokingly, we needed a hobby business and so we bought it in August of 2019.
It’s been a lot of fun and been a very rewarding way to be involved in the community, just in a different way.

[3:43] Again, I referenced the journey that we’ve been on just in falling in love with Greer and opportunities, not just professionally but otherwise, to be engaged in our community.
One thing that really propelled us forward was our involvement through the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Greer program.
I participated in Leadership Greer class 34, actually about 10 years ago now, and that just opened my eyes to all the different facets of the Greer community and specifically gave me a lot of wonderful relationships that persist to this day and that I can point to even for a lot of the things that we’re involved in that way.
So we serve Lions Club, different charities in our community, Greer Community Ministries, our Meals on Wheels affiliate in Greer, Greer Relief, Daily Bread, our soup kitchen there in Greer.
I serve on the board of the Foothills Philharmonic that performs in Greer.
I’ve been involved with the Chamber Board of Directors.
Currently, I’m the chair-elect. Next year, I have the opportunity to serve as the board chair.

[4:47] The Leadership Greer program, even trying to give back and be part of that as we’ve stepped out.
And then one thing specifically related to my city council service that I feel propelled us forward that way is the opportunity I had to serve on our planning commission in the city of Greer from 2014 to 2019. So.
Again, I could go on. Amanda has a long list as well, but we just really love Greer, and it is home for us, for sure.

Katy Smith:
[5:14] Great, thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues that Greer is facing?

Mark Hopper:
[5:19] Well, there’s no question that growth is the number one, and that really drives, you could list off a number of things that we need to pay a good attention to, and I feel like we have done a good job of beginning that process in so many ways, but growth is just kind of the overarching issue I think that we are facing in Greer.
You know, it’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity.
I strongly believe that. I am not an anti-growth individual by any stretch, but when there’s an opportunity such as growth that we’re seeing in Greer and across the upstate and even regionally, for that matter, you know, there are challenges that come along with that.
And so we need to be, we have been, and we need to continue doubling down on being good stewards and wise decision-makers of that growth as it continues to come.

[6:11] You know, it’s not, again, it’s not our unique issue, but I think there are unique elements to it in Greer.
We are smack dab right in the middle of the upstate. We’re straddling, you know, the two major counties where we see a lot of the economic activity and residential activity occurring.
I mean, so Greenville and Spartanburg counties there, you know, we’re right there, the airport is a Greer address, BMW, Michelin, you know, all these things that we are blessed with, but at the same time, once again, there are unique challenges that come along with that.
And so we need to continue being mindful of that and putting tools in our tool belt to make sure that we protect our current residents and position all of our residents, even the ones that aren’t here yet, for a high quality of life and economic prosperity moving forward.

[7:03] You know, sometimes I tell residents almost jokingly, but I think it encapsulates kind of where we are is, you know when you create a community that is worth living in and that’s desirable to live in, and when you do live in an area or a region or a city that is a wonderful place to live, one byproduct of that is people want to come live there, right?
And so, you know, we’re not going to, we’re not going to, we’re not going to disrupt that because disrupting it in any way means that we don’t live in as prosperous or desirable or for whatever reason, not as great of a place to live.
And so we want to keep moving forward even as we have new neighbors join us in that way. You know, a few things that I’m proud of in our first term that we put tools in our tool belt to be able to effectively deal with growth.
We have instituted what we call development agreements as we have new annexation requests or even rezoning requests for new development or redevelopment.

[8:05] Residential development, you know, many, several other municipalities use what are called impact fees. Those are highly regulated by under state law.
We’ve chosen to use what we call development agreements because it allows us to simply when someone wants to do a project in Greer, add housing in Greer here.
Again, we think that’s a great thing, an opportunity, but we also know that there’s challenges that come along with that.
Strongly believe that growth should pay for growth, right? We don’t want to shoulder that on top of our current resident’s shoulders.
And so these development agreements either give us the flexibility to say, okay, you want to do so many different units, whether it’s a single-family or whether it’s a multifamily project, you know, a per unit amount of money that this developer invests right back into the community for infrastructure, but not just infrastructure. Whatever the needs may be, we’re able to turn around and invest that into public safety, infrastructure, parks and recreation, etc.
And so there’s a lot of flexibility there. And then, even beyond that, there’s been even a couple of times where instead of a dollar amount, it’s been more in our taxpayer’s best interest to maybe have a small piece of the parcel that the developer is looking to do a project on, specifically south of 85.

[9:21] We did that where we’re envisioning on a piece of property that we acquired through this type of development agreement, a future fire station to be built there.
And so it’s been a great tool for us to be able to make sure we are, again, making growth pay for growth, making people have skin in the game as they do want to come to Greer to do projects.
We have raised the level of dedicated funding for roads and sidewalks during my first term.
Very proud of that. We had staff recommend, you know, do a study, make sure we’re on pace to make sure we’re maintaining our current inventory of roads.
We weren’t, frankly, and that is a high priority. And so we did.
We carved out a piece of our millage, the revenue that we have coming in, and dedicated that higher amount to roads.
So I’m very proud of that. And then, as many municipalities in the area are doing, we are overhauling our land use and zoning regulations in the form of a UDO.
This is a tool to protect our residents as we move forward in growth.
And so we’re streamlining those, condensing those, updating those, looking forward, and that hasn’t been done in 20 years. That will be a very important tool for us moving forward.

Katy Smith:
[10:37] Great. What would be your priorities if re-elected?

Mark Hopper:
[10:41] Absolutely. So I would say, you know, one thing I’ve tried to emphasize my first term is being transparent and accessible, trying to let people know where to turn for information and to help them find solutions to problems, right? And so really continuing to find ways to be even more accessible, more communicative with my constituents, and build relationships across the district, and even across the city, you know, as we move forward.
That’s been the most rewarding part of my first term, and certainly, that would be an emphasis in my second term as well.
I’d say just focusing on education and public input opportunities for constituents.
You know, things are happening fast, but that’s just more incumbent on us as a city and specifically as elected representatives to make sure we are oversharing, if anything, information, casting vision, helping people understand where to go to find information, and to find answers to questions that way.
And then again, just being a good steward of the growth that will continue to come our way, frankly, regardless of who is sitting on city council.
The growth is going to come; we need to be a good steward of it and so continue to be a good steward of that growth.
And then the secondary issues that come along with growth, making sure we’re continuing to cast a vision far into the future for things like public safety and parks and recreation, green space, to make sure we continue keeping up with those.

Katy Smith:
[12:08] Great. Well, thank you so much for joining us, and thank you so much for your willingness to continue to serve.

Mark Hopper:
[12:14] Absolutely. Thank you so much, Katy.

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.

Image via City of Greer.

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2 comments
  • I’d like to schedule a meeting soon with Mr. Hopper, please. I am a resident of District 2 in Greer and lead an Upstate HD (Huntington’s Disease) group, to increase awareness of this disease, plus provide support and resources for HD families – please contact as soon as it is convenient to discuss this – I am on the HDSA SC Affiliate Board of Directors; thank-you!