City of Travelers Rest: Getting to Know Your Candidates

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Dive deep into the City of Travelers Rest’s upcoming elections on November 7 as we sit down with the candidates vying for your vote. Today, you’ll hear from City Council special election candidates Jeffrey Hyten and Catherine Stanford James. Discover why they are running for office, what they think are the biggest issues facing the City of Travelers Rest, 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:

Jeffrey Hyten LinkedIn

Catherine Stanford James LinkedIn

Election Resources:

Check Your Voter Registration Status

View Your Sample Ballot

Look Up Who Represents You

Transcript

Katy Smith:

[0:36] 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 Travelers Rest. But first, a quick primer on elections in the City of Travelers Rest.

TR has eight seats on council, and all of them are at large, meaning all voters in the city can vote for them.

In odd-numbered years like this one, TR holds elections for half of its council members and in every four years for its mayor.

TR elects those council members by ranked voting, meaning the top four vote-getters in a race for four seats are elected to council.

[1:19] This 2023 election in Travelers Rest is an interesting one.

All four incumbents whose terms are up have filed for re-election, and they are unopposed.

However, a seat that is up in 2025 has been vacated by Rick Floyd, who has moved to Pickens. So a special election is being held on November 7th for that seat.

Jeffrey Hyten and Catherine Stanford James are running and on this episode, you’ll hear from both.

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 a link to both Jeffrey’s and Catherine’s preferred internet presence on the episode page.

[2:11] First up alphabetically is Jeffrey Hyten. I’m glad to be here with Jeffrey Hyten, who’s running for City Council and Travelers Rest.

Jeffrey, thanks so much for being here.

Jeffrey Hyten:

[2:20] It’s nice to be here, Katy. Thank you very much for having me.

It’s a real privilege to be able to speak to the hopefully constituents in Travelers Rest, and I’m really excited about the opportunity, and I look forward to getting started here with you.

Katy Smith:

[2:36] Great. Tell us about yourself and why you’re running for office.

Jeffrey Hyten:

[2:41] Thank you, Katy. My name is Jeffrey Hyten, and I am running for the special election in Travelers Rest to fill the vacant seat.

I love Travelers Rest so much. My wife and I love it here. I’m originally from the Midwest, but went to college in the South and met my wife at Clemson.

We worked and lived in Atlanta for 25 years and always wanted to come back to the upstate.

We came back to South Carolina and where my wife was actually born in Orangeburg and her father, the late Lieutenant James Gaston, was a hero.

[3:13] He was at Clemson in 1951, graduated, and two weeks later he was on a boat for Korea. He was a great hero and a great American.

Holly and I came back to South Carolina to assimilate to be South Carolina, South Carolinians and the values that South Carolina has.

We wanted a simple quiet life. I was a national director of sales for a small pharmaceutical firm for 14 years and I would consider myself self-employed.

I own two businesses with my wife and all of our business is now here in South Carolina. We have no more business in Georgia.

I go to service at St. Mary’s down in Greenville. My faith is very important to me.

We are also blessed to live where we can all worship and live with so many like-minded Christians.

I’m running because I love Travelers Rest and I want to defend it from the likes of the problems of Asheville and Atlanta.

I watch in real time as Atlanta and more specifically Roswell and the northern Atlanta suburbs deteriorate into chaos and that plagues it to this day.

Travelers Rest has to be a place where residents, visitors, families, businesses, veterans, seniors, and our children are always safe and feel protected.

Travelers rest first, America first.

[4:23] I’m 100% behind our cops, firemen, and first responders. I want to represent travelers rest. I want those first responders to know that I always have their back.

I think Mayor Amidon has done a great and extraordinary job managing the growth in Travelers Rest and keeping all the small-town charm that we all have grown to know and love.

[4:45] Travelers Rest has so many wonderful blessings for us citizens.

This Swamp Rabbit Trail is nothing like I’ve ever seen before.

I love to walk and I love nature and it’s such a special place.

Mayor Amidon’s platform for Travelers Rest has always been the three P’s.

Parking, we have to have parking, especially around Main Street.

Our parks, not just the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but the rest of our parks are really the envy of the upstate and we have to maintain them and keep them a place where everybody wants to go and children can play safely.

And Poinsett, we all know there’s some issues there, but we have to remember that safety first and maybe even consider a pedestrian walkway to get to the other businesses on the other side of Travelers Rest from downtown.

But I would take it farther and have six P’s. I know that we have to support the police.

We have to have their back. We need to protect the heritage and traditions that have made Travelers Rest the place that we all love.

And pedestrians, I think there’s an opportunity for more pedestrian areas, maybe even blocking off some side streets on Thursday or Friday night, just some place where people can walk around and feel safe and families can walk around and be safe.

[6:05] In North Atlanta, Cobb County is considered the last bastion of normalness in metro Atlanta, And I know a lot of college kids, when they refer to Cobb County, they say it stands for count on being busted, which I think is fantastic.

The cops rep there does a lot of the work for them and it’s just easier for people who want to come use drugs or not work or be lazy or loiter and hang out on the sidewalk to go somewhere else where they’re not hassled so much. I love it.

[6:36] We could have moved anywhere, but we chose Travelers Rest, and it’s such a special, special place where people are so welcoming and friendly.

And I know everyone wants to continue to be where bikers and hikers and families and business people and children and seniors can come and spend money and spend the day and enjoy our beautiful little hamlet. And I know they will be safe with our administration.

I do not recognize I do not recognize the Asheville of today.

I’ve not once had to explain why I left Atlanta, and we just can’t have the problems that Asheville and Atlanta have.

When my wife moved to Roswell in the 70s, it was a quaint, safe, quiet, little town, and everybody loved it.

[7:22] After, in the last few years, North Atlanta has deteriorated.

After our Chick-fil-A was robbed twice at gunpoint, and two murders were at the Texaco station that I bought gas at every day, and carjackings were up 300 percent.

My wife and I said it was time to go and we could not have found a better place than Travelers Rest. I will do everything I can to represent my constituents and protect Travelers Rest and I hope in four years I can say I helped make it even a better place for all of us.

I love to talk to people. My wife says I talk too much but that’s a whole different conversation and I can but I am always out and always talking to people and I’ve already gotten a lot of great feedback from my fellow citizens and I know we can make Travelers Rest even better place. My wife and I have found a home.

We’re never leaving South Carolina. We’re never leaving Travelers Rest, Travelers Rest First. Thank you for your time, Katy.

Katy Smith:

[8:12] Well, thank you so much for joining us today and we appreciate your willingness to serve.

Jeffrey Hyten:

[8:18] Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be here and I hope everybody has a great day.

Katy Smith:

[8:23] Next up alphabetically is Catherine Stanford James. I’m pleased to be joined by Catherine Stanford James, who is running for Travelers Rest City Council in a special election for an at-large seat. Thanks for joining us.

Catherine Stanford James:

[8:35] Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to share information about myself and my campaign and your listeners today. I am truly grateful to be here.

Katy Smith:

[8:44] Well, great. So tell us about yourself and why you’re running for election.

Catherine Stanford James:

[8:49] Okay. I am a native of Greenville and have lived in Traveler’s Rest for almost 19 years with my husband, John.

Our daughter was born and raised in Traveler’s Rest, and we just moved her to USC Honors College about four weeks ago, so our house is a little bit quiet right now.

I am a proud graduate of Furman University, so this past weekend my loyalties were split with the Carolina Furman game in Columbia, and I will just say both teams look great.

I am a career marketing, advertising and communications professional and I currently serve as senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy for Greenville Federal Credit Union and I’ve been with them for about 13 years.

I also serve on the board of directors for Roper Mountain Science Center Association, as a board member for Greenville County Schools Foundation, and as a Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year judge.

I’m also a leadership Greenville alum, class 49.

[9:47] My family and I have loved living in Travelers Rest all these years.

It’s not just a beautiful town that serves as a gateway to the northern part of the county. It’s a friendly and welcoming, close-knit, giving community.

The people of Travelers Rest are truly what make this community so special and if you have lived here for any amount of time you feel it.

So why am I running? I felt a gentle nudge and pull towards public service for a long time.

In the past, I was a volunteer civics teacher for students working towards their U.S. citizenship. And believe me, that is a tough test.

I’ve also worked as an election poll manager for quite a number of years in elections, primaries, generals, you name it.

And it truly is one of my favorite places to be on election day, because I enjoy watching citizens exercise their fundamental right to vote and to make their voices heard.

[10:45] Over the last couple of years, that nudge to public service became more of a push.

Through my work at the credit union and my community service experiences, I’ve had unique access and opportunities to learn about advocacy and the inner workings of our local and state government and about how policy is made and implemented at the local level.

And my experience in Greenville, leadership Greenville, really opened my eyes to the hard and difficult issues affecting our community.

But I also got to see opportunities and solutions and get to know many people and organizations who are diligently working to solve those issues.

And this is what really motivated me to consider how I might contribute and serve in a more significant and direct way.

And so, for me, this desire was personal to my city of Travelers Rest.

I love our town, and I’m ready to be an active participant in shaping its future.

And I want to lend my skills, experience, and perspective to preserve its unique character, history, and its deep sense of community.

I want to help answer how we can retain our small-town values and that sense of connection and pride, our city’s natural beauty and its quiet, calm feel, while also sustaining a prosperous economy that serves the needs of our community now and well into the future.

Katy Smith:

[12:11] Thank you. What do you believe are the biggest issues that Traveler’s Rest is facing?

Catherine Stanford James:

[12:16] Growth, the development that comes with it, and our infrastructure needs, and this is really the biggest concern that I see, and it’s also what I’m hearing from so many neighbors and friends.

By 2027, the population of Traveler’s Rest is expected to double what it was in 2010, and that explosive growth is happening all across Greenville County.

As Traveler’s Rest gains new residents and businesses every day, we need to make sure that our infrastructure can keep pace with the expected growth and continues to serve the needs of the community.

And while growth is inevitable, smart planning can moderate its impact.

I want to see that our strategic plans allow for well-managed and thoughtful development, but also maintain and preserve travelers rest’s quality of life.

Prioritizing the city’s infrastructure needs should drive every planning discussion.

We must consider the condition and capacity of our streets and roads, our city services, water, sewer, waste management, affordable housing, emergency services, and public safety, all of that to meet our current needs and prepare for future challenges.

[13:30] Encouraging economic growth that is in harmony with our city’s values and identity is critical.

We must support our local small and family-owned businesses, many of which have been in Traveler’s Rest for generations, as well as our artisans and entrepreneurs.

We must also entice new businesses that have real staying power and true commitment to the prosperity and well-being of this community.

Katy Smith:

[13:54] Thank you. What would be your priorities if elected this year?

Catherine Stanford James:

[13:59] I have four priorities. As I mentioned in the previous question, my first priority is about fostering sensible growth strategies that support our community’s vision and values and protect our quality of life.

My second priority is to enhance and improve our pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for safety and accessibility.

My husband and I both ride our bikes nearly every day and my husband commutes to work by bike.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, cyclist, and Swamp Rabbit Trail user, I am committed to improving the city’s walking, running, and bicycle infrastructure so that residents and visitors can easily and safely reach and enjoy the great amenities, retailers, restaurants, and services that exist across our city and from their neighborhoods in whatever mode of transportation they choose.

And this could mean more attention to traffic signals, lighting, buffers, crosswalks, traffic calming measures, parking, all of it.

[15:06] My third priority is to protect and prioritize our green spaces and natural resources.

Travelers Rest is beautiful and lush, with views of the mountains at every turn.

Our natural resources and green spaces are an essential part of our quality of life and identity and I believe we can preserve them through policy, planning, and environmentally sound practices.

I will prioritize protecting our beautiful tree canopy and air quality and make sure we consider space for wildlife and native plants to survive.

I also want to work on the revitalization of Gateway Park so that this wonderful green space on the other side of TR can continue to accommodate a wide range of recreational activities with clean, updated facilities.

[16:00] My fourth priority is to preserve our city’s sense of community and connection.

Travelers Rest is blessed with gifted makers, musicians, artists, event planners, and entrepreneurs.

And I want to help showcase this abundance of rich talent through new and unique community-wide activities, public art installations, curated experiences that really tell the whole story and history of Traveler’s Rest, and then welcome everyone, whether they live in Northcliffe or near Center Street or Hawkins Road or at the Woodlands, to come out and enjoy and engage in our local culture together.

Katy Smith:

[16:43] Great. Thank you. We have a little bit of time left. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our listeners?

Catherine Stanford James:

[16:49] I do. I really want to hear from my community. I want to collect different perspectives that will push my thinking in a positive way while making me more compassionate and committed to finding solutions that may serve us all.

I want to understand what our residents value and I want to find things that we can all agree are our biggest challenges.

I want to work directly with residents to solve problems and bring change that benefits the whole community.

As a longtime resident, I have seen Travelers Rest mature and grow as it has embraced its strengths and opportunity.

I am eager to help our city maintain this positive momentum with fresh ideas but also with common sense.

I know my neighbors and through collaboration and hard work I believe we can create a plan that works best for our shared future.

I gratefully and respectfully ask for your vote on November 7th in the Travelers Rest City Council special election.

Katy Smith:

[17:47] Great, thank you so much for joining us, and thanks so much for your willingness to serve.

Catherine Stanford James:

[17:51] Thank you so much It is a privilege to speak.

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 Jeffrey Hyten and Catherine Stanford James.

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