Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler unseated Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis in the Republican Party runoff this week, all but assuring his elelction in November since he is running unopposed.
In a question-and-answer session following his runoff victory, Peagler, 59 and a lifelong resident of Berkeley County discussed his goals and the campaign.
Q: What might you bring from Moncks Corner to the county?
A: My council in Moncks Corner is pretty conservative and we agreed to treat the service of people like a business and we recognize that our taxpayers are essentially our customers, and customer satisfaction is what we strive for.
Additionally, we found that we could get services to work together. We started having a quarterly department head meeting. I don't know if that would work with the county, but when I found that we could break bread together and everybody give a report of what was going on in their areas, there started being some sharing of information.
Q: Some questioned your loyalty to the Republican Party because you have voted in a Democratic primary in the past. What do you say to that?
A: So? My goal is to do the best thing for the people. Now, if you want to know about the 2004 Democratic primary that I voted in, I'll be glad to tell you. I voted for a personal friend of my wife. I'm a firm believer in the 11th Commandment: If Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. And I trust her judgment.
I even ran as a Democrat one time way back when I first got out of law school because my uncle (Marion Peagler) who was serving on county council was dying of leukemia and he asked me to. And do you think I'm going to tell him no? Absolutely not. If I had been successful, it wouldn't change my politics. I am a fiscal conservative and I've always been.
Q: You've got six months until you take office. What are you going to do while you wait?
A: I hope to be able to meet with all the council members. I've already had some conversations with some of them. The budget is coming through and if we can influence the budget, we are going to try. It depends on council because I really don't have any authority to do anything right now, but it doesn't prevent me from speaking my mind and talking with them about the business of the county.
Q: How long do you see yourself in the supervisor's job?
A: I don't know. It depends on how much I accomplish in the first term. I'm not getting any younger. (Politics) was more a personal commitment to serve the people. I'm just an old country boy. I like to give back. It's the way I was raised and hopefully, till the day I die, I'll still be the same way.
Q: There was a rumor that you plan to bring Moncks Corner Town Administrator Marc Hehn to the county with you. Are you?
A: I am not going to raid the town of what I consider to be a key employee. He is my friend and he has been good as gold to me ... At the present time, I have not made him any promises and he enjoys what he is doing at the town.
A: What are your goals once you take office?
Q: I really want to take care of the employees as soon as we can because they have not been treated well and the morale is really poor. I had a lady tell me that she had to think about what bill she would pay or if she'd buy meat at the grocery store. When you have lost that much of your buying power that you have to make those kinds of decisions for your family, something's definitely wrong. I really want to try to get them raises. I want to do something for them because they are Berkeley County's biggest asset.
A: Are emergency services a priority to you?
Q: Yes. We have to better equip our ambulance services for the demands of the community. When I was out on 17A waving at people (before the election), in about a 45-minute period, I think there were three calls that the ambulances went on and they don't have that many ambulances so they were having to call in Dorchester County to help. Recognizing a problem and the fact that there are always options is what I've done for 25 years. I utilize my deductive reasoning to gain knowledge and to try to map out a better way to do it.
Q: Berkeley is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. What does Berkeley County need to be successful in the future?
A: Obviously we need hard industry. Hard industry being those that have demands for smaller businesses. It's like Reaganomics back in the day, the trickle-down theory. There is some concern about Alcoa maybe ceasing its operations. That would not be a good thing because it doesn't only affect its employees, it affects the surrounding businesses that have sprung up. It has an economic impact much greater than just itself.
Likewise we need to market Berkeley County because we have a lot of things to offer. I've already spoken with some of Santee-Cooper's people about how to get together to bring business in. It's a need that we have to address.
Also, subdivisions can't grow if you can't remove the waste, and so that makes water-sewer a big business and we have to make sure we have adequate infrastructure. Otherwise it's going to create its own set of problems. I would need to be brought up to speed on capacity issues and our long-term projections and what provisions have been made to take care of the waste needs.
You're also going to have the landfills continuing to fill up unless we an get into some sort of recycling. In Moncks Corner, we've got (curbside) recycling. I think that's something we need to address also.
Q: Where do you stand on reopening the Goose Creek satellite center to offer some routine county services to people in the lower part of the county?
A: I think that you need to look at the economic benefits. I'd love to provide some sort of personal service for those residents. We also need to upgrade the way we do things on the Internet. With the increasing cost of gas and the increasing ease of the Internet, we need to be able to tap into that.
Q: What are your thoughts on the budget?
A: (At Moncks Corner) We try to increase along with the growth so that we are not increasing taxes but we are increasing the services because there's been an increase in revenue. Unfortunately, I don't know that we will be able to accomplish everything we need to, but I'm not going to say that we are going to have a tax increase. All I will say at this time is that we have demands that are going to have to be met to bring up the services to the quality needed and those are not inexpensive services. I just think there are areas of cost savings which I really don't want to get into, but I will be looking for ways to maximize efficiency in government.
Q: Do you support the extension of the penny sales tax and the elimination of the impact fees?
A: I'm going to leave the penny sales tax up to the voters. When they concentrated on everything being done at the south end (of the county), that's where your highest percentage of voters are, and they may not see the need for it now because the roads around their houses are fine. But there are some roads in the upper part of the county that are in terrible shape. So that will be up to the voters but I would hope that they'd find some resolution because the impact fees are terrible. They are a hindrance to small business. (The ordinance) was passed and I don't think council realized what the effects of it were.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.