Mayor Linda Page chaired a Town Council meeting on Jan. 25 at which there was discussion and a vote on building the roundabout on Coleman Boulevard.
During that meeting, as reported by The Post and Courier, Councilman Will Haynie asked the mayor if she should recuse herself from voting in that her family owns two businesses on Coleman Boulevard.
Mayor Page said that while two of her nieces and a nephew own Page’s Okra Grill and her father leases the Ben Sawyer Boulevard property where Page’s Thieves Market is located, she has no financial stake or interest in the Coleman Boulevard work. The mayor later voted for the roundabout to move forward. Of note — the mayor has also voted for the very controversial parking garage project at Shem Creek.
It would seem prudent for the mayor to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest in her office. The South Carolina State Ethics Commission rules of conduct state that:
“A public official, public member or public employee may not knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to influence a government decision to obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.”
They further state, “A public official, public member, or public employee may not have an economic interest in a contract with the state or its political subdivisions if the public official, public member, or public employee is authorized to perform an official function (including writing or preparing the contract, accepting bids, and awarding of the contracts) relating to the contract.”
In light of these rules, I find Mayor Page’s position troubling. The Shem Creek parking garage is across the street from her family’s business. The roundabout is located near the mayor’s own antique business.
Perception is reality in politics. This situation erodes voters’ trust in our elected officials. It would seem prudent to seek an outside opinion from the State Ethics Commission or the Office of the Inspector General on such issues. Did the mayor do that?