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Newcomer & familiar face file to run for South Congaree council seats; no takers for special ele

South Congaree, SC (Paul Kirby) Two people have filed to run for South Congaree’s April election, however, three seats are open. Two are because currently serving member Leslie Gifford didn’t file to run for re-election and current Council member Brian Jackson’s special term is up. No one filed to run in the special election for a seat left open when former Councilmember Jean Wilson resigned for personal reasons. Both elections are scheduled for Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Brian Jackson, a well-known name in South Congaree politics, has filed to run for re-election to the seat he already holds. During the town’s last election Jackson, who had been mayor in the previous term, dropped back and ran for a council seat instead. In the town’s strong mayor form of government, the mayor really has no more power than a council member. The mayor simply chairs the meetings, sets the meeting's agendas with input from the others, and attends more meetings outside the town having to do with intergovernmental relationships in most cases. If he's a strong leader, he can set the tone and direction of the council by promoting his vision with the others. Jackson move made it possible for Mayor Danny Jones to take that position without opposition.

Jackson’s father was the mayor of the town years ago and his family has a long history in South Congaree. Jackson is an ordained minister, is a single father, and owns his own septic tank and land clearing business. He currently lives on Ramblin Road with his father who dabbles in farming, but is mostly retired. His grandmother still lives in the town and is in her 90’s. She and her husband ran a mercantile store for years where citizens could buy everything from meats and overalls, to boots, hats, and hardware. The Jackson family also owns several mobile home parks inside the town.

Bobby Porter, a general contractor who owns Premier One Construction company, has also filed to run for one of the open council seats. His company does commercial construction of apartments, condos, and other large footprint projects across North and South Carolina. He is married to Dr. Jennifer Porter, D.C., a chiropractor who owns Premier One Spinal Care in Red Bank. The couple have lived in South Congaree for 11-years on Ramblin Road.

Porter says that he has never been involved in politics before and decided to run after years of seeing what he said was a, “lack of development, vision, and leadership,” in the town. He said he became increasingly concerned as he traveled the state and told people where he lived. Often, he said, he got a negative response as soon as he said South Congaree. He believes the town has been idle too long and he hopes to be a part of what could get it moving forward.

Porter says that before he filed he asked himself three questions. First, can I do a better job; to that he answered yes. Second, he asked himself can I be effective; again, the answer was yes. Third, and most importantly, he asked himself can I lead; to that last question he answered absolutely! After answering all those in an affirmative manner, he said he asked himself, “If not me then who?” It was then that he filed to run for council.

Porter says that he has a degree from Campbell University in business and an MBA from East Carolina. He said that his extensive background in business finance should be an asset to the town once he’s sworn in. “Numbers don’t lie,” Porter said. “Be it business or government, following the numbers closely will tell you about the management of that operation. I have the experience that the town needs to better manage its resources so that South Congaree’s reputation can be repaired, and we can get moving forward again in a positive way.”

He plans to meet people the old fashioned way. He likes to shake hands, look someone in the eye, and talk face-to-face. Although he may not be well known around the town, he sounds as if he has its best interest at heart. “If people want to know who Bobby Porter is, they can call me, and I will be glad to meet with them and discuss anything regarding the town,” Porter concluded. Porter said anyone who wants to talk should call him at (336) 442-3339.

No one filed by the deadline to run for the seat left open when Jean Wilson resigned in 2017. Wilson had significant health issues shortly after leaving the seat open. This twist means that any eligible resident voter of the town could mount a write-in campaign and win with a handful of votes.

(L) Brian Jackson & (R) Bobby Porter with his wife Jennifer

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