City of Darlington Ward 2: Valarie Boston vs. Elaine Reed

By Jana E. Pye, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

The City of Darlington has one council position unfilled after new mayor Gloria C. Hines was sworn in to office in January. Voters from Ward 2 will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 5th to decide between the two candidates running – Valarie Boston and Elaine Reed. Reed’s campaign published a Letter to the Editor on March 9th for a public debate between the two women; Anthony Hall, President of the Darlington County NAACP responded to the News and Press with his offer to host one, which was declined.

As published in the March 23 issue of the News and Press, Ms. Boston’s reply was:

“Participating in a “not perfect” forum is not intriguing. I’m motivated more by perfecting the City of Darlington. This request is deflecting from what matters most, which is my clear ability to focus on solving issues; rather then engaging in trivial dialogue.”

Hall responded to the News and Press; “That is very odd response,” he said. “From what I have heard, not many people know this young lady and we had hoped to give her a chance to speak publicly.”

The Ward 2 election is April 5th, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to fill the seat held by Mayor Gloria C. Hines.

Both women were asked ten questions, culled from the many submitted by readers during the November 2015 election season, prior to the Mayoral and Council Candidate Forum sponsored by the News and Press. They were also given an opportunity to share their thoughts, and express what they desired voters to know about them.

They are presented in alphabetical order:

Valarie Boston

1. Do you have the time and energy to devote to being a council member?

I certainly do. I let go a job just so I could devote time to do this venture, putting time into the community of Darlington.

Valarie Boston

Valarie Boston

2. How will you make yourself available to each citizen of Darlington? Share examples of your civic involvement.
I will be readily available by email, or phone, or via the Internet through social media. I’ve been involved in the past 10 – 15 years volunteering in the youth program at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Dovesville Highway, and was a tutor at the after school homework tutoring center on Main Street. It is no longer open now. I met some wonderful kids there. We need more programs like that in District 2.

3. What experiences do you have that show you will represent all of Darlington?
My experience would be my honesty and integrity that I’ve had in every job, I worked since I was 13, which would be communicating with people, and getting the concerns of Darlington.

4. What are some not so obvious issues you see facing Darlington that you plan to address?
First, our children, then our adolescent stage, especially those that may not want to go on to a four year college. At the last census, here in Darlington we have a 22% college graduation rate. I would love to see that number increase drastically in the next few years and getting the students involved in the school and get them more trained in programs to get better jobs. Our average income rate in the city of Darlington is $19,000 and that can increase if we get out there and restructure and train those kids. Training programs in trades that they can get, to insure that they get a job and increase these numbers that we are so low in, versus other cities in South Carolina.

5. Many Darlington residents travel outside of the city to shop and dine. What could you offer to solve this problem ?
I would like to join with other council members that are already on council to help build our infrastructure so we can bring more small businesses to Darlington. That will help increase our income rate as well so we can ask that they offer those jobs first to the citizens of Darlington.

6. How do you think the city should market itself to attract new businesses?
If we increase our beautification to all of Darlington, all aspects of the city of Darlington, I feel that with our natural agriculture and our history can help attract more to come. I know there is a lot of people, older people, that love to travel to Georgetown because of the historical aspect. I believe Darlington has a rich historical aspect that we need to tap into. And if we can restore those historical landmarks we can make Darlington a place to visit.

7. Do you support using city revenue as incentives for small businesses?
I do believe we can do that to attract small businesses here; the fact that they would have great revenue by coming in as a new business coming into Darlington that would be a great attraction. There is a lot of businesses that have turned away from coming to Darlington because of the infrastructure. If we first fix that, then beyond that, we can attract them here. Using city revenue as an incentive, but not a great margin. Maybe a small margin to start off, and once the city economy starts growing, getting more businesses, we can do more.

8. With the JC Daniels Auditorium condemned, would you either build a new facility or renovate the auditorium? Do you think this is a priority?
I believe that is a great priority; fine arts allows many different aspects for children to tap into and we have a lot of talented kids in Darlington. Whether it’s dancing, playing an instrument, we have many talented kids that can benefit from a building that size, from the building period, for fine arts. I support anything that is for the children and improve their quality of life, I’m for full force.

9. Both Florence and Hartsville have large outdoor recreation facilities that are used by the citizens and to host sporting events that draw in visitors. Do you think one is a priority for Darlington?
That is what I would call a work in progress; if we can find someone to finance to help fund, to finance that venture, which would be more money for the revenue for the city of Darlington to come in. If it’s not a top priority, it’s on the priority list, it would help bring in more revenue quickly from events that can be held here for all ages. That would bring in revenue from every direction.

10. What would you like to change, and and preserve in Darlington?

Change doesn’t necessarily have to come quickly to work efficiently. We could have change and progress, and we need change in stages. And the city of Darlington needs to come up with a plan to help move Darlington forward – first starting with infrastructure, and second building on the children of Darlington because they are our future. And in working with the senior citizens of Darlington because they are here and they have great experience and can give us light on how to build on the future. As far as preserving, I would love to preserve the history of Darlington. We have great history here. I would love to preserve the history of the City of Darlington because we have a great aspect we can show the whole state of South Carolina. Not only the state of South Carolina, but, the rest of the United States of America.

About Valarie Boston:
Just to say that my vision for the City of Darlington is to unite the city as one, and build person to person. Because, if we build on the person, the people of the City off Darlington, then we can build the city of Darlington to be great.
I also want the people of Darlington to know that I am not coming with a hidden agenda, nor am I coming from political favors from anyone, from any direction. I just want to help unite everyone in Darlington. Of all ages, and all races, so that we can actually grow and move in the right direction.
I would like to thank anyone that helped in my campaign so far, all the campaign supporters so far on the campaign trail. I appreciate everything because without a team, nothing can work with one person.

Elaine Reed

1. Do you have the time and energy to devote to being a council member?
Most certainly. I am retired, and this is something that I want to do. I’ve lived in the area all of my life, and I see the changes that have occurred. So, yes, I am devoting my time to it now.

Elaine Reed

Elaine Reed

2. How will you make yourself available to each citizen of Darlington? Share examples of your civic involvement.
I’m available; I’m in the neighborhood. I am very easy to get to. These are things I have been doing all the time. We ran a daycare, so I am known. All of the family is know for providing services.
Upon retiring, one of the things I decided to do, I am a member of several groups and the local NAACP and the Library Board. (Darlington County Library System) Once I accepted that, I began to see the kinds of things that were holding our area down. I have seen a change in a lot more people come because they have someone from their area; by being a part of and offering my services to the community, I am able to increase the participation for the people in my ward.

3. What experiences do you have that show you will represent all of Darlington?
My 18 years of government services started out in the Darlington County Community Action Agency right here as the Public Relations person. I moved on, and worked with S.C. Employment Security, and gotten to know people all over this county. Politically, I worked in the governor’s office and retired from state government under Dept. of Health and Human Services which manages Medicare and Medicaid, over a million dollar programs for special needs children that took me through school districts all around, and maintaining and designing policy to keep them alive. Once the governor turned down the Medicaid funds, federal funds for the expansion, a lot of those programs were in jeopardy. Babynet was the kind of services that I worked with. I can help bring that experience and contacts and knowledge to to the city of Darlington.

4. What are some not so obvious issues you see facing Darlington that you plan to address?
The lack of interest. This election has opened my eyes to that. You hear the low participation but not the degree of the lack of interest in the City of Darlington and it’s operation. I see that as one of the main things that contributes to the growth. I would like to be able to address that, one being creating pods of groups getting together to raise the level of interest, and let me be a hands on representative that can really listen to their interests. And, to bring pride. Once you can instill pride in the area that is around you, that immediately raises the level of interest so we can move forward.

5. Many Darlington residents travel outside of the city to shop and dine. What could you offer to solve this problem ?
Once I am elected I will have a little bit more information available to me to see what stops restaurants or businesses coming. It needs to be identified as to what that is. That is the top of the priority list to identify what it is that stops companies or industries coming in. In this ward, we may go all the way to Florence to dine. There are restaurants that may offer the same thing. What is available now? Why go all the way over there, if you can have the same kind of food here? Let folks know what is here. Let’s list them, go around and find all these places; I don’t know it’s already on the Darlington website, but maybe create a complete list. Then say, check this first.

6. How do you think the city should market itself to attract new businesses?
We must utilize technology a little bit more. On the library board, we learn to utilize what the state has; The city of Darlington needs to get tuned in to what the state’s social networks can do, and what we can get involved with. A number of years when I worked in Columbia, we had special seminars for municipal association and we never saw representation from the City of Darlington; I would go to those types of receptions and things so I could say hello to my home folk, and they were not there. There are resources and contacts that I know of that wouldn’t cost us anything but we can be a part of and that would help. We need to utilize the outside contacts more and tune into existing marketing for municipalities that already exists. We have not done this.

7. Do you support using city revenue as incentives for small businesses?
Well, you have to say yes, because that is what businesses are looking for, to see what you are offering them to come and exist here. We have to offer them help to come and to make some money, which is the whole point. Small businesses are the lifeblood of any city. We do need to help them.

8. With the JC Daniels Auditorium condemned, would you either build a new facility or renovate the auditorium? Do you think this is a priority?
For me, it is. Because you have to have cultural resources for any city to grow, to enhance there has to be a part of any growth. We just don’t have it here. I do see that as a priority. Anyone coming in wants to know what we offer in that way. I was apart of a group that did several plays there. I did two there. We did Steal Away, and it was the story of five African American women, all church members, that devised a plan to rob a bank to provide college tuition to students. It was a very funny thing. We held Miss Darlington pageant there.

9. Both Florence and Hartsville have large outdoor recreation facilities that are used by the citizens and to host sporting events that draw in visitors. Do you think one is a priority for Darlington?
It should be a priority, most certainly. There is a direct negative result to not having a recreational facility available to children in a community- there is a tie to crime in young people. When there is a direct correlation. So, yes, to be able to focus in on having one we need one. I’m on board with that. I understand there are plans on the board for one, and I will do all I can to help bring that about. We need look at the other areas to see how they received funding and resources for theirs that we can use here.

10. What would you like to change, and and preserve in Darlington?
The change has to come with the attitudes. It has to. I started out talking about relationships. When we set out to elect our first black mayor, the change has started. We have increased the voter participation; we need to continue with that. Electing a black mayor definitely brought voters on both sides; but the positive thing was the voter participation. We have to keep that going, and continue to raise that level and continue on. I want to be a part of that. I know that continue on that level is my whole goal, of moving forward. When we work together to life Darlington up, we can’t do it with one person being mad at that one, or this side mad at that side. These sides need to be together. I think that I have the personality, I have the experience, I have been involved in associations to be that link. That link to start. My spiritual growth, my spiritual background, keeps me grounded that I know this can get done. I am convicted, and I am committed to bring these better relationships back. We can. That is what I see that stops us more than anything, that is the barrier. We won‘t seek what is out there for the city of Darlington because we are battling with this, with that one. This is not a battleground. It is one Darlington. One Darlington.

About Elaine Reed:
I am Elaine Reed. I am a mother, I have two children, and my son is here with me. I have two sisters, I am one of five, but one of my brothers has passed; and 117 Tallulah Street is our home house. My Daddy built that house with his coworkers. I am living in that house. We added on when my father got ill, my sisters and brothers took care of him. I am a widow, so I came home, back to that house to lift that up. I’ve been in this neighborhood all my life.
Yes, I lived in Columbia; I worked there and retired from there but I never really left this Darlington address. I’m across the street from Earle and Hilda Johnson; he was the Mayor pro Tem under Ronnie Ward. Ronnie talked to me this morning and he said, “Elaine, you know I am supporting you, let me know how I can help you.” I say these things to let you know that I am running for this City Council, Ward 2. I want to be a factor in bringing about a change – a positive change for that Ward. And in doing that, I know it’s going to be a positive change for the City of Darlington. I’m running because I want to be a council member for Ward 2. I welcome, and am thankful for, the support that has come my way.

Author: Duane Childers

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
x
6
Posts Remaining