Hines eager to usher in new era for Darlington

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

Gloria Cheeseboro Hines is the new mayor-elect for the City of Darlington, and she is ready to serve the citizens of her home. In a short respite between the hoopla of the election tie and runoff, congratulations from her supporters, working at her salon, and a pending church event at Bethel A.M.E., Hines met with the News & Press for a candid interview on Saturday afternoon in the beauty shop she owns on South Main Street.

“I thank all the voters,” said Hines. “Those that voted for me, and those that did not. Because regardless, I am going to fight for them too. Every voter is a taxpayer, and we are there to work for them. I’ll help you, no matter where you live or what color you are. That is just the kind of person I am.”

Hines is the first female mayor for the city, and the first African American, an achievement noted by her campaign manager, Donald Gilliard of Georgetown, via telephone interview on Friday.

“It is historic,” said Gilliard, who has many successful elections under his belt including Al Joseph for city council in Georgetown on Nov. 3, and Jack Scoville’s reelection for mayor in Georgetown in 2013.

“In fact, when I was traveling to Darlington to work on Gloria’s behalf, my grandson called me and asked where I was going and I told him I was going to Darlington and would be gone for a while, and he asked why I was going. And he said, ‘Well you just got through with the campaign’ and I told him, I am going to be part of some history here, we are trying to elect the first African American mayor in the history of Darlington. And I wanted to be part of that. There was a sense of destiny even in that drive to Darlington to take on that task.”

Gilliard continued: “The campaign obviously took on a racial tone; we had an African American female, and certainly an old white civic leader of that community, and it took on sort of a racial situation and I am surprised because Gloria really does not believe in terms of separating race issues and that sort of thing. She has friends throughout the entire community.”

Hines said that she feels that she has a good team in place to help her after she is sworn into office.

“I will have a transition team consisting of black and white, men and women, that is my number one thing for Darlington – to bring it together. I want to sit down with the mayor and city manager and if there is anything left on the table that needs to be done, because I am quite sure that there are some things that I haven’t been told yet. And I would like to know, so I know how to move forward. I don’t want to be blind sighted. I want to get together with council members to see that all of us are on the same page so we can move forward. If we keep bringing up the past, we can’t move forward. In order to move forward, we have to keep pressing on. You have got to remember; an elected official is voted in by the people. And the people you represent are taxpayers.”

She shared that she hopes to work towards a plan to construct a city recreation center similar to Byerly Park in Hartsville.

“I want to bring the Pine Center up. I want to let the citizens know that the Pine Center does not belong to the city; they keep saying that I took the goals down, but I didn’t take the goals down. It does not belong to the city. What the city did, they got Arthur Stanley Gym (A.W. “Man” Stanley Gymnasium, Darlington Area Recreation Department) ready for basketball and they can come out there anytime and play. But we need a large outdoor park with baseball fields, tennis, and all that. I plan to work with Sen. Malloy on that.”

She also mentioned she hopes to attract several hotels to the area to compete with Florence and Hartsville.

“With Darlington being the Pearl of the Pee Dee, we should have been on top of this. With us having the county seat, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be larger than Hartsville. We should have more. But I just believe now for 15 years, every time we had a work session, an executive session with economic development, I was pushing Walmart. Walmart. Walmart. I guess they got tired of me saying Walmart. But, however it happened, it’s here now. It’s coming. Hopefully, weather permitting, it’ll be finished in March – and with the strip mall and 255 jobs. Everything follows Walmart. I’ve never seen one ever go out of business.”

She was pleased with the winners of the council, and said that she looks forward to working with them. “Carolyn Bruce, I tremendously admire her. She is on my team. John Milling, I like some of his ideas. He is a sweet, soft-spoken man. I like that. Bryant Gardner, young, ambitious, I think we can get along. I think we got a good team.”

Hines recalled how exciting the downtown was when she was young, and is encouraged to see the revitalization of the downtowns in nearby Hartsville and Florence.

“I want Darlington to be glamorous,” said Hines. “When people drive in, I want them to see the glamour and want to come on in. I want all the entrances coming into Darlington, all four, I want them to be dressed up. And I want the citizens to take more pride in our city. Pick up your trash. We have trash receptacles. Don’t litter the place up! Main Street needs to be nice. Side streets need to be nice. We need to get communities together so we can go out again and clean up Darlington. Darlington needs to be cleaned up. When the weather permits again, we have to start cleaning up again. In the meantime, I would like very much for citizens to put the trash in the receptacles. I know some of the elderly can’t do certain things; maybe we can get little committees to go out and help the elderly people. That is where the churches come in. people in the church goes out and helps their members out. If everybody helps put the plan together, we can help. As long as Darlington stays separate, we can’t do anything. Council has to come together and work as a team. And realize that the city’s money is not their money; it belongs to the citizens and have to come together and put on this together. And I believe we can bring Darlington back.”

When asked if she felt about the racial divide during the election that Gilliard alluded to, she stated:

“Well, I did. But, you know what? I pray, and my Bible doesn’t tell me black or white. My Bible says all men. Female, male, whatever. And I just feel that when you have your hands in God’s hands, let God fight your battles. And that is just what I did. Because I couldn’t go out there screaming at anyone that says something negative about me. People have their own opinions. They say things. But that is not me. And so, I had no reason to come back on what they said. Some have insecurities. I don’t have any insecurities, because a 94 year old lady, Miss Cain told me before she went in the nursing home and hospital, she told me don’t worry, you got it. And a few weeks before she passed, I went out to the nursing home to see her and she told me, ‘I might not be here but you will be Mayor of Darlington. And I said, ‘Some people say I am too loud.’ And she said, ‘Don’t change it, you got a voice. God gave you a voice, use it. Don’t change your ways because your heart is in the right place.’ And I accept that. For one thing, anybody that knows me knows I am not rich. I don’t have a whole lot of money but I got Jesus. And I know they say you don’t mix politics with religion, BUT, in order for me to do justice for the City of Darlington, I have got to have Jesus. I have got to know how to treat people. It’s a right and wrong venture. It is what I am seeking I want to do what is right for the city. Not because somebody is my friend, regardless of the color they are. I don’t go by color. I wasn’t raised that way. I go by right and wrong. And the naysayers out there, I am gonna do for them too. As long as it’s right.”

Hines celebrated with supporters after the provisional ballots secured her victory.			        Photo by Samantha Lyles

Hines celebrated with supporters after the provisional ballots secured her victory. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Author: Duane Childers

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