Mayoral Candidates Sound Off on the Issues – Clinton Edition

January 30, 2023

On March 7 residents of Clinton will go to the polls to vote for a new mayor. On the ballot will be three candidates: Leonard Pitts, Randy Randall and Ronnie Roth.

The Buzz sent a questionnaire to the candidates with a deadline of one week to respond. For editorial purposes the deadline was extended twice. Published here are the insightful responses from two of the candidates: Randy Randall and Ronnie Roth. Leonard Pitts chose not to respond. Answers from candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Note: This is a two part series. The Laurens Mayoral election will be covered next week.

First, let’s meet the candidates (bios submitted by the candidates).

Randy Randall:

Randy Randall came to Clinton as a PC freshman in 1971 and never left. He earned a BS from Presbyterian and a Med from UGA. He has been involved in government since 1996. He is a graduate of the SC Economic Development School and the SC Institute of Government for Municipal Elected Officials.

He has served as President of the SC Municipal Association and the American Public Power Policy Makers in Washington, DC. He was also chair of Piedmont Municipal Power Agency and the Clinton Newberry Natural Gas Authority.

Randall was employed at Presbyterian College for 34 years. He has been the public address announcer for PC football for more than 40 years. In addition to his work in government, he is very active in the community and is ordained as an elder at First Presbyterian. He has been married for 43 years to the former Kim Byers, who is employed at Arthur State Bank. They have two daughters, Dr. Kelley R. Castaneda, who is a registered pharmacist at Sadler Hughes Apothecary in Clinton and Taylor Randall Marlatt, who is the director of the annual fund at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville. He and Kim have five grandchildren.



Ronnie Roth:

Ronnie Roth was born and raised in Clinton. Graduate of Clinton High School. Graduate of Presbyterian College with a BS in Business Administration. He is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church and married to Dale Davis Roth, who is a music teacher for Laurens County School District 56. They have a daughter Elizabeth, a son Garrett.

After 5 years of active-duty service in the Army, Roth returned to Clinton to join my his father, Benson Roth, at Printers Associates Inc. In 2023 Printers Associates will celebrate 50 years of great relationship with all of Laurens County. Roth served six years in the South Carolina Army National Guard. He also served as President of the Clinton Lions Club, President of the Clinton Kiwanis Club, and served on the City of Clinton Board of Zoning Appeals. In 2017 Roth was elected to the City of Clinton Council, Ward 5. He was re-elected in 2021.

Roth currently serves on the Clinton YMCA Board of Directors and Clinton Economic Development Corporation.


Why are you running for Mayor? What is your vision for the City of Clinton?

Randall:  I have always believed that anyone who wants to run for public office should run because you want to help people and make your city a better place to live. The concern for the well-being of others should always be a focus. That will be my focus if I am elected. I believe that I can be a positive leader for Clinton, who can use my experience to work with a team of elected officials and professional employees to listen to the citizens of our city, inspire trust and help move Clinton forward.

My vision is for Clinton to be a city where people want to come live. A city that is safe. A city where there are businesses and industry that insure good jobs across the employment spectrum. A city that has a vibrant downtown with places to shop and restaurants to dine. A city that partners with Presbyterian College and Thornwell Home to add to our cultural and economic stability. A city that supports its schools. A city that addresses the recreation needs for our children and all citizens in a thoughtful and planned way. A city that is comfortable for retirees and city that offers a great quality of life for every single citizen that lives here.

Roth:  There are many city projects planned and in progress. In the next four years these can be – should be started and completed. My vision is a vibrant City of Clinton whose opportunities and quality of life will make it a destination to work and live.

Have you previously held an elected office? If so, what position and when?

Randall:  Yes. I was elected to Clinton City Council in 1996. I served on council until 2002 when I was elected Mayor. I served as Mayor until 2013. In 2013 I was elected to the South Carolina Public Service commission where I served until 2020.

Roth:  City of Clinton councilmember for Ward 5. Elected 2017. Re-elected 2021

How long have you lived in the city limits? If not from here, what brought you to Clinton?

Randall:  I came to Clinton in 1971 as a freshman at Presbyterian College. With the exception of a year and two summers in graduate school, I have lived here ever since. I lived in the city limits from 1976 until about 1981. We moved to Sunset Blvd, just outside the city limits around 1981. We moved back into the city limits in 1995 and still reside here.

Roth:  Born in Clinton. Raised in Clinton. Live in Clinton. Spent 5 years away while serving in the Army.

How important do you think it is that the city function as a council/manager system of Government? How do you see the role of Mayor in ensuring that this form of government operate effectively?

Randall:  The council/manager form of government is absolutely the best form of government for our city. It is very important to have a professional city manager, who has been educated in public administration, planning and other areas pertinent to city government. A manger, who is full time can stay abreast of financial and developmental trends, as well as legislative action that impact our city. The manager has the support of an organization of managers for additional knowledge and ideas. The mayor and council hire the professionally trained manager to act as chief administrator of the council’s policies. The mayor and council are forbidden by law from interfering with the operation of municipal departments under the manager’s control. The mayor and council set policy and the manager implements policy through administrative control of municipal departments.

Roth:  Although we are a minority form of government in the state, I think this system works well for us. As with any system, it is only as good as we make it. The current city council has clearly expressed that it does not want a strong Mayor. When representing the city, they want the Mayor to be more inclusive of all councilmembers. However, there will be times when the

Mayor will need some independence. Council can be briefed later.

Randall:  Laurens County has been growing for years and will continue to grow. Growth is going to come to Clinton. What we must do in Clinton is be ready and be proactive in everything we do in economic development. We must make sure that growth occurs in a way that is most beneficial to all the citizens of Clinton. I think that listening to our citizens and planning are paramount to our success.

Roth:  Laurens County is experiencing tremendous growth with greater potential. We need to encourage and support what we consider the “right” growth and closely manage it.

Do you feel that development impact fees are critical and necessary to offset budget concerns as growth takes place?

Randall:  Impact fees have been in place for industrial and commercial development for many years. I think that from what I am seeing now with the development of neighborhoods and housing developments, there is a need for impact fees with regards to infrastructure needs etc that the city must provide. While we all will eventually benefit with mitigated utility rates from increased demand from new residences, our citizens should not have to be saddled with the cost for up front infrastructure build out such as sewer lift stations etc.

Roth:  With the growth that is coming, there will be great pressure on infrastructure and services. We will need impact fees to pay for this demand. The City of Clinton currently has a study being done to advise us on our options.

What do you think are the top three issues facing Clinton? Which of these poses the most risk and how do you propose mitigating the risk?

Randall:  From my vantage point, I think that the top three issues facing Clinton are:

  1. Economic Development and Jobs
  2. Downtown growth and development
  3. Infrastructure

I think that not investing in and developing our industrial park sites poses big risk and missed opportunities. We need to stay ahead of the curve in developing products that industry can move into. Industrial development is so important because of the large mitigation of our utility rates that we get from an industry that uses electricity, water and natural gas. Adding houses rooftops and families is important. With those come the cost of unique infrastructure needs and increased capacity of police and fire services. We need to make sure that our balance in this area is good. Our downtown growth and development is important. The risk here is that if we don’t have a vibrant downtown, we are less attractive for all types of growth. Infrastructure maintenance and replacement is a huge issue nationwide. Most of the country is on a 200-year replacement cycle for water and sewer utilities. We need to make sure we are ahead of this curve. It is a public health and quality of life issue.

Roth:  Top three priorities are:

  1. PMPA- audit of the utility rate stabilization fund – expiration of our supplemental power contract in 2029.This is our greatest risk. Economic development is our best option to reduce or eliminate this risk.
  2. Start and finish the Police and Fire Complex- $7million
  3. Start and Finish the Recreation Complex- NO MORE DELAYS

If elected, what are your top three priorities (be specific)?

Randall:  My three priorities will be:

  1. Jobs
  2. Managing smart growth and quality of life for all citizens
  3. Encouraging investment in industry and downtown

All things we do as a city are interrelated. We boost jobs through initiatives like the entrepreneurial cooperatives with PC. I’m also glad to see the small business incubator idea that we were working on10 years ago being talked about again. Managing smart growth and enhancing the quality of life of our citizens will take some extra effort on planning and coordination the projects that we currently are involved in so that we finish projects without getting ahead of ourselves. Encouraging investment in industry and downtown are the life blood of our future.

Roth:  Same as #7 above.

If elected, how do you intend to change or improve the City’s partnerships with the City of Laurens, Presbyterian College, Laurens County Development Corporation, and other community stakeholders?

Randall:  I believe that one of my personal strengths is relationship building. All these partners are important to Clinton and Clinton is important to our partners. We are all better when we work together. I will spend a lot of time strengthening relationships as needed, repairing relationships as needed, listening to our citizens and to our partners to make sure that we are maximizing opportunities that will benefit us all.

Roth:  We are a major city in Laurens County. With our incoming growth creating needs inside as well as outside the city, the City of Clinton should ensure that we have a beneficial, cooperative, respectful business relationship with all entities in the county. This additional growth will provide the city with the opportunity to improve our quality of life. This can be enhanced with a strong working relationship with Presbyterian College, Thornwell, schools, our churches, Clinton Canopy, Laurens County Trails and others.

Lastly, what is your strategy or what processes, and initiatives will you implement to achieve your vision?

Randall:  My strategy is to work within the framework of the council/manager form of government to be a voice and an advocate for the city of Clinton. I think that planning is important, so I hope we can initiate a process for a strategic plan that we can follow to ensure that we are accomplishing what our citizens want. My campaign slogan is “Positive Leadership, Experience, and Trust”. Hopefully we can build on these points to move our city forward. Being the Mayor is a worthy job. It is an honor to hold this position of trust and to be a servant leader. I always try to follow the verse in Micah 6:8 which says: Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

Roth:  Where I can provide leadership, I will. Where I can provide management and guidance, I will. However, our best chance of success must include all six members of Council and the 100+ City of Clinton employees.