Norman Jackson, District 11, was elected Chair of Richland County Council for 2014 by his colleagues on Council at their first meeting of the year. Jackson met with the Richland County Public Information Office to discuss his plans and priorities for the coming year. To view the edited interview on Richland County's YouTube page, click here.
(Please note, answers below have been edited for content.)
1. What inspired or motivated you to offer yourself for public service?
I’ve always been taught to do my civic duty. In Lower Richland, I saw the need to help and improve the quality of life for the citizens … and, that’s why I decided to get involved. It’s something that’s been in me since I was young.
2. What words do you use to define and describe your leadership style?
Integrity, determination and getting things done.
3. What do you consider the top three priorities that face Richland County and County Council this next year, in 2014?
(1) The bus has to be done, and done right. Citizens are dependent on it.
(2) The paving and construction of new roads and widening intersections and trails. Statewide, different counties and cities have tried the penny sales tax and we’re learning what to do, what not to do and how to do it better. (It’s) one of the most important things we need to do.
(3) The next thing is developing better and stronger relationships with municipalities and other governments, and work with our legislative delegation.
4. What do you consider the top three challenges facing Richland County today?
First is economic development and bringing quality companies to the County. (Next,) we have to strengthen our infrastructure – roads, water, sewer, utilities – to bring those companies here. (Finally), working with citizens. Those are the main things.
5. What approaches would you engage to promote better collaboration between Richland County and municipalities?
We are a part of the Midlands and have to partner instead of competing against each other for certain businesses to come. It’s (about) developing a relationship and trust so we can work together more to bring companies here. That’s one of the major things I see we need to do.
6. Many county governments have talked about the challenges over the past 10 years from reductions in the Local Government Fund. What ideas or approaches would you like to see used to try to increase the funding sent back to local governments, not just here but across the entire state?
First, legislative delegations have to understand the importance of that funding. They cut this funding, and then local government has to find a way to fill it. For us to move forward as a state, we have to find a way to increase or bring us back to the level of funding we used to receive. If not, it’s going to be really hard.
7. What qualities and characteristics do you bring to this new leadership post as Chairman of County Council?
I prepared myself initially by being on different board and committees statewide and then eight years on the Planning Commission. I helped develop the comprehensive land use plan and different visions for Richland County. So, that prepared me in understanding the needs of the citizens. Being an engineer and transportation planner (gives) me a wide view how to get things done. So, I’m more prepared; I’m a people person; and I’m ready to listen and move this County forward.
8. You’ve been on County Council now for seven years. How has Richland County changed in the seven years you’ve been on County Council?
Over the (past) seven years, I have watched Richland County grow by approximately 38,000 citizens. We have companies that have moved into the area and there will be more. That’s why we have to improve our road system and transportation. We have grown, we’re changing and we’ll continue to change. We just have to be sure we’re prepared to accept those challenges.
9. Is there anything you would like to share with the residents of Richland County that we haven’t already touched on?
For now, I am ready to meet goals and challenges, and move this County forward. I’m ready to work with the legislative delegation, our municipalities, and reach out into other places to help. So, that’s what I will be bringing forward.