Things change. It’s one of life’s unavoidable facts.
Lately I’ve reflected on some of the changes Greenwood has seen in the last year or so.
Earlier this year, District 4 state Sen. Billy O’Dell, a powerful longtime legislator, passed away. Greenwood lost an incredible advocate with his passing. Now that seat has shifted to a senator from Anderson. I think Greenwood lost something in the deal.
Former four-decade state Sen. John Drummond also died this year. Though he was no longer in office, Drummond cast a long shadow in this county. That shadow is no more. A Greenwood without John Drummond in it simply is a different place.
And the list goes on. Ray Brooks is retiring as Piedmont Tech’s president at the end of this school year. Bob Fisher, who swept onto Greenwood County Council with a wave of newcomers back in 2012, only lasted a term, losing his seat to Theo Lane this year. Jeff May retired this year from his post as Lander University’s longtime athletic director. In March, longtime Greenwood County Democratic Party leader and political agitator Norval Davis died.
Change is always at hand -- offices switch occupants, people retire, folks pass away -- but it has seemed particularly ramped up in Greenwood the last year or so.
That season of change has now made its way to City Hall, even if one shift won’t happen for a couple years.
One of the more attention-grabbing headlines of the past week in Greenwood was undoubtedly the news, broken Wednesday by the Index’s Adam Benson, that Mayor Welborn Adams would not seek re-election beyond his current term, which ends in 2018.
Adams was first elected to a partial term following former Mayor Floyd Nicholson’s election to the state Senate in 2008. The attorney’s first full term began in 2010, and his second full term began in 2014.
While I was a bit surprised at the timing of Adams’ declaration that he would not seek a third full term — after all, 2018 is still two years away — I wasn’t surprised by the decision itself. Adams has long made overtures that he would not seek the mayor’s seat beyond two full terms.
While a full appraisal of Adams’ time at City Hall will likely come in two years, when his time as the leader of City Council is complete, I can say that, as of this moment, he has done a solid job heading up the municipal government.
For one, he was tasked with taking over the mayoral seat after Nicholson, who was an extraordinarily popular mayor. Never an easy task.
Adams has subsequently been integral in keeping the city’s budget balanced and lean, helped push through to completion the Uptown Market on Maxwell Avenue, has championed the revitalization of Uptown (which is starting to gain real steam), has been critical in the renewed dialogue between the county and city we have seen in recent years and was one who was at the forefront of selling the recently passed capital project sales tax, an initiative that I believe will be looked back upon as a key moment in Greenwood’s history.
Now he is a Vanderbilt fan, so that’s troubling. And, again, there are two years left on his current term, so for all we know the city could go off the rails under his watch between now and 2018. But I’m betting he’ll keep things rolling along.
In another City Council change, I was heartened to see that longtime Councilman Johnny Williams was sent off last week with a nice reception after his final meeting. Williams, who served 32 years on the Council, the longest term in city history, was soundly defeated by Matthew Miller in the Nov. 8 general election.
It seems Williams is at peace with the results of the election, and that’s a good thing. He had a heck of a run.
In reading the coverage of Williams’ reception, one of my favorite comments was from Councilwoman Linda Edwards. If you are at all familiar with Council, you know that the political fireworks between Edwards and Williams were legendary.
But, there was respect -- a respect I think we need to bring back to politics, in general.
“I’ve been with him 19 of those 32 years,” Edwards said. “He’s strong willed and I’m strong willed but at the end of the day, we’d meet in the middle of the road, shake hands and live to fight another day. I’m going to miss him.”
Indeed, many people will.
Chris Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter@ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.