GREENVILLE — Two incumbent council members are seeking reelection in May.
Doug Schmidt and Tracy Tryon are hoping to hold on to their at-large seats on Greenville City Council. The first test will come May 2 when Tryon and Schmidt will go up against Doug Wright and Jeff Whitaker in the Republican primary. Only three of the four Republicans will move on to the general election in November. Sue House, a Democrat, is also seeking a seat on council.
The two councilmen discussed with The Daily Advocate their time on council and what they hope to see accomplished by the Treaty City in the future.
Schmidt’s “day” job is at Fram in Greenville, where he works as a technician. He’s been on council for 12 years, serving as chairman of the Law Committee. He’s also served on the the Finance Committee, the Main Street Greenville Board, and the GPAT Board.
When asked what accomplishments he’s most proud of during his time on council, Schmidt said it has been a collective effort.
“We have had several good things happen while I have been on council,” he said. “Rezoning of the land that the new K-8 school sits on. And now getting to see the finished product. We have had several new businesses come into Greenville and the expansion and retention of many more.”
“I think one of the things that gets overlooked is the quality of life that we enjoy and expect. The city is still able to offer the limb pickup and the leaf pickup. Several parades and other events including the fireworks,” he added.
As for what he’d like to see happen if reelected, Schmidt pointed to the city’s infrastructure.
“Moving forward there are several streets that need to be repaired or repaved. There are also some projects that are getting ready to begin. All of this has to be planned out so that it fits into our budget. Less help is available from the state each year so it is more important now than ever to plan ahead and spend our dollars wisely.”
He also brought up cooperation between the city and the school district.
“I feel another good thing that may get overlooked is the resource officer at the school,” he said. “There has been positive feedback about this program. It has been a good partnership between the city and the school.”
Schmidt says that while he cannot comment on the situation between the city and the Erwin Bros. fuel stop, he expressed hope it will be resolved soon.
“I will say that I hope it all gets resolved and I would really like to see them be able to open for business,” he said.
Tryon was first elected to council in 1992 and served to 2000, representing the city’s second ward. He was appointed to the at-large seat in 2007, where he currently serves. In all, Tryon has served on council for a total of 18 years.
He is the chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Personnel and Utilities Committees.
A lifelong resident of Greenville and a graduate of Greenville Schools, Tryon retired from Greenville City Schools after 34 and a half years as a teacher. He taught in several different areas including Marketing, Math, Health, Physical Education, and English/Reading.
Tryon said he is proud of many improvements he’s seen during his time on council.
“The retention of Whirlpool in 1994 and the reconstruction of Wagner Avenue and the Russ Road extension to Route 121 were some of the biggest accomplishments in my first tenure on council,” he said. “Currently I feel that when I came back on council in 2007, the finances were low and there were a lot of cuts that had to be made. With the cuts and a solid economic development program the city has been able to recover. This year the council was able to approve a budget that included finally getting the Police Department up to full strength and also approved street paving projects that are the largest the city has undertaken.”
Despite the successes, Tryon believes the city still faces many challenges.
“The top three issues that council will face during the next few years will continue to be finances, infrastructure and the city’s safety forces,” he explained. “As we have seen the monies coming back to the city from state and federal programs has and will continue to decline, so the administration and council will have to continually develop a strategic program that gives priority to new projects that fit into the needs of the city while still being able to maintain the programs and services that we have.”
“To remain fiscally responsible, the city will have to work within the budget and continue to seek outside revenue sources that allows the city to improve upon the services and programs that are provided to the citizens,” said Tryon. “The safety forces, Police and Fire need to be evaluated in a way that fits today’s society. The police need the tools and manpower to face the changing and complex situations that they encounter daily, and so that they can provide the protection that the citizens expect. Fire is a department that needs to be looked at to see if a cooperation between Greenville Township and city can be developed that allows for some sort of shared responsibility for coverage while creating a savings for the taxpayers.”
Like Schmidt, Tryon did not go into detail regarding the impasse between the city and the Erwin Bros. fuel stop, but did say, “The situation with the Erwin Bros. fuel center needs to be resolved. All parties concerned need to agree to meet and work out a solution.”
Tryon feels his 18 years on council can continue to benefit the city.
“I feel that my experience and understanding of the history and finances of the city are a benefit that I bring as a member of council. I share with other council members what has and has not worked in the past. I feel that as the chairman of the Finance Committee, I had a part of assisting the city to achieve a high level of financial responsibility that many cities do not have.”
“I am willing to listen to new ideas that can improve upon what the city has to offer to the residents, businesses and visitors. I am proud of what the city has accomplished while I have been a member of council and excited to see the continued growth in the future,” he added.