In the upcoming mayoral election, Woodruff faces a significant decision as it chooses between two candidates, both of whom have previously held the position. Incumbent Kenneth Gist and challenger Brad Burnett are set to go head-to-head in the race. The Woodruff Times recently engaged with both candidates, asking them pivotal questions about their qualifications, experiences, and political backgrounds. In this article, we present their responses, shedding light on the contenders who seek to lead the community forward.
1. What qualifications and experience do you have that make you suitable for the role of mayor?
2. Can you share your professional and political background?
Kenneth Gist (incumbent)
1. Experience and hardwork is key to making a local government successful. I have been mayor and on council for a combined 16 years. During that time we have made a lot of progress for our community, but we have a long way to go. My job as Mayor is to make Woodruff a better place for our children and our future. I am excited about the future of Woodruff and hope I can continue the journey if reelected in November.
2. I have owned and or operated W.J. Gist Mortuary for 41 years and I understand the daily struggles of a small business. As a small town mayor I do not get into the issues of a political party. I am “pro Woodruff” and make every decision to benefit our community.
Question 1 and 2 combined…
I am Brad Burnett and a lifelong resident of Spartanburg County, and lean toward a conservative mindset when it comes to spending and managing resources.
I served as Mayor of the City of Woodruff from 2008-2012 and then was re-elected in 2016 and served until the election moved to 2019.
Early on, the city was faced with financial hardship resulting from the downturn of the textile industry and the closing of both of the large mills. We began to get control of the costs and expenses and began to work on moving forward. Many things needed to change, and we worked together to successfully help downtown businesses to begin the process of restoration and revitalization with facade grants and began to see interest in revitalizing the downtown area of our city. Those efforts spurred growth, and the need to expand and improve the infrastructure of the city (specifically the sewer) became evident. The move to upgrade and increase the capacity of our infrastructure has led to the ability to handle the new business and residential growth that is evident throughout the city of Woodruff today. The current level of growth and development has been a long term accomplishment of Woodruff City Council and the leadership team managing the city needs. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with city management and use the connection obtained through over 40 years in executive management a call on the relationships to help and advise our city. Having served multiple terms on the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce board of directors and utilizing the relationships in Columbia obtained from terms as Chairman of the South Carolina Manufacturing Association and the SCTMA which is the textile branch of manufacturing leadership gave knowledge of who is who in Columbia whether DHEC or OSHA or the Municipal Association of SC who really came alongside Woodruff to help. All the good stuff you see in Woodruff is a result of a quality team effort and I am proud of all these accomplishments.
I will utilize all of my business experience and my personal relationships to help Woodruff to continue to grow and prosper and help to overcome problems associated with that growth, like the traffic difficulties and working with DOT4 in the upstate I believe we can work to avert a large percentage of the tractor trailer traffic especially that which comes via the Port of Charleston and the inland port in Greer. Also holding costs revenue neutral as we move forward will benefit our seniors, and those who live in the lower income or need assistance with their costs of living and calling Woodruff home. I would appreciate the community’s vote in the upcoming election on November 7, 2023.