After four years of leading the Conway City Council, Conway’s mayor is adding leading mayors from across the state to her list of responsibilities.
Barbara Blain-Bellamy was recently elected president of the Association of S.C. Mayors in an online vote. She had served as vice president of the group for the past year.
The group functions under the rubric of the S.C. Municipal Association, and has dealt with issues that are shared by cities and towns across the state since 2011. The new president says there are about 250 cities and towns in South Carolina. Not all of their mayors participate in the group, but “an appreciable number” do.
“I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t whisper to anybody that I was interested in a more prominent role…,” Blain-Bellamy said of her new statewide position, crediting her association with the other mayors for her election.
“Before I knew it I had been elected vice president,” she said, adding that there is typically a tradition that the vice president moves up to president.
“I promise you I was nominated without anybody approaching me and asking if I wanted it. I accepted it…I appreciate that others might see an opportunity or a fit for me in a particular role. You know everybody likes to feel that way. I don’t believe in happenstance, or things just happening. Things happen for a reason,” she said.
Blain-Bellamy points to one issue that got a lot of attention over the past year that she believes her group impacted in a positive way for cities.
The group made a case for avoiding changing business license fees that would have been disastrous for cities that rely on the fees for 35 to 50 percent of their budgets. They tackled that issue and came out victorious.
The group also worked hard to impact a move to restrict uses of hospitality and accommodations taxes.
A third issue they concentrated on was downtown revitalization and development of some grants, plus information about best practices.
“It’s an education opportunity for city leadership just to know about what legislative actions are either currently underway or planned,” she said.
Although South Carolina’s cities range from foothills to mountains and heavily-industrialized areas, all the way to tourist areas and farm land and everything in between, she says there are many things they have in common.
One of them is keeping the S.C. Legislature from whittling away at Home Rule, with the mayors preferring to make the rules for their cities locally.
Although the Mayor said she is not seeking statewide recognition through this new position, she acknowledges that it’s a possibility.
She chooses to let her next move be decided as she moves along.
As for more terms as Conway’s mayor after this one, again she isn’t sure.
She began her second four-year term as Conway’s mayor in January.
“I do believe in brief terms for elected officers for a lot of reasons. I believe new people bring in new ideas, a freshness, expand the opportunity. I really don’t believe in double-digit tenure,” she said.
She sees this new position as an opportunity to help citizens in this area and statewide.
As for her future, she said, there’s a world of opportunity out there.