Tonight’s vote for a new municipality in our area was 682 Yes, 950 No.

As I stated throughout the past year and a half, I’m glad tonight’s vote was able to finally take place so that we could move forward one way or another and hopefully work together towards what I really believe are common goals. Mainly, having our voices heard.

Whether you were one of the 682 that wanted it or the 950 that didn’t, I’m glad you went today to cast your vote.

There’s nothing that says democracy like giving people a chance to vote on their future and that was what this was about. That’s why I applaud the folks that worked to make the vote even possible. I remember the effort I put in (and continue to put in) to represent our area and I also know the work required for folks (on both sides of the issue) to go door-to-door, stuff newspaper boxes, have forums, make signs, etc.

A year ago, the chance to even have this vote seemed like an impossibility. There was such friction between the Town of Irmo and the Ballentine community that it seemed there would be no middle ground.

I applaud Irmo Council Members Kathy Condom and Harvey Hoots and Irmo Town Administrator John Hanson who agreed to my request to meet with a group from the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association to talk about “Walmart and annexation“. My role was easy – just rely on my friendships to help people sit down and talk. I only needed to mediate the two groups that night. Their role was tougher – putting aside any hard feelings and meet in one room for an hour – and they did just that.

Tonight’s vote was a result of that meeting. Hopefully, the movement behind it will only help to allow our community/communities to co-exist with a better understanding of one another. I also hope Richland County Council was listenting too. Our area pays a LARGE portion of taxes to the county and all we ask in return is to have our Council Member, Bill Malinowski, be listened to when he presents needs and concerns. I honestly believe our goals are the same in our community, people just have different ways of accomplishing those goals.

It’s no different than what I face daily in Columbia in the General Assembly. Sure we try to put labels on many things: R’s and D’s. Liberal/Conservative. More government/Less Government. Raise taxes/Reduce services. Regardless, I really believe people ultimately want what they feel will best improve their quality of life!