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August/September Uptown Preview – Raines Elected Association President

Mayor Dennis RainesDelegates at the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting unanimously elected Dennis Raines, mayor of the City of Mauldin, as the Association's president. He will serve a one-year term.

The elections took place on July 19 at the Association's Annual Meeting. When asked about his vision for South Carolina hometowns, here is what Raines had to say:

How are cities and towns influencing policy making in a positive way?

To positively influence municipal policy on a statewide level, local officials must keep open lines of communication with state legislators, cabinet agency heads and directors of state agencies. Communicating with statewide leaders early and often goes a long way when officials need to ask for their support on an issue later on. Building these relationships takes time, and it requires mayors and councilmembers to stay engaged. Attend the Association's Hometown Legislative Action Day in February, keep informed about pending legislation, economic development trends and the latest research. Invite legislators to city hall so they can attend a council meeting, or so they can get the inside scoop on a new project in the city. I know everyone has other jobs besides being an elected official, but taking time now to build relationships with legislators will yield great results. You can grow those relationships even more by letting your legislators know when they are taking positive steps to help their cities and towns. A handwritten note of congratulations and thanks will go a long way next time you need help!

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for cities and towns?

 As the leaders who run our cities and towns, we have a great responsibility to take advantage of everything that is offered to us to help us do our jobs better. The Municipal Association has expanded opportunities for education and training resources through the Municipal Elected Officials Institute. We must keep abreast of all the tools in our toolbox to be the most effective leaders for the residents we represent. The Association offers us multiple resources, from field service managers to conferences and affiliate organizations that help elected officials and staff learn, become more involved and grow into more effective leaders for our residents.

How do cities and towns make South Carolina economically successful?

I once heard Bobby Hitt, the SC Department of Commerce secretary, say, "If you don't invest in your own cities, others won't — they will go elsewhere. Companies want to be where there is a feeling of success, not a feeling of desperation. They want to see successful cities and towns. Give them something you can brag about!"

In Mauldin, I have held this advice from Secretary Hitt close as we move forward. If you do not have a natural element in your city or town that makes it a destination, be creative and  develop an element that will be a draw for visitors and residents. Cities and towns are the gas in our state's economic engine. We move our state towards bigger and better opportunities and successes, and as long as our cities and towns are strong, our great state will be as well.