Balding outspending Williams in Greer CPW race

Salary for CPW commissioner is $9,600 annually

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Monday, July 23, 2012

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Perry Williams is the incumbent seeking re-election for commissioner for Greer CPW. 

Perry Williams is the incumbent seeking re-election for commissioner for Greer CPW. 

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Jerry Balding, former Greer CPW general manager for 21 years, is participating in his first election campaign.

Jerry Balding, former Greer CPW general manager for 21 years, is participating in his first election campaign.

Jerry Balding has outspent Perry Williams by more than $4,400 and $2,000 more than the salary for commissioner for Greer Commission of Public Works.

The South Carolina State Ethics Commission for public disclosure and accountability reporting system shows Balding spending $11,671.84 and Williams totaling $7,265.44 in their race for the at-large seat for Greer CPW. Balding has outspent Williams by 38 percent. The ethics report is from Jan. 1, 2012 through July 23. The Ethics Commission requires a final report after the elections.

The annual salary for the CPW commissioner is $9,600.

Both candidates have run their campaigns on fiscal responsibility and keeping utilities rates in check for CPW customers.

The election for the lone municipal race is Tuesday with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m. Votes will be counted at City Hall. Tuesday’s weather forecast is for high temperatures reaching 95 degrees with a feel of 101. Scattered thunderstorms are forecast

Conway Belangia, Greenville County Director Election Bureau, anticipates a “decent” turnout for Tuesday’s election considering it’s the first one that has been held in mid-summer. Williams and Leland Burch drew 1,050 voters to the polls for their Greer CPW runoff in November 2009.

“These two candidates have put forth a tremendous effort and that should be good,” Belangia said. “These candidates are known in the community and the special election will look like a city election with its turnout.”

Balding, who has attended past Greer CPW meetings during the campaign, was noticeably missing today.

It is Balding’s first venture running for public office. He has worked in utilities virtually his entire adult life, first as a linesman with Duke Power, then general manager of Seneca’s utilities and finally 21 years as GM at Greer CPW where he retired in 2009.

Williams, president of a boutique international consulting company, formerly served on Greer City Council. He is Vice President of the Greer Trust and board member of the Greer Development Corporation.

“I only need one more vote than my opponent,” Williams said in GreerToday. “I’ve had a very deliberate approach for this election. I recycled my signs from the last election because I knew I would be using them again.”

The ethics report shows Balding spending $3,942 on signage. “We put a lot of signs out,” Balding said.

Balding said name recognition will carry him in Tuesday’s voting. “My name is recognizable and I have spent a lot of time talking with customers. People seemed to appreciate me coming to their door and talking with them,” Balding said.

Williams has combined traditional campaigning with social media. “I am testing to see if multi-media combined with traditional makes a difference,” Williams said. “I’ve worked Facebook and maintained analytics. I’ve knocked on every door our campaign recognized as super voters.” Williams defined super voters as a person who goes “to the polls every time a (precinct polling) door opens.”

Balding said he would emphasize CPW to educate its customers with its rate structure versus other communities in Greer’s size demographic. “We need to educate people, reassure them we answer to our customers. We need to explain to customers they get a bill for four different utilities. I want the role of the commissioner to go out and meet people.”

Williams and Greer CPW distributed documents to the media late last year illustrating the utility ranked No. 2 on a list with a dozen other upstate utilities providing the lowest rates among comparable municipalities.

“I’ve worked hard to hold the line on utility rates,” Williams said. “People are concerned about utility bills. What may be $300 and reasonable for one customer may not be for customers with a $100 bill.

Williams voted against the commission’s rate increase last December. “I am viewed as a conservative and perceived by some supporting more liberal ideas,” he said.


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