City Council candidate DeWorken is pro-business but aims to protect neighborhoods from “commercial creep”

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John DeWorken

Greenville City Council candidate John DeWorken’s list of the top issues facing the city are similar to those of other candidates ­– growth, traffic, and preserving neighborhoods. But DeWorken said his experience as a Greenville businessman, president of the North Main Community Association, and as vice chairman of the Greenville Transit Authority Board would allow him to bring a different set of skills to City Council.

DeWorken officially announced he would run as a Republican for the at-large seat on Greenville City Council currently held by Gaye Sprague. Sprague has held the seat since 2009.

“I intimately know the important issues neighborhoods are dealing with today. I know the importance of supporting small business and existing businesses,” said DeWorken, a partner in the Sunnie & DeWorken Group, a pro-business, South Carolina-based government relations and advocacy firm. “I believe I have a lot to offer as a candidate. I’ll bring a unique perspective to Council.”

DeWorken said one of his strengths in his professional and civic career has been his ability to form teams to accomplish great things. “I have a history of being able to inclusively bring people together to solve issues,” he said.

DeWorken, who served as vice president of government relations and communications for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Upstate Chamber Coalition before starting his own business, said the city needs to “grow uniquely Greenville.”

“For 20 to 25 years, city leaders have been trying to grow Greenville. Now, the people are coming. We have to make sure we grow in a way so that 20 years from now we look back and say, “Good, we did that right” DeWorken said. “A sidebar to growth is traffic. I don’t think we hear enough about what to do about today’s traffic and tomorrow’s traffic.”

DeWorken said Greenville must maintain a balance between economic development and neighborhoods and quality of life. He said economic development announcements tout when companies bring 150 new jobs or make $2 million in investments. But, he said, neighborhood residents have invested in the city, too.

“It’s incumbent that we treat neighborhoods as major investors, whether that’s owning or renting, or whether it’s rich or poor. We have a responsibility to invest in keeping neighborhoods safe with police protection, lighting, calming traffic, and such,” he said.

To that end, DeWorken said the city must focus on its major arteries and make sure development there fits the neighborhood. “We’ve got to guard against commercial creep,” he said.

He said the city must have an overarching goal of improving and enhancing the quality of life and “everything else will fall underneath,” he said.

He said he supports increasing affordable housing and said that the bus system should develop routes from the city’s population centers to its job centers. “I still don’t understand the spoke system,” DeWorken said. “People want to get from where they live to where they work and vice versa without having to go downtown.”

DeWorken is a Clemson graduate. He serves on the Urban League of the Upstate Board of Directors and the Upstate Chamber Coalition Advisory boards and was formerly a Clemson University Alumni National Council member, national president of the Clemson University Young Alumni and the City of Greenville Beautification Commission. He was twice named to Greenville Magazine’s 50 Most Influential People list and was named one of Greenville Magazine’s Best and Brightest in 2006.

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