The city of Mauldin recently brought its six living mayors together for a photo-op to reflect on more than 40 years of shared history and to celebrate former mayor L.S. Green’s 100th birthday.
Green, who turned 100 on Feb. 29, came to the Mauldin area at age 8. After serving in World War II, he settled in Mauldin and has remained a resident since.
“When I came out of the service [following WWII], my daddy bought some property over on Fowler Circle,” Green said. “I built my house in 1955.”
Green went on to own property, including L.S. Green Plaza on East Butler Road in Mauldin, served on Mauldin City Council and eventually became the city’s mayor.
L.S. Green: Making Mauldin better
Green decided to run for mayor of the city because “I thought I could make it better,” he said. “The ones that followed me have done pretty good.”
During Green’s 12 years in office, Mauldin built its City Hall and Sunset Park and laid the groundwork for the Mauldin Cultural Center. While Green feels that City Hall was a big accomplishment of his administration because of the opposition he faced in building it, he simply wants to be remembered as a good citizen of Mauldin.
Wayne Crick: From town to city
While Green came to office later in life, former mayor Wayne Crick was 32 years old when he assumed the role in 1979. During his term, the city limits expanded across Interstate 385 to Bridges and E. Butler roads.
Annexing was about moving Mauldin forward and building the tax base, said Crick. “Mauldin was a town when I took office, and now it’s a city.”
Don Godbey: Organic growth for downtown
Like Crick, former mayor Don Godbey takes pride in having helped the city grow and develop. Godbey took office during the 2008 recession, and he said his term was focused on growing the downtown area organically.
“When I was on council and as mayor, we started the cultural center [and] bought the 17 acres for the cultural center and sports center property,” Godbey said. “The 10 years I served was all about building the downtown area organically. Slow growth, but a central place for people to get together. That’s why the sports center was the first thing built. [It was about] getting foot traffic into the downtown area.”
In addition to growing the downtown area, Godbey also focused on getting the community involved through meetings in city hall and reaching out to homeowner’s associations. He also gave a civics lesson to the Mauldin Elementary School second grade classes while he was in office.
“The purpose behind that [the visit] was not just to communicate to those seven year olds, but to have them communicate to their parents that we need interface,” said Godbey. “It’s harder to cast stones when you are part of the process.”
R.C. Jones: Focus on unity
Like the other mayors, R.C. Jones used his two nonconsecutive terms to help grow Mauldin. During his time in office, the city obtained the property behind City Hall and purchased the senior center property. However, Jones said his biggest challenge in office was keeping the peace among council members.
“[Being mayor] was a challenging situation because I’m an independent,” he said. “I really had a challenge on my hands because I had three Republicans and three Democrats on council.”
Dennis Raines: Managing growth
Following more than 30 years of growth through annexation and city center planning, Dennis Raines, who came into office in 2012, said his greatest challenge was managing Mauldin’s rate of growth.
“We are one of the fastest growing cities in the state while trying to keep up with what’s going on with traffic and all that,” said Raines. “When you get all those people in the community, you have to face the issue of how to manage all of this. That’s the hardest thing to do.”
Raines spent his tenure as mayor focusing on advancing the development of a city center concept at Butler and Main streets and putting money back in reserves.
“You aren’t spending your own money,” Raines said. “I didn’t take it lightly. Every year [we focused on] putting money back in reserves. You never know when you are going to end up like Seneca and end up bearing the brunt of a tornado.”
Terry Merritt: Advocate for growth
Mauldin’s current mayor, Terry Merritt, followed Raines into office earlier this year. Merritt said he decided to run because he felt the city needed an enthusiastic advocate for its growth.
“Mauldin had so many things ready to happen, it needed a cheerleader type to push it forward,” said Merritt. “It had reached a point that had been talked about so many years [that] citizens thought it wasn’t going to happen. A more upfront, communicative mayor was what I thought was needed. We have had some great mayors in the past. My predecessor was great mayor. ”
Merritt says that going forward, Mauldin has to have walkability to attract the next generation. He is currently focusing on working on the city center concept, addressing stormwater runoff issues and revitalizing East Butler Road to relieve traffic issues.
“[We are working on] building a new image,” Merritt said. “Mauldin is a destination now. People come here for entertainment.”
Mauldin needs to be seen as a good place to eat and visit, Merritt said. “We are sorely lacking in that kind of walkability,” he said. “I would say to come to Mauldin to play, to dine, to be entertained.”