Florence mayor announces he won’t seek 4th term; speaks on racial division in city, penny sales tax, infrastructure

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela has announced he won’t seek a 4th term and spoke on several topics, including racial division in the city, the penny sales tax, and infrastructure.

Mayor Wukela spoke at the Florence Center during the Chamber’s annual luncheon on Thursday, where he made the announcement. News13 was at his address.

Wukela was first elected mayor in 2008. Filing for the November 2020 general election will open in March and a primary election will be held in June.

“I Rise today with the hope and belief that I have, over the last decade, fulfilled my duty to you as Mayor. It is with that hope, and that belief, that I announce today that I will not seek reelection to the office of Mayor next year,” Mayor Wukela said as he opened his speech. “The decision is not born of a loss of my devotion to the City and its future interest; nor hy a lack of gratitude for your many kindnesses. But I am hopeful that my choice is compatible with both devotion and gratitude.”

Mayor Wukela then spoke on “the importance and future challenges of building and maintaining the hard infrastructure of water, sewer, and storm water public works, as well as roads,” a press release said.

He also said more road maintenance funding is needed.

“The $35 county road maintenance fee, totaling over $1 million annually collected by the County on 30,000 city vehicles, and spent by the County elsewhere.”

Mayor Wukela went on to speak about the Florence County’s penny sales tax.

“His comments on the current County I penny sales tax of which he noted ‘over $100 million dollars have been collected by the County on sales within the City; while only $20 million we allocated by the County to the City for use maintaining city roads’ foreshadow a coming showdown between the City and County over the future County I penny sales tax referendum,” the release stated.

Mayor Wukela “also spoke directly to the issue of race,” saying “the single biggest threat to our Future success as City is racial division. We must recognize and practically address our history of division in this City, black from white, North from South.”

The mayor ended his speech by saying:

“I have, over the last decade, been fortunate to lead City during a time in which opportunity met people of good will. The partnerships – the dear friendships – that have been forged and tested made great success possible. We will continue that work in my remaining year, and it is my earnest hope that my successor, whomever that is (perhaps some young-brash, upstart that shows up uninvited – as I did) will have my same good fortune. Thank you and godspeed.”

CLICK HERE to read the full release from Mayor Wukela’s address.

City Administrator Drew Griffin told News13 he’s pleased with Mayor Wukela’s leadership.

“I think we formed a great team, and I think that in many ways we’ve achieved a good bit,” Griffin said.

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