Todd Horne believes Spartanburg is unequaled in nurturing the aspirations of its young professionals. And the 34-year-old husband and father of two plans to put that theory to the test like he never has before.
On Tuesday, April 11, Horne, vice president of business development for Spartanburg-based Clayton Construction Co., was set to announce his candidacy for the Spartanburg mayor’s seat during a ceremony at the Monarch Café and Fresh Food Store near downtown.
Filing for the race will open on June 14, according to Spartanburg County’s office of Voter Registration and Elections.
Incumbent Spartanburg Mayor Junie White could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but other local media outlets reported he plans to run for a third term.
Horne said he resigned his position at the Spartanburg Chamber on Monday. Spartanburg businessman John Easterling, who was the chamber’s chairman-elect, has taken over Horne’s role.
Although he wasn’t born in Spartanburg, Horne said he considers it to be his hometown.
During the past nine years, Horne has continued to strengthen his ties to the community through his involvement with local and regional business organizations, including the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Spartanburg Young Professionals, Hub-Bub, and Ten at the Top.
At age 33, Horne was chosen to serve as the 2016 chairman of the Spartanburg Chamber. He is the youngest chairman in the business organization’s history.
In that role, Horne was instrumental in organizing and advancing One Spartanburg, a strategic visioning plan. The plan provides a framework for efforts that seek to boost the cultural and economic prosperity of the community, and elevate the lives of its citizens for decades to come.
Business officials in Spartanburg and beyond have hailed Horne as a gregarious, energetic, and skilled leader.
However, a variety of social and economic challenges remain. Horne said he knows the city’s top elected leader will have to help steer the community through those challenges.
Upstate Business Journal caught up with Horne to discuss his candidacy and vision for the city of Spartanburg.
What made you decide to run for mayor?
In my position at Clayton Construction Co., I have spent time all over the region. Since we are based in Spartanburg, I have not only been promoting the company, but also promoting Spartanburg as a great place to live, work, and play. Selling Spartanburg — that’s what I love to do. That’s what’s the most fun. I know all of the mayors in our region, including Greenville Mayor Knox White and Greer Mayor Rick Danner. I have a great relationship with them and I believe those relationships will be important if I’m elected.
What’s next for Spartanburg?
Mayor [Knox] White told me he believes that every community has a Falls Park; you just have to figure out what it is. I think it’s [Morgan] Square. He said he believes the Montgomery Building [redevelopment] will do the same thing for downtown Spartanburg that the Westin [Poinsett] did for Greenville. … The mayor is a connector. They are responsible for connecting the dots. That’s something I do every day.
Are you too young to be Mayor?
No. In preparing for this announcement, I’ve had more than 70 meetings with people in the community since Jan. 1. A lot of it is just listening and then prioritizing what’s going to move the needle as a community. City Manager Ed Memmott’s job is to run the city. … It all comes down to relationships. Public-private partnerships are going to be very important going forward. … I’ve been making those connections for years just from the developer side.
What are some of your other priorities?
There is still a lot of poverty in the community and I think we have to continue to address those needs. I think we need to continue to improve our gateways to downtown. That’s something that can be addressed with those public-private partnerships. … We’ve already raised more than $50,000 in commitments for this campaign. I’ve been having meetings and focusing on understanding what people want in a leader.
In regards to favoritism, what would you say to those who believe certain people or companies might get preferential treatment?
I would say every person is only one out of 35,000 in the city. We need to be inclusive and mindful of the needs of all of our citizens, and not show any favoritism. There are a lot of people in this city and no single person, the mayor included, is more important than any others.
What does Spartanburg need?
We have to continue to drive economic development. With 35 percent of our land mass not taxable, we’ve got to be proactive versus reactive. As a city, we need a mayor who is going to be visible. We need someone who is going to tell our story on a local level and at a regional level. We need someone who is accountable and accessible.
What are some other key issues?
I think retaining young talent is important. We have 15,000 college students from all walks of life here. Keeping them here will have a very good impact. Affordable housing is going to be important. … I’d like to more startups. Part of that is having co-working space. We’ve got to have places where people can collaborate, network, and build relationships. Quality of life will be very important. We have to be somewhere where people want to live.
How do you plan to deliver?
It’s tough to sit here. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. I’ll be part of a team. On City Council, there are seven other people. … It will be important for me to learn what the key initiatives are. … The thing I always like to say is the city has budget restraints, but it doesn’t cost us anything to tell our story or to listen.
Family: Wife, Stephanie; daughter, Harper, 4; and son, Holton, 2.
Job: Vice President of Business Development at Spartanburg-based Clayton Construction Co.
Political Experience: None
Public Service: Chairman of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, 2016; board of directors members for Hub-Bub, Ten at the Top, and Spartanburg Young Professionals.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from the University of South Carolina-Upstate, 2005.
Awards: Spartanburg Chamber Volunteer of the Year, 2009; Leadership Spartanburg Emerging Leader Award, 2012; Spartanburg Chamber Young Professional of the Year, 2013; Leadership Spartanburg Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year, 2016; Upstate Business Journal Who’s Who Wild Card, 2016; USC Upstate Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2016.