Controversy arises over councilwoman’s performance and election

Published 1:23 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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Landrum citizens voice concerns to Landrum City Council during public meeting


LANDRUM—At the Landrum City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting held on Tuesday, July 11, Landrum citizens expressed their concern over the recent election and performance of Councilwoman Judy Henderson.

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Landrum resident Mike Southern introduced the speakers, and presented a petition in support of the letters signed by approximately forty Landrum business owners, employees and citizens. 

“We feel the need for the council to hear our voice on some concerns that we have, because our comments reflect the majority of small business owners,” said Southern. 

The controversy regarded not just the citizen’s opinion on Henderson’s performance, but also their lack of being able to contribute to her recent election. Only those within Landrum city limits could vote in the election, and many small business owners in the area don’t live within the voting jurisdiction.

The first letter was read by Patty Otto, owner of the Hare and Hound restaurant. Otto thanked and gave her appreciation of the council’s work, but said she had to express her concerns.

Otto stated she felt that Councilwoman Henderson promotes her own agenda and opposes real property development in and around the City of Landrum. Otto cited that in a May 2023 social media post, Henderson supported the Landrum Comprehensive Plan, but in a later meeting, she called the plan out of date and obsolete. 

Patty Otto addresses the Landrum City Council regarding her concerns at the meeting on July 11. (Photo by Grant Langston)

Otto made claims that Henderson questioned Big Guns Coffee about their legitimacy to operate in South Carolina as they are a North Carolina owned business, and accused Henderson of trying to prevent Bodega Noire from opening its new location because she doesn’t drink alcohol.

“Her only consistency is being inconsistent,” Otto said. Otto also accused Henderson of having disdain for small business, overstepping her authority and incorrectly applying ordinances.

Otto asked that the council “take note of the community’s sentiment and unwillingness to be overrun by a single council member attempting to promote her personal agenda under the guise of being the voice of the people.”

A second letter was read by Kelly Vinesett and Yvonne Babber of P3 (Paws, Prayers and Promises).

“It was abundantly clear in the past weeks that there is a mission to sabotage [that] which is deemed disagreeable,” the letter stated. “We believe it’s a slippery slope to let one or two squeaky wheels gain power over the decisions of our community.”

Kelly Vinesett and Yvonne Babber address the Landrum City Council.

“The last 30 years we’ve worked real hard to make a vibrant downtown, so we know the importance of small businesses.” Mayor Robert Briggs said in response. “If small business feels like it doesn’t have a voice, maybe it’s time to revisit having the chamber of commerce.” 

Briggs stated that the council was open to new suggestions to enable small business owners to feel that they’re being heard, adding “We do hear you, we support you, and we want to see you successful.”