Name: Cathy McCabe
Past political experience: None; City of Spartanburg Attorney (2006-2017)
How do you define equity and how does that translate into how you approach financial, programmatic, and policy decisions?
For me, equity means people starting on a level playing field. If the field isn’t level, it’s our duty as leaders to ask, “How can we help?” Equity is a means to the end, which should be full equality.
Minority Americans continue to face inequity and inequality. I’m glad that Spartanburg’s elected leaders have recognized the injustice of demolishing African American homes in the 1970s, but there’s more work to be done. It’s unacceptable that some of our citizens lack opportunity just because of their skin color, neighborhood, or orientation.
Handicap ramps are a prime example of what government can do to fix inequity; such efforts should ultimately better the world for all. Such measures might “cost” more, but they cost far less than inequity in academics, housing, and employment, to name a few areas.
What can the city do to make downtown a more welcoming environment for Black and Brown residents, visitors and entrepreneurs?
It’s frustrating to hear Black, Brown and minority residents say “there’s nothing for us” in Spartanburg. We must fix that!
To be more welcoming, we must communicate better that it’s EVERYONE’s city. If we don’t find a way to bring things of interest for Black, Brown, and minority residents, they won’t move here – and if they do move here, they probably won’t stay. The city needs more diverse cultural programming, including music, art, and food festivals that we don’t have now.
I’ll support continued recruitment of minority entrepreneurs and small business owners to downtown and encourage collaboration between them and city government. Whether it’s Black, Brown, Asian, Hispanic, Latinx or LGBTQ+ residents, I’ll be a mayor who reaches out to everyone to better our city.
Diversity makes us stronger – and Spartanburg should be a place where we respect all people, even if we disagree.
As the city continues to attract economic development, what proactive steps can the city take to protect neighborhoods from gentrification?
When developers show interest, we should always require meetings with neighborhood residents and leaders. People need to buy into a vision to protecting historic neighborhoods and preserving community. Economic development can be a win-win for all if done with collaboration between the city, developers, and neighborhoods.
Speaking of neighborhoods, our city’s zoning should protect them. Unchecked development reduces quality of life, while proper development can increase quality of life.
Affordable housing remains a huge challenge across the Upstate. City Council should always be mindful of how new development affects existing home values and potentially prices people out of their home and our city. I will continue to support developers of workforce housing, as I’m concerned that many of our own city employees can’t afford housing within the city.
Finally, I’ll encourage neighborhood associations to stand together in working to prevent gentrification.
List three steps the city can take to help combat gun violence.
1. Encourage economic mobility through education to help lift people out of poverty. Poverty leads to hopelessness and hopelessness leads to taking dire actions such as joining gangs, committing crimes, etc.
2. Combat mental illness and improve disparities in health care.
3. Increase law enforcement visibility and encourage positive interactions with city police, especially among our youth.
Spartanburg has been a place immigrant and refugee communities have contributed to shaping since the 1950s. And Spartanburg attracts very high rates of foreign direct investment. How can Spartanburg leverage its strengths in a global future?
The world is growing rapidly more connected. I suspect the city and county will continue to attract more companies, investments, and workers, given how Spartanburg has always welcomed international neighbors.
Let’s encourage partnerships with multinational companies to improve technical training for residents, support nonprofits, and increase quality of life. Thankfully, some generous, existing partners like BMW are investing in local parks and residents, but there’s even more that can be done.
Spartanburg is a very accepting and welcoming community, but the city itself should tout this fact. If elected mayor, I’ll be Spartanburg’s No. 1 promoter and will personally encourage multinational companies to improve our city and quality of life.
How should the city move forward with public transit and the development of complete streets and pedestrian safe zones within its footprints, and what opportunities do see for collaboration with the county outside of the city limits?
More parks, safe bike lanes, and walking trails mean better health, access to work, and FUN for residents. Better infrastructure can also increase entrepreneurship and be a magnet for new jobs. As mayor, I’ll promote each of these things and work with state and federal leaders to find more much-needed funding.
Sadly, the top two reasons that people don’t work are lack of child-care and transportation. Our city bus system needs improvement; it rarely goes to the county, and residents struggle to access the places they need to go.
Finally, Spartanburg should collaborate closely with other Upstate cities and counties. State leaders need to hear from us directly on what the city needs and how meeting those needs will help residents.
What measure(s) should the city put in place to continue combatting COVID-19, and should the city use its resources to help ease the burden on schools within the city limits?
Our hearts break for neighbors who’ve passed away and families that have been affected by COVID-19.
My guiding principle is that we should continue to protect each other. Let’s encourage masking up and getting vaccinated!
City governments should always follow the CDC’s guidance and set the tone for residents. In a perfect world, there would be no setbacks against COVID-19 like higher case numbers and returning to requiring masks. However, that hasn’t been the case recently.
The city can and should encourage vaccination sites, as well as partnerships with local health providers. As individuals, council members and the mayor should share their experiences with COVID-19 and why it’s so important to get vaccinated.
If a school can’t afford PPE or masks, city government should consider setting aside resources to help or encourage other partners in our community to step up.
Let’s stand willing to assist our neighbors and community!
Our work is a cycle. Enter anywhere, engage anywhere that speaks to you. At the center, and part of every endeavor is the purpose that binds us: thriving in the community.