Name: Lisa E (McCarley Cook)

Age: 49

Family:  Brian Cook (husband) and 6 children – Blake, Bryce, Holly, Katelyn, Bradyn, Sara Kate

Occupation:  Senior Strategic Account Manager for Ingersoll Rand

Education: Fort Mill High School (1988); Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Appalachian State University (1991)

Years in Fort Mill: Raised in Charlotte & Tega Cay, but have lived in Fort Mill the majority of my adulthood

Top five professional and community activities: 1. Fort Mill Town Council; 2. Forest Hill Church-Fort Mill Campus; 3. Chairman of the Town of Fort Mill Parks and Recreation Committee; 4. Various Athletics programs – coaching soccer, attending games for BTMS, high schools, travel soccer, booster programs; 5. Founder of the Fort Mill School District Athletic Boosters.

Top five concerns: While there are many concerns that we all face each day, those specifically related to my role on Council are: 1. Faster road project timelines from the State and County – funding, property acquisitions, design and construction; 2. Strategically Managed Development, especially those that provide a Live, Work, Play environment; 3. Increased community involvement with social activities, volunteer opportunities and engagement with our Town; 4. Diversification in programs to include our changing demographics, especially our increasing senior population; 5. 2020 census participation to provide the Town of Fort Mill and the entire area north of the Catawba River, fair representation based on our population.

Q: Fort Mill is experiencing a population and development explosion. What does this mean for the town and how would your actions on the council help the needs of this growing community?

A: It means many things, including an exciting revitalization for Main Street and the downtown area. We have seen a more accessible community where you can Live, Work and Play local, an early philosophy of the Spring’s legacy. In addition to the convenience and walkability, more tax revenues are staying in the area with the emergence of hotels, restaurants, shopping, office buildings and medical facilities, all much closer to our homes. Residents of Fort Mill love Fort Mill and are excited to have additional family members, co-workers and friends come experience this region – our mild winters, low cost of living, excellent schools, southern charm and active lifestyles are very attractive. While the entire Charlotte region is seeing strong growth, we can’t close the gates and prevent people from moving here. We do need to continue investing in our community’s needs, minimizing residential impact, embracing commercial development and preserving greenspaces.

Q: What’s the one major issue you plan to address?

A: It is extremely important for our Council and staff to review how we conduct business and make sure we are focused on the ease of doing business for our constituents. Everything from processes and policies to communication and messaging, must be constantly evaluated.  Communication will always be an area for improvement. Each person receives information differently and it can change depending on the topic. Since the Fort Mill area no longer has a dedicated newspaper and people don’t get information from one source, the Town must develop new ways to connect and it must go beyond social media posts. Recently, we hired a Communications Manager to assist with improvements in this area. In the coming weeks, you will see a survey on how you receive or would like to receive important information from the Town. I hope you’ll take the time to respond to this survey and future ones.

Q: What grade do you give the current town council and why? 

A: (I would give the council a grade of) B. Council only sets policy. It is up to our Town Manager and staff to implement our direction. In the past, there were delays in implementing Council’s requests. Council hired/promoted a new leadership team (Town Manager, Assistant Town Manager, Planning Director, Public Works Director and more), and as a result, we are seeing community and personnel relationships improved, very strong financial security, and strategic capital investments with multi-tier funding (donations, grants, capital funds, etc). This Council also removed our highest density residential zoning (R5) which means less homes per acre, required a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) prior to coming before Council for consideration, larger green spaces/buffers for developers and implemented impact fees to help growth pay for growth ($7 million received to date). These impact fees are different from the ones from the FMSD.

Q: If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

A: Although I’ve never heard my parents say $1 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, it does ring very true. I would love to see the funds go toward building additional roads or the acquisition of land to be used for parks or remain undeveloped, but $1 million would not go very far. We do have several capital projects which need funding to move forward, like improvements/expansion to the YMCA Complex (donation), renovations to the Fort Mill Community Center (donation) and improvements/expansion to the Doby’s Bridge Athletic Park. We also have needs for additional/improved sidewalks, road maintenance and additional parking for the Main Street area.

Q: What else should voters know about you before entering the voting booth?

A: It is no secret that Fort Mill is a great place to live and we all want to keep Fort Mill the charming southern town that it was when we decided to make it home. The charm starts with the people. It is saying hello to a new neighbor, helping a friend in need or volunteering for an organization whose mission aligns with your passion. Serving our town as a member of our Town Council is my passion.

Our council has made many significant investments in capital infrastructure projects like expanding our Waste Water Treatment facility, a new Town Hall with drive-thru service, expansion of our Police Department, a second Fire Department, additional water storage tank and more, all without raising taxes in the last 12 years. With many of these capital investment projects, the property owners donated land or the facility, minimizing the investments of your tax dollars.

Fun question: Which was your favorite scarecrow in the Scarecrow Crawl?

A: Each year the crawl gets more and more competitive. It is exciting to see so many people walking up and down Main Street viewing the displays, visiting the businesses and restaurants. I am very impressed by the passion, creativity and detail that all participants have shown. Since the voting isn’t closed yet, picking a favorite wouldn’t be fair to all of those involved. However, Thank You to all participates and our staff for the support needed to host an event like this.

Greg Rickabaugh

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...