Swansea considering former Richland County leader for town administrator

By Al Dozier and Jordan Lawrence
Posted 3/27/23

Former Richland County Administrator Tony McDonald may soon take a similar post for the town of Swansea.

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Swansea considering former Richland County leader for town administrator


Former Richland County Administrator Tony McDonald may soon take a similar post for the town of Swansea.

Swansea Council Member Michael Luongo confirmed to the Chronicle that McDonald is the prime candidate for the new, part-time post for the town. 

McDonald was on hand for Swansea’s regular March 27 council meeting, but the body didn’t take a vote on hiring him after adjourning to executive session to consider "a personnel matter related to the possible hiring of a part-time town administrator."

After the meeting, Luongo told the Chronicle a final decision has not been made and that deliberations will likely continue for another week.  He said he was confident council is in agreement on the next steps and is hopeful for a positive outcome.

McDonald retired in 2016 after serving Richland County in different posts for some 30 years. He was hired as the county’s administrator in 2012 after he had served as interim administrator for six months following the departure of former administrator Milton Pope.

McDonald initially began working for the Richland County Administration Department in 1985. He served as assistant county administrator for more than a decade.

The consideration of McDonald comes after council called four special executive sessions on short notice in the last two months, including one that was posted to the town’s Facebook less than 24 hours before the meeting, with items for discussion that included “personnel matters,” “employment” and “contractual matters.”

Council has previously discussed using American Rescue Plan dollars to fund the hiring of a town administrator, which was a consensus issue among the four candidates who ran for mayor in Swansea in 2022. The uncommonly contested race followed the exit of Jerald Sanders, the previous mayor, who was ousted following allegations of misconduct in office and embezzling more than $4,500.

While McDonald is a retiree, Luongo said he feels up to handling a part-time position. He said McDonald would provide valuable leadership skills for the town.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting was first reading on the adoption of an animal control ordinance, which is identical to the ordinance already on the books for Lexington County. The motion passed after a unanimous vote.

During his report to council, Town Police Chief Earl Williams III renewed a call for Swansea to avoid negative headlines to help his department acquire resources. In November, Williams told council about a local business owner who pointed to recent negative press as holding him back from giving help to the department. 

At the March meeting, the chief talked about his experience at the recent FBI Command College in Myrtle Beach, saying that he talked with the leaders of other departments in similar areas who “treat their towns like Fortune 500 businesses.” He encouraged Swansea to do the same.

“It's all the same, every town no matter how small or big, has the same issues,” Williams said when asked to elaborate. “It just so happens that they don't publicize it on social media blogs and they ain’t got a finger that can call the local news to come down here. They handle it in house.

"And because of that, these towns and municipalities and counties are able to — again, like I mentioned before — get help. People want to come out and support them. And provide money for them.”


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