Riggs ordered to active service
By Chris Day
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
CAMDEN — The chairman of the Camden Board of Commissioners will be absent for a few months because he’s been ordered to active military service.
Clayton Riggs, who is a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, has been called to active duty, a 90-day term that begins Jan. 15. Riggs will chair the Board of Commissioners' January meeting but board Vice Chairman Tom White is expected to chair the meetings in February and March.
Riggs' term of active duty is for 90 days, but it could be extended up to 179 days. He will be stationed at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii, during his tour of duty.
Although Riggs will be stationed thousands of miles away, the Desert Storm veteran says he doesn't plan to lose touch with county business. That's because he will attend the monthly board meetings via teleconferencing. However, he will be limited in what board meetings he can participate by telephone.
"I can participate in all open meetings," said Riggs. "What I can't participate in are closed sessions."
Closed sessions are those commissioners are allowed under state law to hold behind closed doors to discuss matters like personnel decisions, property price negotiations, legal matters with an attorney and industrial prospects.
If Riggs is unable to participate in a meeting by phone, and a vote on a matter is needed, the other four board members can table the matter to their next meeting, if necessary, Riggs explained. However, he doesn't foresee any issues arising during his 90-day absence that would require a vote.
"No major controversial battles that I know of at all," said Riggs, adding he plans to communicate frequently with Ken Bowman, the county's new manager.
"I'll be in touch with Ken on a pretty regular basis, I'm sure," Riggs said.
Riggs, 59, has lived in Camden all his life. He first joined the Army in 1983, and remained on active duty until 1997.
In 1988, after achieving the rank of staff sergeant, E6, Riggs attended warrant officer school at Fort Rucker, in Alabama. Today, he is a chief warrant officer 5, the highest rank for Army warrant officers. He's spent his Army career specializing in ordnance and field artillery, and is the Army Reserve's senior ordnance logistics officer for the Pacific, an area of responsibility that stretches from Alaska to Kuwait. He'll be busy during his time at Fort Shafter.
"I'm going there to improve the Army's overall readiness," he said, of his active duty assignment, a job that includes inspecting the Army's stockpile of weapons and equipment that has sat idle during the U.S.’ ongoing war on terror.
After leaving active service, Riggs remained in the reserves while working another 11 years as a civilian in software and database management.
His first brush with public service was as a member of Camden County's Board of Adjustments. That was a term he remembers well, as he was attending an adjustment meeting on Sept. 11, 2001. He recalls watching televised news of the attacks on a TV in the old county courthouse.
Riggs was first elected to the Camden Board of Commissioners in 2002, but was defeated in his re-election bid in the 2006 primary. In 2010, he won election to a new term, and was re-elected in 2014.
Riggs plans to retire from the Army in November. Pending an upset in the Republican primary in May, Riggs said he already has plans to seek re-election to a third consecutive term, and fourth overall, in November.
The current board of commissioners has accomplished a good deal, Riggs said, and he wants to serve another term to build on that progress.
"I think we have managed the county very well," he said. "We're fiscally stable. We've saved a little money to plan for future growth."
Recently, the county celebrated the opening of Camden Towne Center, which includes a new Todd's Pharmacy and Itza Boutza Pizza, which relocated from another site. There are also plans to build a new water treatment sewage plant, among other projects. On the horizon the county also is looking to build a new civic center and a new high school.
"So, I've seen some controlled growth without overwhelming the citizens" with a rising tax burden, Riggs said.
"I feel like there's been a lot happening," Riggs continued. "People have confidence in me that I've done a good job thus far. I'd like to continue. ... I like feeling like I'm part of the solution and not the problem."