John Elliott, CPA For Lake Keowee

John Elliott, CPA

for Oconee County, SC

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About John Elliott, CPA

John Elliott, CPA


John Elliott is a native South Carolinian and a graduate of both The Citadel (Bachelor of Business Administration) and Clemson University (Masters in Accounting). He has spent 37 years in accounting and finance, becoming an industry leader in effective and efficient business management and financial responsibility. In the course of his career he has served in a variety of increasingly responsible positions including as a Certified Public Accountant. In public practice, he has audited the financial records of government agencies and school districts and reported and advised these bodies on financial matters. Additionally, John has served as a company Controller and the Chief Financial Officer of a global textile company where he was integral in all financial aspects of the companies. His direct experience, education and credentials give John the precise qualifications needed to provide leadership to Oconee County’s budgetary process and issues of fiscal responsibility and accountability. His broad experience at the highest levels of large industry has also given John an abiding respect for solidly-grounded management structures and managerial interaction, leading to a firm belief in adhering to established channels for executive and staff relationships.

John is committed to ensuring that Oconee County continues the economic development progress we have seen in the last few years, while simultaneously preserving the natural beauty of the land and providing for future residential and commercial development that protects and enhances both living and working environments through effective planning and land management. He firmly believes that preservation of Oconee County’s natural beauty and pleasing living environment contribute significantly not only to tourism, but also to attracting senior commercial and industrial executives in their consideration of the County for business start-up, relocation, or expansion.

John is a champion of citizen involvement in both government and community. He has been an active participant in his own community life, serving in such capacities as Church Deacon and Financial Committee Chairman, Sertoma Club President, and volunteering with the Gateway to Spartanburg project. As a County Councilman he will encourage the involvement of District 1 citizens in County government and activities. In his spare time he enjoys boating and playing golf. John and his wife Marsha (also a native South Carolinian) are the parents of two daughters, both graduates of the College of Charleston.

John can be reached by email at 

John's Positions

Financial Responsibility

There are gaps in the way the current County Council majority exercises its financial responsibilities. These gaps will ultimately lead to a financial crisis that can only be resolved through significant long-term financing or significant future tax increases.

Financial planning is inadequate. 

The County must have a plan that includes both revenue and expense forecasts, and provides the Administrator with guidance for the annual operating budget, along with necessary infrastructure maintenance such as roads and parks. The lack of necessary maintenance will lead to much more costly solutions in the future.

Long-term consideration of future revenue and expense trends is a critical step in planning for our future financial stability. This Council majority has lacked commitment to this important requirement. 

Operating expense and capital investment funds are mixed. 

This Council majority has not separated current operating needs from future investment needs. The County is spending more than it makes, thus money that should be set aside for future investment is being used for current operations. The Council has approved operating expense increases without having a dependable means to pay for them. If this continues, the County will not be able to provide better roads, parks or public safety.

Reserve monies are misused for operations. 

This Council majority has a recurring dependence on using restricted reserve funds to pay salaries, purchase goods and services and other current operating items. Instead of using these funds for operations, the County should have a plan to increase the reserves.

There is no Capital Investment Plan. 

The County must have a longer-term plan (minimum 5-7 years) of what capital improvements are going to be necessary and how they will be funded. This Council majority has ignored this requirement, choosing instead to address needs one by one, in a relative vacuum. 

I will work with other Council members to rectify this situation using my strengths and expertise in business and financial management.

Leadership and Governance


There is inadequate leadership and governance by the County Council majority. I will work with the other Council members and the County Administrator to strengthen our leadership, bringing to bear my expertise in directing different types of organizations.

The role of Oconee County Council is prescribed by State Constitution and Laws. 

Since 2003, Oconee County has been operating under the Council/Administrator model with 5 districts, each represented by a district-elected councilperson. Council specifically has neither the right nor the responsibility to manage county department heads or employees individually. Any majority-approved decision must be communicated through the Administrator, who is responsible for its implementation by Staff. Some current Councilpersons have chosen to ignore this statutory requirement and personally direct department heads and employees. This has created a second level of command with significant negative consequences for the Administrator’s authority and effectiveness, as well as Staff morale and department head management ability. 

Morale and effectiveness of the staff have been impacted by inadequate leadership and governance by the County Council majority. Because of interference by some current Council members, the current service capability of our 400+ employees has been adversely affected. Morale has fallen, leading to turnover, which forces management into a reactive mode. 

Partnerships have been adversely affected by the lack of leadership and governance by County Council majority. 

Working relationships with the education and business communities, other cities and towns, and regional and state groups have been impacted by this lack of leadership and governance.


Planning for the Future


Oconee County is growing with little control on development activity from the County Council majority. If we don’t take action now to shape this growth, our main corridors will end up congested like Easley, Simpsonville, and Clemson. Zoning is an important tool available to guide development. In particular, the Lake Overlay provides vital protections for all lake residents and must be preserved. I will work with other Council members, Planning Commission, and Community Development to develop appropriate long-term plans to manage this growth. 

Council first needs to recognize the problem

County Council majority has resisted attempts to establish more than minor development controls. The current District 1 Councilperson acts as if Oconee County is not growing and has failed to support action in this area. 

Current development standards and planning activity by County Council majority are inadequate

We need to update the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map to reflect current conditions and provide a good understanding of where growth will occur and what will drive it. From that, a logical step would be to adopt detailed corridor plans. The Planning Commission with guidance from the Community Planning Department has already begun this, but this has been ignored by County Council majority. With support from Council, corridor plans could be put in place quickly to avoid the congestion evident in other communities near us. 

Community Planning Department’s importance was reduced by County Council majority. 

This Department needs to be elevated into a proactive, professional organization that can lead the planning process and work with Planning Commission to provide comprehensive, forward thinking and ideas to Council for consideration. 


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