SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – As a new year approaches, the City of Spartanburg is getting a new mayor.

Mayor-Elect, Jerome Rice, has served three terms on Spartanburg City Council in District 5 since 2009. and now he’s ready to fill the mayor’s seat and continue to lead the city towards growth.

Once he takes office, he says he will focus on public health, safety and education.

“And I’m going to push all three initiatives all the way,” said Rice.

Rice said he has ideas to push all three. For public health, he’s starting walks with the mayor every third Saturday of the month.

“We’re just going to walk and try to have conversations to try and create a more healthier Spartanburg and more healthier opportunities,” he said.

With the growing COVID-19 cases, Rice said he will continue to follow the CDC guidance, masks will be required in city buildings and he will encourage people to get immunized against the disease.

From the public safety angle, Rice said it isn’t just focusing on crime. He’s looking at the ways apartments and different buildings are being designed.

“The way they’re designed would be a safer environment for our citizens, for the residents there,” said Rice.

He said he’s putting a special emphasis on helping shape the minds of our youth.

“It starts with them, it starts at the beginning,” he said.

For the past 12 years, Junie White has held the mayor’s seat. “I have a different look on certain things and the last 12 years has been tremendous for the city of Spartanburg, but under my leadership, for the next four at least, I truly look forward to moving Spartanburg to even greater heights,” said Rice.

Rice said Spartanburg is on a one-way track to growth.

“Our economic development, what we’re trying to do with equity, and inclusion in the city. I just think we’re on the right path,” said Rice.

Rice said he will continue to support new initiatives for the city, such as Hello Family. A program designed to help support families expecting children or that have one young ones.

Even though COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in thing, Rice said it’s nothing the city can’t bounce back from.

Rice will be officially sworn in on January 10 during the council meeting.