Why Elise?


From Elise’s first speech announcing her candidacy to today, she has done what she said she would do. Problem-solve. Listen. Operate with integrity. She ensures our city runs ethically with common sense decisions and clear communication.

Citizen Involvement

Elise used her educational background to empower citizens to have a voice and role in their government and their city. She created a citizen driven charette (strategic planning) and continued that citizen led governance with a citizen panel to create the Comprehensive Plan. She focuses on results and solutions for a citizen driven plan of action. Cayce’s culture went from viewing citizens as “in the way” to a team thanking our citizens for their interest in the city and actively seeking suggestions.

Her leadership intentionally creates a culture that’s not about one leader but about getting more citizens involved in their city and collectively shaping their quality of life.  She connected the original members of the Cayce Arts Guild and empowered them to create the Guild and now they invest back in Cayce in so many ways. She sees the goal of leadership to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Elise invests in neighborhoods and prioritizes connectedness, because she knows those bring joy, safety, and support to the community. 


She embedded more ways for dialog for citizens to help bring about the city they wanted by meeting monthly with the neighborhood leaders, and often with our pastors, with our artists, and with our neighborhoods. She also leads collaboration with our state, federal and grant partners to make our city better. We have made improvement in storm drainage despite it not being the city’s responsibility (it’s the county, state and federal). We purchased a street sweeper to improve safe walking and biking conditions despite not owning any of the streets. (They’re county and state owned.)

Financial Responsibility

Elise inherited a budget with a negative fund balance. But now Cayce has a healthy, appropriate fund balance and operates responsibly, so we are able to take care of our municipal responsibilities and do more with less. For our citizens that means fewer hassles and more money.

Improved Community Services

When Elise was first in office, over half the fleet of Police cars had 100,000 miles or more on them. Vehicles routinely broke down, sometimes in situations where they were needed most. Firefighters had a hodgepodge of equipment instead of standards that would allow them to help us and protect each other in an emergency. The sanitation team did not have rain gear and the business license staff only used paper ledgers.

Elise has prioritized making sure Cayce’s staff has the equipment to do the job citizens need them to do, investing in lifesaving equipment for our firefighters, rain gear for our sanitation team, computer programs for business licensing and building officials, a vehicle replacement plan for emergency vehicles, and so much more.

Customer Service

Elise has created a flourishing culture of customer service by starting with supporting Cayce’s employees. This investment in staff enables employees to do what they love most, serve citizens and our community. The community pays it right back, supporting them in a multitude of ways. Staff routinely receive kind calls about how their actions that go above and beyond make a difference. As a result, employees continually receive local, state and national awards. This year alone, Chris Orpilla, was named statewide Water Treatment Plant Operator of the Year while the Cayce City Police Department has achieved multiple statewide awards including the Statewide School Resource Officer Program of the Year.

Integrity and Respect

Staff members know they can do their jobs well with the backing and support of the mayor. Employees know they don’t work at the whim of helping ‘someone’s buddy’ leaving them to wonder which rules they are supposed to follow. They - and our citizens - get to operate with integrity on an even playing field not based on who someone may know but with a focus on customer service and excellence and best practices.

More Money In Our Citizens’ Pockets

Investing in staff and equipment pays off in other ways for our citizens, as well. By being proactive about Cayce’s municipal responsibilities, Elise has used taxpayer dollars wisely and makes them go further. For example, she has ensured there is a systematic investment in firefighting equipment so firefighters can be as safe as possible when they go to work. The biggest investment in the Cayce Fire Department has been the new ladder truck which was needed to stay in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for the age of the truck. Wise investments like these save everyone money not just in taxes but in private property insurance as well. We also help keep the cost of flood insurance low for our residents by joining a FEMA program. Cayce offers the most services of any city in Lexington County. The quality of life is strong, yet taxes and fees are some of the lowest in the region. Our intense focus on grants = less taxes needed to do the cool things we do = more money in our citizens pockets.

More Choices And More Art

Elise has invested in the main commercial corridors, Airport Blvd and Knox Abbott Dr, in a way that creates private investment, brings more business, and gives citizens more choices. By focusing on traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures, Elise has made it easier for small businesses to locate on that corridor and be successful.

The Cayce River Arts District was created and has grown immensely under Elise’s leadership. Through a street party called Soiree on State, one of the unique economic development strategies Elise enacted, new businesses are filling long forgotten commercial spaces. The Soiree brought over 1500 people to its very first event and has resulted in lots of new small businesses coming to the City. New businesses have arrived and created jobs and spaces for artists (for example: State of the Art, Henry’s, and Piecewise). Through grants, she has infused the area with color and art, a shipping container stage, an art lot, and much more. Using previtalization, a tool she learned through a prestigious opportunity with the Mayors Institute for City Design, this long-forgotten part of the city is getting its second life. This opportunity is only available to a select few mayors across the country. It was free to Cayce and transformative.

Infrastructure Improvements

She led the charge in the negotiation and construction of a $53 million sewer treatment facility in partnership with the Town of Lexington and the Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Commission. This investment in sewer treatment is not only good for Cayce and the environment but also for most of Lexington County that we service sewer. Our citizens benefit from that growth, keeping our costs low.

In the U.S., there is a water main break every two minutes. An estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day in the U.S., enough to fill over 9000 swimming pools daily, but not in Cayce. Elise has invested in replacing over 70% of our original water lines, something most cities don’t have the luxury of doing or even the bravery to consider. Instead of constantly playing whack-a-mole with leaking lines, she has been proactive, making better use of taxpayer dollars for this generation and the next.


Elise has created many ways for our citizens to not only be informed but to be heard. City staff annually tapes budget fliers to citizens’ trash cans before the budget is passed so they know how the city runs. We have a robust social media presence to keep our citizens up to date. Elise holds a monthly Meet with the Mayor. She ensures citizens can not only speak at Council meetings but can do so before voting occurs. She ensures citizens have ways to communicate with her and with Council and staff, so citizens get their questions answered.


Elise invests in the everyday, so there is a good quality of life for the citizens of Cayce. It also means Cayce can persevere through tough times and come out stronger. Her team has led Cayce through 16 hours without water in the city. Under her leadership, the most common words staff heard during that time were: “thank you,” because citizens knew what was going on and knew how hard staff was working to fix the problem. Elise led the city during a three-day fire, a local and national hunt for a missing 6-year-old, and the loss of one of Cayce’s police officers. The connections and communication that are intentional investments under her leadership helped, making these tough things easier to navigate together.

Better Work-Life Balance

Elise prioritized the city’s parks and recreation programs. A majority of Cayce’s citizens live within one mile of a park. Burnett Park and Riverland Park have been upgraded with new equipment and a picnic shelter. Guignard Park has been renovated and has an outside ping pong table along with other playground equipment. The Cayce City Riverwalk has been extended through use of a grant funded by the state. The extension includes a parking lot, a mobile cart, a new wooden walkway, and greater access to the Congaree River.

Millions In Grants

Under Elise’s leadership Cayce has won a multitude of grants. These are just a few: a $10 Million grant for storm drainage, a $63,000 grant to revamp the City’s arts district, a $1 Million dollar grant from the state to begin construction on a visitor center for the 12,000 Year History Park, a $10,000 grant from Lowe’s Community Improvement plan to create a neighborhood Riverwalk trailhead park in Riverland Park, a South Carolina’s Rural Water Association grant for the improvement of the city’s water filtration system, a $500,000 Brownfield Assessment grant for economic development, and $600,000 for a ladder truck. Elise advocates for the city’s and citizens’ needs while encouraging alternative funding sources.