Local rocker hoping for new career in politics
The first time Justin McCorkle seriously considered running for Spartanburg County Council was four years ago.
But the timing just wasn’t right.
The Pauline native had just returned to the Upstate after spending the better part of a decade working in the music industry and touring with his southern rock group, The Justin McCorkle Band.
“I thought about running in 2016 but the problem was I was still traveling some and didn’t think I could put forth the effort to do the job right because I never knew where I’d be,” he says.
For all those who’ve watched the veteran guitarist/singer/songwriter rock out onstage, the prospect of him working in the political realm might be a difficult one to imagine. McCorkle, however, claims he’s been interested in politics ever since he was a student at Pauline-Glenn Springs Elementary School.
“Anything history related always fascinated me and was something I wanted to study,” he explains. “And the history books are all politics when you boil them down.”
The pursuit of historical knowledge, however, didn’t seem so practical when McCorkle was a student at USC-Upstate in the late 1990s. In an era when technologies were booming, McCorkle wanted to hit while the coals were hot. He earned a degree in Computer Technology and went into business as an IT professional in the healthcare field.
Of course, from the time he was 15 years old, he also had that “other job,” getting onstage in front of big crowds and playing a sizzling mix of rock and country music.
As the only son of George McCorkle, famed guitarist and songwriter of the Marshall Tucker Band, Justin was essentially born into the music business. But it was as a teen that he began learning the ins and outs of the industry from his dad, who served as chairman of Marshall Tucker Industries and became an accomplished music publisher in Nashville.
“He was good at relationships,” McCorkle says of his father, who passed away in 2007. “He was a likeable guy but he was a smart guy when it came to business. He taught me how to interpret the rules and how a business had to work to keep it alive.”
Those lessons proved useful to McCorkle not only with his IT business, but also in managing his own band and all that endeavor entailed (booking gigs, leasing buses, securing hotel rooms, etc.). The 44-year-old also found his experience as a performer beneficial when he began selling real estate upon returning to Spartanburg in 2016.
“As an entertainer, I like to see people smile,” he says. “And it’s a great feeling when I walk up to a house to meet a client and they just light up; and you know that this house is what they’ve been looking for.”
McCorkle has seen Spartanburg’s District 4 come a long way since his childhood days in Pauline. Yet, despite all the progress, McCorkle says “people in this district feel like maybe they don’t get the same voice everybody else in the county does.”
The reason for that, he believes, is the inherent diversity of the district, which is also geographically the county’s largest. McCorkle thinks the more rural citizens of District 4 particularly deserve more representation at the county level.
“It’s a very diverse district and I think we have a lot to consider,” he says. “It’s not just a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ or a black and white plan that’s going to work for this district. I think it’s a lot of things that are going to have to be taken into consideration.”
On the county level, McCorkle says he’d like to see council work together and communicate better so more can be accomplished. He hopes the June 9 primary will mark the beginning of a political career he’s been considering since 2016.
“Now that I’ve been back home a few years, I think the time is right,” he says. “I’ve always felt a calling to do it. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve talked to my family about it. It’s just something I’ve always felt pushed to do.”