Post Tagged with: "development"

Election Runoff Presents Important Decision for Voters in Council District 9

June 19, 2020 4:14 PM
Election Runoff Presents Important Decision for Voters in Council District 9

Voters in District 9 will go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will represent them for the next four years on county council.

The runoff election is between Terry Fowler and Mark Causey.

Fowler is a retired Horry County police officer while Causey is a real estate broker.

That difference in jobs caused some of the citizens in the district to link Causey to the real estate development interests in the county.

However, I am not sure that distinction is correct in this race.

Fowler openly supported former council chairman Mark Lazarus against current council chairman Johnny Gardner in the 2018 council chairman race. No one on council was more associated with the development industry than Lazarus.

If employment is to be a determining factor in who is tied to developers, consider there are Fowler family employment connections to the Shep Guyton Law Firm, a firm intimately connected to the development industry in the county.

Shep Guyton was fined by the South Carolina Ethics Commission for his part in the $325,000 disbursal of campaign contributions to politicians at the local and state level who were involved in the process that resulted in the imposition of the Myrtle Beach Chamber’s Tourism Development Fee.

If one looks on the surface at associations that could be tied to the development industry in Horry County, Fowler’s are certainly more suspect than Causey’s.

The Fraternal Order of Police branch in the county endorsed a number of candidates in county elections for this primary cycle. Fowler, a former police officer, was not one of them. I expect this was because of Fowler’s support of Lazarus in 2018. Gardner was endorsed by the FOP and was certainly more supportive than Lazarus for changes that needed to happen with respect to pay and additional officers for the department.

The development industry has had a good election cycle this year. It was successful in getting Cam Crawford, Dennis Disabato and Gary Loftus reelected in the recent primaries. Republican primaries decide who will take office because of the lack of Democratic candidates in the November general election.

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Incumbents Rule Primary Elections

June 10, 2020 7:32 AM
Incumbents Rule Primary Elections

Primary election night was ruled by incumbents at all levels.

Only one incumbent lost, Janice Morreale in the District 5 school board race, and that was not a loss to a newcomer. Former county councilman for that district, Howard Barnard, defeated Morreale. Barnard gave up his council seat when he unsuccessfully ran for council chairman 10 years ago.

There will be newcomers to the county council District Nine seat and Horry County Auditor as incumbents Paul Prince and Lois Eargle, respectively, did not seek reelection. Both races will go to a primary runoff in two weeks with Mark Causey and Terry Fowler squaring off for District 10 and R. A. Johnson facing Beth Calhoun for Auditor.

One other incumbent, Sen. Luke Rankin, was forced to a runoff with challenger John Gallman in two weeks as either failed to get over 50 percent of the votes cast.

The victories by the incumbents effectively guarantee that the special interests in the county will play a big role over the next several years to the detriment of average citizens.

There is no doubt there will be a renewed effort to use county tax revenues, not state or federal dollars, to construct the Interstate 73 section in Horry County.

Likewise, developers will continue their push to build anywhere they wish, as much as they wish without any consideration for existing infrastructure and public safety needs of the areas to be developed.

Expect any county council attempt to pass impact fees on new development to be foiled and flood mitigation to be put on the back burner as special interests strive to make as much profit as possible.

There is no doubt that the Covid 19 epidemic played a part in the loss of the challengers as they were restricted in any ability to address groups of voters. Incumbents already had familiarity and name recognition going for them.

However, the basic fault lies with voters, or rather lack of them.

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Filing for Elected Office Begins in Two Weeks, Trouble for Incumbents?

March 2, 2020 10:33 AM
Filing for Elected Office Begins in Two Weeks, Trouble for Incumbents?

In two weeks candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle for state and local offices will begin.

Candidate filing begins at noon March 16, 2020. The local primary elections will be held June 9, 2020 with the winners of the primaries going on to the November 3, 2020 general election.

All seats in the General Assembly will be up for election, both House and Senate. Locally, five county council seats and five school board seats will be contested as well as the county wide offices of Sheriff, Treasurer, Auditor, Clerk of Courts, Probate Judge, Solicitor and Coroner.

In a one party county and state such as Horry and South Carolina, the primaries are where the real action will take place.

An anti-incumbent trend against elected officials in legislative positions was prevalent in the 2018 elections. Three out of four incumbents for either county council or the S.C. House of Representatives who were challenged by new candidates lost their seats. The fourth managed to squeak back into office by a margin of 31 votes.

There is no reason to expect that trend won’t continue in this election cycle.

Flooding resulting from what is seen by the voters as uncontrolled development in the county is a top issue with voters. One only has to see the “Tired of Flooding, Vote Them Out” signs along county roads to understand incumbents are in trouble with voters.

The lack of maintenance and enhancement of existing infrastructure while new projects such as Interstate 73 are pushed by legislators is seen as another significant problem for incumbents.

And the eternal question in the county of who or what influences incumbents when they cast their votes will be up for interpretation by voters. Do the incumbents vote for issues pushed by developers, the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests who fund their campaigns or do they consider what is in the best interests of the citizens they represent when voting?

The answer to that question may decide a number of races in June depending on how many incumbents are challenged.

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Challenger Hyman and Incumbent White Stand Out in Conway City Election

November 3, 2019 6:51 AM
Challenger Hyman and Incumbent White Stand Out in Conway City Election

Conway voters will go to the polls Tuesday to elect three members to city council.

Two incumbents, Larry White and Tom Anderson, are on the ballot with the third seat currently vacant guaranteeing at least one new council member.

Five challengers, Alex Hyman, Justin Jordan, Liz Gilland, Barb Eisenhardt and Randy Alford are seeking election.

Flooding will be on the minds of many voters thanks to the major storm events of recent years and memories going back to 1999 and Hurricane Floyd. What to do about new development in order to limit its effects on current homeowners is part of that discussion.

Two candidates stand out on the dual issues of flooding and development. Incumbent Larry White told local media recently he would seek better infrastructure for the city as well as working with developers about where and how much to build and limiting the effects of runoff from new developments onto existing properties.

Candidate Alex Hyman said smart development helps everyone. As a member of Conway’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commission over the last eight years, Hyman has first-hand experience on issues of development around the city. He understands development is going to continue but it must be planned to complement what is already in place around the city.

Hyman has exhibited considerable knowledge and thought about the watershed in which Conway is located and some of the challenges and possible solutions to how flooding of recent years can be better managed.

Two things are certain, development is not going to be stopped, as candidate Barb Eisenhardt appears to be advocating, and riding on the backs of the Horry County Stormwater Department (Gilland), the Army Corps of Engineers and/or the South Carolina Department of Transportation (Anderson and Alford) to find flooding solutions are not the answer. Jordan advocates finding another way across the Waccamaw River as a solution to the traffic congestion experienced in last year’s flooding.

On a separate issue, Hyman advocates a two tier approach to improving the business opportunities in the city. He said the city should go to existing businesses with the question ‘what can council do to help you.’ For new businesses looking to relocate, Hyman would ask ‘what will you add to our business community.’

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County Administrator Applications Close While Vaught Continues Hijacking Attempt

June 6, 2019 3:30 AM
County Administrator Applications Close While Vaught Continues Hijacking Attempt

The application period for a new, permanent county administrator closed yesterday while council member Johnny Vaught continued his attempts to hijack the entire process in favor of interim administrator Steve Gosnell.

As recently as Tuesday, Vaught was maintaining that he had the votes of 9 – 10 council members to appoint Gosnell to the permanent position. This is before all applications were in, before the qualifications of any of the applicants were assessed and before any interviews were conducted to determine who might be the best person to lead the administration of Horry County Government going forward.

After former administrator Chris Eldridge and county attorney Arrigo Carotti failed in their attempt to discredit incoming chairman Johnny Gardner and it became obvious Eldridge had to go, Gosnell said at that time he didn’t even want the administrator job on an interim basis.

Ultimately, after Eldridge was separated from his county employment, Gosnell did accept the interim job but, with the provision he could return to his job as Infrastructure and Regulation Division head.

When the application process for the permanent position opened, Gosnell said he did not know that he would even apply.

Still, Vaught pursued his personal agenda to keep Gosnell in place. But, Vaught’s personal agenda is not what the county needs at this time.

Gosnell is a nice man and has been a good county engineer. However, with only two years to go until retirement and having served in the senior staff of the failed Eldridge administration, he is not what is needed for the county to move forward to realize its potential.

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