2402 June 12 -
Anderson County Council members M. Cindy Wilson and Bill Dees survived challenges in the Republican primary Tuesday.
In Council District 7, Wilson apparently edged by challenger Dr. Bob Austin with only eight votes separating the candidates. The close margin will result in an automatic recount on Thursday. If the victory stands, Wilson will face Democratic challenger Carroll Parker in the November general election.
Wilson received the majority of the votes in 11 of the precincts by only a margin of one to twenty votes. She showed strong support in the Cedar Grove precinct with 117 votes to 80 for Austin. In Williamston, Wilson received 142 votes to Austins 137 in the Williamston Mill precinct, while Austin took the Williamston precinct 155 to 91. Wilson also received the majority of the votes in the Honea Path area of the District.
Austin showed strong support in the Hammond School, Hopewell, and West Pelzer precincts.
With a margin of less than one percent, a mandatory recount is necessary and will take place on Thursday, officials said.
Wilson, fearing vote tampering by county employees, requested that election officials lock up the ballots in a jail cell, however both candidates agreed to allow the ballots to be placed in the Bailes Building as usual.
Wilson did request that one of her supporters be allowed to sit by the ballots overnight.
Wilson, a realestate broker, campaigned on the need for more accountability in public spending and an emphasis on public policy and trust.
Austin said his values of hard work and community service are reasons he offered himself to District 7. Austin said his vision for Anderson County is a government that is responsive and honorable.
In Council District 6, Bill Dees won his bid for a second term representing the Powdersville and Piedmont area, defeating challenger Charles Crowe 1,524 votes to 968.
Crowe had strong support in the White Plains precinct with 198 votes to 109, however Dees received the majority of the votes in the nine other precincts in the district.
Other Council members survived challenges including Mike Holden who faced a three way challenge for the District 5 seat and received enough votes, 53 percent to avoid a June 25 runoff.
District 1 incumbent Fred Tolly, District 2 incumbent Gracie Floyd and District 4 incumbent Clint Wright all had large victory margins over challengers, which included several members of the Anderson County Tax Payers Association.
District 3 representative Larry Greer won the Republican nomination and will face off in the November general election against Democrat Eddie Moore.
Statewide, State Rep. Gresham Barrett received the most votes in the U. S. House District 3 Republican primary although he will have to win a June 25 runoff against either Rep. Jim Klauber or former 10th Circuit Solicitor George Ducworth, depending on the winner which was not apparent at press time.
Ducworth apparently suffered because Sen Bob Waldrep and Anderson businessman Michael Thompson were also in the race.
Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler and former U. S. Rep. Mark Sanford will meet in a June 25 Republican runoff, with the winner facing Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges in the general election.
Others in that race included Attorney General Charlie Condon, Ken Wingate, Jim Miles, Reb Sutherland and Bill Branton.
In the Lt. Governors race, David Thomas apparently was the winner over Andre Bauer and Rita Allison.
The race for Secretary of State saw Mark Hammond over Ed McMullen and Lois Eargle.
H. D. McMaster aparently received the majority of the votes in the race for Attorney General, defeating Larry Tichter and Jon Ozmint.
Stan Spears had the majority of votes for Adjutant General, defeating Earle Brown and Tom Hendrix.
Richard Eckstrom was the winner of the Comptroller General race soundly defeating Deb Sofield.
West Pelzer Mayor resigns; councilman stays on
Despite an ongoing question concerning where he resides, West Pelzer Councilman Wendel Trotter said he will remain on Council.
The decision, which Trotter said is legal and supported by a majority of council members, led to a resignation announcement by Mayor Bill Alexander.
Trotter recently purchased a house in Crompton Place, a subdivision located just outside of the West Pelzer town limits and had previously announced that he was resigning.
Trotter said he will abide by Council wishes concerning his position on Council. At a recent budget workshop, an informal vote of the three councilmembers present showed he should stay.
Trotter said the informal vote was taken at the meeting after informal discussions about the situation.
Councilman Joe Turner, who opposes Trotters decision to remain on Council, said he did not vote at the meeting because he thought it was an illegal vote on an item not on the agenda for that meeting.
Trotter said it was not illegal because it was an informal vote of the Council members present which included Mayor pro-tem Maida Kelly, Earl Brown and Turner. Neither Mayor Alexander nor Trotter were present.
Trotter said he will abide by a Council decision if the vote is taken on an agenda item during a regular meeting, however he said the legal advice he has received is that he can remain on Council.
West Pelzer Attorney Carey B. Murphy was asked by Council to investigate the legal qualifications of being a councilman. He told Council that they will ultimately have to decide on the issue, however there are certain requirements which have to be met.
He has to be a resident, Murphy said, and meet S. C. law qualifications and the definition of residency which he said is based upon intent as to where one resides.
A municipal representative has to have residency within the district to sit on Council, Murphy said.
To decide, you have to look at intent which includes drivers license, voters registration, where you live, taxes, mailing address, etc., according to Murphy.
You have to be in compliance with state statutes, Murphy said.
Mayor Alexander also said the discussion and vote taken at the workshop meeting were illegal.
He also announced that he was resigning his position as Mayor.
As of the end of the month, I resign, he said.
After the meeting, Trotter said he has received advice and opinion from several State and legal sources and based on what he was told, he believes he can legally remain on Council and finish his term which expires in one year, if Council agrees.
Where you sleep doesnt matter, Trotter said.
Everything I have, legally is in West Pelzer, Trotter said. People that know the law say legally, I reside on Dendy St.
Trotter said his drivers license, mail and other items which are used to indicate residency entitle him to legally remain on Council.
I will abide by Council decision, Trotter said.
A crowd of about 20 citizens showed up for the regular monthly meeting Tuesday, most to show support for Trotters decision not to resign his position on Council and to voice concerns over announced sewer and water rate increases and other items.
After the discussion on Trotters status, Council approved first reading on the new budget. (Details in next weeks Journal)
Joe Turner was elected Mayor pro-tem. There was also dicsussion on filling a poll committee and election commission position for the Town.
Council also fielded questions from citizens concerned with announced sewer rate increases and other items.
John Ford Sr., a resident of West Pelzer since 1955, asked Council several questions including the reason for a RD (Rural Development) charge of $4.50 on his water bill.
Appalachian Council of Governments representative George McDaniel responded that the charge was on the bill to generate money for re-payment on a loan for the sewer tie in to Western Carolina.
He went on to say that it is not the desire of the Town to raise rates, but the Town has a history of not raising rates necessary to pay for sewer and infrastructure repairs and replacement through the years.
He said there was a large deficit in the 2001 water and sewer fund and the Town is still running a deficit.
He said the first reading on the new budget reflects a balanced budget, but he said the second reading will reflect additional rate increases necessary to pay for expenses in the budget.
Sewer rates will be going up, he said.
The problem, according to McDaniel, is that the costs of upgrading and running the system is spread over only about 400 customers.
Using the town of Iva as an example, he said, They were forced to increase water and sewer rates $10 right off. The rates werent raised over a period of years.
Responding to a suggestion that the town should unincorporate, McDaniel said if the Town goes out of business, it cant just go away.
The money owed to Rural Development must still be re-paid, and they will sell it (the water/sewer system) to some private company, which will in turn raise rates higher, he said.
McDaniel said the Town is also addressing problems with water and sewer leaks on the system.
Mayor Alexander said West Pelzer has recently received help from Anderson County Council representatives Cindy Wilson and Bill Dees who requested that Anderson County Council provide $4000 for repairs to the aging sewer system, $3,000 for repacement of a pump and $8,500 for work necessary at the waste water treatment plant.
Mayor Alexander said that during his time as Mayor, town employees have been very loyal and dedicated in serving the Town.
He praised Mark Vickery and Michael Mahaffey of the Public Works Department for working long hours, being on call anytime situations arose and for their efforts which have saved the town money.
He pointed out recent repairs made at the waste water treatment plant which would have cost the Town about $40,000 if an outside contractor had done the work.
Alexander also praised Town Clerk Wanda Sutherland, Police Chief Anthony Smith and the police department for their dedication to their jobs.