By Paul Gable
Incumbent Republican Al Allen is looking forward to continuing service to the interests of the people by seeking his third consecutive term representing Horry County Council District 11.
“I have really enjoyed learning how to help constituents and responding to the concerns of the people,” said Allen. “I receive a large variety of calls from people with concerns about how the government affects them and I have worked hard to build trust that I will represent their interests.”
Allen inherited a contentious issue when he was first elected to council – the Aynor overpass.
“It was the big pink gorilla in the room, very controversial,” said Allen.
Originally budgeted at $46 million, Allen said there was considerable emotion in the district to get all of that money spent in the area.
“I went to the SCDOT district engineer and asked him to recommend the most advantageous spot for the overpass,” Allen said. “There was a big fight over the location, but we ultimately got the overpass built for $16 million and I was very proud of the savings we experienced.”
Allen has spent much of his nearly eight years on council serving on the Public Safety Committee. During that time a new police chief and new fire chief have been hired.
“There were some issues in both departments that pointed to the need for a new approach,” Allen said. “I am proud of the decisions we made and believe our new police chief and new fire chief have created a great morale boost among their officers that serves the citizens of the county very well.”
Not one who generally supports raising taxes, Allen said last year’s 6 mill tax increase in the unincorporated areas of the county for fire and EMS services was justified.
“The fire department was underfunded and in the position where stations would have to be closed and personnel laid off unless we got new revenue,” he said. “It became a question of do we raise taxes about $40 per year on the average home or do we not raise taxes and have the people experience considerably more expense on rising fire insurance costs. I was happy to support the tax increase as the best solution.”
While council deals with a variety of issues every year, Allen said the county budget is the most difficult issue each year.
“My first year on council I was overwhelmed by the budget process,” he said. “I put a lot of study and effort into understanding the budget fully.”
Throughout most of his tenure, the county has suffered through lean revenue years due to the economic downturn throughout the nation.
“We had to institute savings and rearrange priorities while attempting to maintain a quality level of service to the taxpayers,” Allen said. “All things considered, I believe we have done a good job of holding taxes down while making county government more streamlined.”
Allen said he enjoys the challenge of serving on council and the opportunity to serve the people and help continue to solve their problems during a third term.
“I feel right now we have one of the better councils in Horry County history,” Allen said. “We have a lot of lively debate, which is good, and I believe the best interests of the citizens and county employees always come out on top.”
Allen has hired veteran Horry County political consultant Donald Smith to run his re-election campaign.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with an incumbent with a good record of quality representation of citizens’ interests,” said Smith. “I believe Al has made significant contributions to the county in his first two terms and we look forward to successfully bringing him back for four more years.”